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Then

It’s the night before school and you need to make your jeans look cool. You tie them in knots and bleach them until there are holes in spots making them look “acid washed” The next morning you put them on and peg the ankles because you are stylish like that.

Now

Your teen daughter begs you to take her to the store the night before for new jeans. She wants ones that have bleach spots and holes. They are even cut to look like they are pegged. You are convinced you have walked through a wormhole to 1986. You look at the tags. The jeans cost $185. Nope, definitely not 1986.

Then

You go downstairs to make your lunch and see your mom helpfully left out your old metal Wonder Woman lunchbox for you. You are mortified. Doesn’t she know you are in high school? You scrounge around the kitchen for food and throw some triscuits and a Yoplait yogurt in a brown bag. Mom also left you 5 cents for milk. Ew. You go to her purse and dig out another 45 cents so you can get a Tab from the soda machine at school.

Now

You prepare your kids’ lunches into five different glass containers (no plastics!) and then put them in canvas reusable bags. You can’t remember, but didn’t you make your own lunch by the time you were in first grade?  

Your teen daughter comes down with a vintage metal lunchbox. You are stunned. Apparently, that’s so old it’s cool now.

You glance one more time at the school reminder list and realize you forgot to give each kid two water bottles: one for PE and one for the rest of the day. You didn’t start carrying a water bottle yourself until your late twenties and then it was only for the gym.

Then

You grab your trapper keeper, a pencil and lunch and head out the door. No pictures, no big deal, no one even notices.

Now

You have bought your kids the 6,784 things on the school supply list. There is so much that they need suitcases to get the stuff to school. There is no way they are getting that stuff on the bus so you have to drive them.

Then

You arrive at school and walk up the steps past two dozen or so kids smoking on the steps in front of your high school, because that’s where they are allowed to do it.

Now

You pull up in front of your kids’ school where a line of mom’s are handing out anti-drug, anti-bullying messages and positive notes for the day. You try to hide in the front seat because you realize this is the PTA line and you forgot to sign up for anything.

Then

You come home to an empty house. You have an arm full of new books. You have to cut up grocery bags and cover them with brown paper to keep them clean. Plus, it’s what all the kids do.

Now

Your kids come home empty handed. You greet them at the door and ask them where their suitcases full of school supplies are. They explain they handed in the school supplies and they both managed to lose their suitcases. You ask where their books are and they both roll their eyes. Don’t you know it’s all on the computer now?

You wonder why you even bother and go pour yourself a glass of wine. At least they’re back in school, right?

Gen X: Then and now is a new weekly column at Taffeta.com published every Monday. Read Gen X Summer: Then vs. Now here.

About Veronica Rose

Veronica is a lifelong writer and proud member of Gen X. When she is not parenting her large brood she is writing about nostalgia for the weird world she grew up in.

View all posts by Veronica Rose