Things That Only Kids Who Went To School In The '90s Will Understand

I was chatting to a school go’er the other day when the talk turned to lunchboxes and tuck-shops. I guess in the back of my mind I’m already worried that I won’t be able to match my mom’s school lunch boxes – those things were legendary – and the talk of the quadrangle.

Did you know that some schools these days have in-campus restaurants and that the tuck shop menu features more than just a Piemans Pantry Cornish Pasty and a soggy salad roll?

Listen up, kids – we had it hard in the 90’s. I’ve heard talk of school tuck shops (are they even called tuck-shops anymore, or are they now referred to as ‘Student Lounges’?) serving sushi, hot meals and coffee.(Coffee! I guess ADHD isn’t a thing anymore)

This blog post is inspired by the almost slave labour like conditions that most C level schools provided in the 90’s.

Things that only kids who went to school in the 90’s, will remember.

Tuck-shops and school food

  1. In Primary School a R2 note at the tuck-shop could buy you half a Chelsea Bun, a large guava roll and a toasted mince sandwich.
  2. Tuck-shop ladies were always your mom and other moms. If you knew your mom was on tuck-shop duty you were in luck – as it meant getting to the front of the queue faster.

tuck-shop

3. A handful of coins was always enough to get you something. It was perfectly acceptable for the Grade 1’s and Grade 2’s to open a grubby fist, full of bronze coins, and ask “what can I get for this?”

4. Woolies did not sell cute snack sized, pre-cut, low carb, banting friendly treats (these were the days before Woolworths was aspirational). Our moms would pack our food (high-carb-what-the-hell-is-a-gluten-intolerance-anyway jam-sandwiches) in an empty bread packet, a Checkers packet, or in my case a 2 litre ice cream tub. Sandwich swopping was up there with marbles during break time.

Sports

  1. In Primary school, uniform regulations were strict. There were dedicated shops (I think called Step Ahead) which sold school authorised uniforms and accessories. Think navy blue scrunchies, padded alice bands and matchy matchy hair clips.
  2. In Winter, knee high socks were mandatory, and if you happened to have twig legs like me, your mom would have to sew you 2 elasticated bands to help them stay up.
  3. If you partook in a school sport, school colour and brand approved underwear was compulsory. Before every match or game the girls would line up in the quadrangle while the teachers lifted our (knee high) culottes and inspected our panties. Not school regulation grey or navy? Sorry, no sport for you.
  4. Refreshments during a school match were always the following: A slice of orange still in its peel during half time, and a packet of Fritos and a frozen Take 5 after the game.

Take 5 Fritos

Teachers and Classrooms

  1. For the longest time I thought every desk I sat at belonged to a boy named Ted. It was only in my later more intelligent tween (also, not a word that was around in the 90’s) years that I realised the permanent marker “T.E.D’s” stood for ‘Transvaal Education Department. (T.O.D in the Afrikaanse onderwyser se klaskamer)

School desk

  1. You don’t know what true claustrophobia is until you’ve sat in a pre-fab classroom with the windows closed.
  2. There were no cell phones in schools (they didn’t exist until I was in Standard 9) so the only piece of technology that was always being confiscated by the teachers was the Tamagotchi. Highly upsetting to all Tamagotchi owners, the confiscation of these always resulted in a “But Mrs de Bruyn it was going to die, I had to feed it!”

Tamagotchi

  1. There was no such thing as a Typo Stationer in the 90’s. School stationery was standard issue HB pencils, Bic pens (after a certain age) and feint lined exam pads. The only stamp of personalisation that one was allowed was a Space Case in which to keep it all.

Space Case

  1. If you saw a teacher out of school it was big news. We could never quite believe that Mrs so and so had a life outside of her classroom.
  2. Each child had a chair bag – a material item that draped over your school chair with a large pocket – useful for storing your stationery and lunches. God forbid you forgot your lunch there over a weekend or even worse – school holidays. Mom would get out the wooden spoon. (if you’re not afraid of the wooden spoon, even to this day, then you definitely weren’t a 90’s school’goer)

chair bag

  1. All class photos looked like this:

school photo

School grounds and facilities

  1. The quadrangle was the equivalent of the starting block in The Hunger Games. Most days ended and started there. Come rain or shine, hundreds of little children’s delicate bottoms grew haemorrhoids from sitting on the concrete listening to the headmaster read out roll call.
  2. School assembly’s marked a sign of seniority – the smaller you were, the closer you sat at the front. The older kids always got to sit at the back. Teachers flanked the perimeter of the school hall like soldiers at a prison camp. The floors were always dusty and one child would always puke near you.
  3. Toilets were revolting. The doors always started half way up the wall, and there was no such thing as a soap dispenser – only a soggy round white soap that sat in the ceramic indentation of the sink. To use this was a risk not many were willing to take. There was no such thing as hand dryers or paper towels- instead archaic machines were mounted from the walls from which white and blue striped material was dispensed. To get a clean portion of said towel one had to manoeuvre the round lever until the dirty section disappeared and a fresh section was revealed. To this day it is still a mystery as to how these towels cleaned themselves.

towel dispenser

So yes, schooling in the 90’s was not glamourous, but then I became an adult and realised… I would give anything to go back.

