Life lessons From a 90s Latchkey Kid

I think it’s safe for me to go out on a limb and say that last summer wasn’t one any of us were expecting.There was endless rain on the forecast, a worldwide pandemic at large, and events canceled indefinitely. Parents were faced with the challenge of finding fun close to home. And don’t even get me started on the forest fire situation that robbed us of August.

Many of us moms and dads felt burdened with guilt that our kids were missing out on life, but we toughed it out like champs and realized a slower pace of life isn’t so bad. I don’t know about you, but it made me realize how over-scheduled our life had become.

In fact, I was reminded of what summers were like back in the good ol’ days — the glorious 90s. I was awkward AF, chubby and wore my Body Shop shirt down to my knees, but I was living my BEST life. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

Me and my best friend Sara in the 5th grade. I so wish I kept that Bodyshop shirt.

I, Kristyl, was a 90’s latchkey kid. Not sure what that means? Well, let me introduce you to this tenacious and creative generation. We made up dance routines on our rollerblades in the driveway to the sweet sounds of Ace of Base pumping on the ghetto blaster. When we worked up a thirst, we drank from the backyard hose or shelled out our allowances on a Big Gulp. We held up our thumbs and fingers to make a W shape, signalling ‘WHATEVER,’ when we were peed off and proclaimed “AS IF,” if we were feeling extra sassy. Sometimes you’d hear about kids getting to go to Disneyland or West Edmonton Mall on vacation, but there weren’t the fancy vacations families partake in today. In fact, I was 21 before I ever boarded an airplane.

Other than maybe a quick camping trip or a weekend visit to my grandparent’s trailer across the border in Birch Bay, much of my tween-teenaged summers were spent at home “looking after” my younger brother.

Did we get bored? Often. Did we fight? Well…I do recall an incident where I locked myself in the bathroom away from my brother. He chased me through the house wielding a butter knife. To be fair, I may have ripped the head off his favourite wrestler and crushed his LEGO creation.

But it was that boredom and tenacity that forced us 90s latchkey brats to come up with our own fun.

We started Babysitters clubs in our backyards, binged crappy horror movies, nearly broke our necks jumping on soapy trampolines, spied on teenagers, picked wild blackberries from the ravine and built forts in the bushes. I also recall spending endless hours sliding down a sketchy makeshift wooden skateboard ramp out in the fields under the power lines. This was the same spot where I’d later bury my period box. You gotta read that story!


On the days mom forgot to fill the freezer with Pizza Bagels or Pizza Pockets, and the shelves of KD and Chef Boyardee needed restocking, we came up with our own concoctions in the kitchen. For instance, there was the Weiner Pickle Dog. Curious? Well, you take a Weiner and a pickle, wrap them together with a non-name brand cheese slice and Wonderbread. Squish it all together and then nuke your creation in the microwave for around 1 minute, and voila! Don’t forget to wash it down with and a hearty glass of Sunny D.

On rainy days, we watched cartoons and Degrassi High reruns, played Mall Madness and Barbies, spent hours on Chatline (that’s a whole new post coming your way soon), and devoured our VC Andrews collections. So much incest and drama — our prepubescent minds were blown away, but we our grubby Dunkaroo-frosted mitts could never get enough.

Friday nights were slated for trips to Willowbrook Mall. That’s where we’d score the best foodcourt noodles, a new BodyShop shirt and the latest Babysitter Club Book. We had to be home by 8 p.m. stat to catch TGIF. Hello Step by Step and Hanging with Mr Cooper.

ALSO READ: 9 Stores Every Teenaged Girl Visited at Willowbrook Mall

Saturdays were a free for all that usually ended up with a trip to Willow Video to select the perfect family flick, and if my brother and I were good, a Nintendo game.

Okay, this is probably all oddly specific, but I’m guessing that you can probably relate to some of this stuff. Am I right?

You’re probably also wondering, what the heck does this have to do with a pandemic or my child?

Here’s my two cents.

Life has slowed down considerably and we will probably never have this opportunity again. Savor the crap out of it.

Resist that primal urge to turn into a Mary Poppins/Martha Stewart hybrid when the “I’m bored” monsters rear their ugly heads.

Instead, reflect on how dull but memorable your childhood was and gift your wee ones with a hearty dose of a 90s-inspired summer, minus the underage calls to an adult dating service.

Now for your viewing pleasure, here are some awkward AF summer photos of yours truly from the best decade ever.

Summer Boredom Advice from a 90s Latchkey Kid
Remember Bodyshop shirts? They had such a strange smell, but were so practical and cozy.

Poor mom, we’d stay up for hours giggling and then she’d wake up all exhausted to make us pancakes.
Summer Boredom Advice from a 90s Latchkey Kid
I brought that raggedy box of barbies with me everywhere I went. One babysitter called them the ‘Devils Toy’ and took them away. READ ALL ABOUT IT: Blast to my awkward past
Caption this one! I double goat dare you.

Leave a Reply