There's a reason why Millennials are the way we are: Our childhoods? Highly traumatic. Green ketchup? Boy bands? Girl bands? Scrunchies? To understand why we are the way we are, here are 18 fears every elementary school kid had in the '90s. Apologies in advance.
All joking aside, though, the 1990s were a deeply complicated decade, because on the surface, it didn't seem complicated at all. Baby Boomers were in their prime, the internet was growing up alongside Millennial babies, cell phones were shrinking, the economy was good, and orthodontists rejoiced. Seemingly every other show on television centered around the same premise: Hey, man, life in suburbia is emotionally taxing, too. Parents (or kids) just don't understand.
But beneath that veneer of hairspray and flannel, there was a global move towards the political right. Neo-liberalism birthed consumerism and a venerated love of capitalism. American cities were trying to recover from a surge in crack cocaine use. The death penalty came back in full force. Children's nightmares were shifting from bomb threats to bad weather (hi there, climate change). When people complain about the current generation of young folks, perhaps it's because we came out of a time when appearance and surface level fixes were rampant in every sphere of life in the United States.
But nevertheless, when we were in elementary school, we weren't concerned with "all that." Nah, we were more entranced by the '90s aesthetic. And all the scary stuff that came with it. Like these deep-seated childhood fears.
1. Picking the Wrong Rubber Band Color for Your Braces
A lot of cool things are neon green or buttery yellow, but braces are not one of them.
2. Or Worse, Losing Your Retainer in the Trash
You did not want to be the kid who left their retainer in a napkin, threw it away by accident, and, under threat of an extremely harsh punishment from their parents, had to stay in the cafeteria after lunch, rooting through the trash to find it.
Bonus points if that retainer was tie-dye-colored.
3. Having the Tag Rip Off Your Beanie Baby
How will you know when their birthday is?! How will you sell them on eBay in 10 years?!
4. Or Suffering the Death of a Tamagotchi
Which was my fate, constantly.
5. Having Your Slap Bracelet Confiscated at School
Because it was soon discovered that slap bracelets are very sharp pieces of metal with a flimsy outer coat, and Mrs. Fekete didn't care that that purple zebra print made your outfit.
6. Having Your Favorite Lip Smacker Melt All Over Your Clear Plastic Backpack
Listen, the Dr. Pepper flavor was sometimes sold out at CVS!
7. Or Having Your Clear Plastic Backpack Melt All Over Your Favorite Lip Smacker
Tiny, clear, plastic backpacks serve only as sources of embarrassment. I don't know why I insisted on carrying one everywhere for, like, two years.
8. Watching 'The Sixth Sense' at a Sleepover and Becoming Too Spooked to Sleep
Or The Ring, or the Goosebumps TV show, or Are You Afraid Of The Dark?. Whatever the movie, you did not want to be the kid calling their parents in the middle of the night "with a stomach ache."
Speaking of being scared...
9. Reading a "Choose Your Own Ending" Goosebumps Book and Coming to a Horrible End
Like, ha ha, who even believes in those things, but also I'm definitely re-tracing my steps so I don't die at the hands of skeletons in my middle school homeroom.
I'd hide mine in a closet now, to be honest.
11. When Two Friends Fought Over Being the Same Spice Girl
There was a social hierarchy built into that choice, and you know it.
12. Or Backstreet Boy
Whatever, Brian had BABY BANGS before they were COOL.
13. Losing Your Pokemon Card Collection
How else will you pass the time waiting for the bus if it's not flipping through your binder of Pokemon cards?!
14. Being the Only One Not Invited to See Britney Spears on Tour
Hit me, baby, right into years of social anxiety and trust issues, why don't you?
15. Posting The Wrong Away Message On AIM
Those Beatles lyrics were supposed to make you seem mysterious... but instead, you were deemed "uncool." So much for that.
16. Everyone Finding Out You Were Just Pretending to Know All of Those 'American Pie' Quotes
Because you weren't allowed to watch movies where a major punchline is a dude having sex with a pie. (Side note: I finally watched American Pie last year and was rightfully horrified.)
17. Everyone Finding Out You Didn't Actually Know How to Play 'Mario Kart'
Again: Not allowed, but I can name, like, two characters, so joke's on you. Luigi!
18. Everyone Finding Out You Still Played with Dolls
....Which you didn't. Definitely, no. Didn't have a big Tupperware container of them that you kept under your bed.