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30 Things I've Learnt in my Thirties

Turning 30 for me was kind of a big deal – as it is, I guess, for most people. The day itself was average – with me typically expecting too much and receiving a wrapped bundle of disappointment in return, but I digress.

2014, the year of me being 30, has been an absolute roller-coaster. There have been ultimate highs, and ultimate lows and a bucket load of missed emoticons in between. 8 months in, and edging closer to the big 3-1, there are certain things I have learnt about my self, that not even my progressive chest wrinkles can dampen.

1. You will find the money to do something you really want, or buy something you really need. We bought a house at the beginning of the year, and with an older house on a large stand comes the hemorrhaging of money. But it is worth every cent. Truly.

2. You will end relationships, and be OK with it. There comes a time when you realise that the people who suck the life out of you, make you feel anything but good about yourself, or don’t see your value, are just not worth it, and most of the time walking away becomes the best feeling in the world.

3. You will entertain more and go out less.

4. Clothes become something of value – and your monthly budget may go towards one staple item, then 5 smaller ones. (This is me justifying my costs-the-same-as-my-bond boots I bought this winter)

5. You will want to spend as much time as possible with your mom and dad. And you will worry, knowing, that the older you get, the older they do too.

6. Your body will let you down. You will pay a fortune in meds for some or other ailment which needs addressing. Your medical aid savings will run out before Easter.

7. You will learn the art of negotiating. A month back I went and bought a new car because my current car was costing too much (see point 8).After the salesman had worked out my monthly installments I told him it was unfortunately too much and left the dealership. I was’t playing games, I simply didn’t have the extra money. 5 minutes later the same salesman phoned me and offered me a substantial discount on the car. I bought it.

8. You will become frugal. I now compare prices of long life milk before buying it and swipe my loyalty cards with enthusiastic vigour. Inflation sucks.

9. You will learn the value of work life balance. When I first started working I would graft for 12, 13 hours a day. I thought I was so clever, telling everyone how busy I was. The truth – I was doing it to prove a point, to be noticed in my job, and clearly not managing my time well at all. I now add ‘Gym’ into my calendar and treat me time as a meeting. There are many days when I work late or from home, but it is not the norm. Anyone who tells you they are so busy all.the.time is probably just looking for attention.

10. You will crave a baby. The beating of your ovarian drums will drown out most radio station playlists.

11. Your bullshit tolerance level will drop to a staggering low.

11. You will get better at confrontation. Yes, your heart may be racing at a million ticks a minute, and you may get that prickly underarm sweaty feeling – but the result of actually telling someone how you feel, is totally with it.

12. Furniture shopping, as does going to the nursery, becomes the highlight of your weekend.

13. Most people are in the same boat as you. I have a terrible habit of comparing myself to my peers, constantly wondering how they can afford the overseas holidays, fancy cars and seemingly better lifestyles. Turns out, they do the same with other people, and the result is everyone feeling incompetent, poor and hard done by. No-one’s life is perfect – everyone is fighting a battle.

14. You will become less ‘cool’. I don’t know when it happened, but I suddenly do not know the name and artist of every single song that gets played on the radio. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t worked in radio for many years, but man, I used to be the thesaurus of music. Not so much anymore.

15. You will look your age. Fuck.

16. You will drink a lot more than you did in your youth. Consistency is King, and in my Palace that means 2 reds a night.

17. You will find marriage to be one of the hardest, fun, exciting journeys – especially if you are recently married.

18. Your metabolism – if it hasn’t already – will take a nosedive off a very steep carb laden cliff.

19. The thought of going to a night club, on a Contiki tour or anywhere that involves fighting crowds for things is a terrifying and unpleasant thought.

20. You will become a lot more aware of people and their needs, and your empathy levels will grow in leaps and bounds.

21. You will embrace fibre.

22. You will do as much shopping online as you can, in order to find more time to do things that actually make you happy.

23. You will notice more lines, more hair and more cracks all over your body. Conversations with the salon include the terms ‘age spots’, ‘peel’ and ‘irreversible damage’.

24. When a male hits on you, you want to roll over onto your back – bulldog style – and thank him for seeing the value in an older woman.

25. Conversations with friends include words such as “If my child ever dared…” and “Can you believe they allow teenagers into this place”. Also, it turns out the teenagers you speak of are in their early twenties.

26. You will attend more babyshowers then weddings and birthdays combined.

27. You will start shopping for jeans that aren’t low rise.

28. Punctuality is a thing. It always has been for me – I can’t be late for anything. But god help the person who is late for me.

29. Your collection of friends will become the most valuable asset you own. Over the years you have cultivated an amazing bunch of people who share and care deeply – cherish them.

30. You will learn to enjoy yourself so much more. I’m still helluva insecure and care way too much what others think – but I love who I am, who I have become and how my life has turned out.

Here’s to the next 30!

Before and After

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