The Note That Came Home In My Son’s School Bag Is Making Me Feel Ancient
My nine-year-old son Toby appeared in his first school musical performance this week and it is making me feel both nostalgic and incredibly elderly that his class theme required him to dress ‘90s style.’
Back when I was aged nine, I too loved nothing more than a whole school musical.
We did all the classics; Calamity Jane, Oliver and Bugsy Malone. We rehearsed and giggled and could not wait to show our parents the accumulation of all our hard work. Our school buzzed as teachers pitched in with parents to make costumes and design hand-painted wobbly sets.
As not much of a singer or a dancer, I had all the enthusiasm with none of the talent and my time centre-stage was brief.
I can remember my one and only line at the pinnacle of my school musical career as Calamity Jane’s back up dancer number seven: “double-crossed again!” accompanied with a literal slap of the thigh.
I’m sure my parents beamed with pride as they witnessed my on-stage enthusiasm before realising they had to sit through a further three hours of bad American accents by 10-year-olds without the help of wine or food.
I will be channeling that genuine interest shown to me by my mum and dad (well mostly Mum) before, during and after the many musicals I appeared in as a youth and I will be clapping enthusiastically when Toby appears on stage for five out of the total 90 minutes.
Toby’s school is not producing an old school musical however, they are performing a selection of hits from the 40s through to K-Pop classic, Gangnam Style. His class are in the MC Hammer group, busting out retro moves to ‘U Can’t Touch This’.
Aside from nostalgic memories of my own school production hysteria, I felt ancient when I read a note last week from his teacher asking that we tease our kids’ hair into a ‘90s style’.
The same note included a range of cute photo ‘suggestions’ from the era such as Nick from the Backstreet Boys (blonde ear-length middle part cuteness) and Clueless actress Alicia Silverstone (messy top knot with butterfly clips).
I used to wear my hair in a non-ironic way just like Alicia, and want to kiss boys who had the middle part or ‘curtains’ haircut, as we called it way back in the actual 90s.
Toby looked at those retro images with his fresh and youthful eyes and had a good giggle.
It was exactly how I remember looking at photos of Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney back in the 60s. Those blokes were so OLD FASHIONED.
My best friends and I loved dressing up as hippies in our parents’ clothes or clever finds from vintage shops. We posed and took photos and we laughed.
I was a child of the 1980s but I really came of age in the 1990s and 1995 -- the age of Clueless and Brit-pop mania -- is now nearly a quarter of a century ago.
At the time, the 90s felt so paired back and edgy after the more-is-more, bling-heavy 80s, yet now in 2019, I look back and see how it can just as easily be summed up as an era for a dress-up party.
While the 80s had the lace gloves, colourful ra-ra skirts and teased fringes, the 90s has ‘grungy’ chambray shirts, crop tops and the Backstreet Boys.
And I can’t lie -- seeing the 90s as a bygone era for dress-up purposes does hurt a teeny, tiny bit.
Getting old is a tough gig. Getting old when your kids stop hero worshiping you and instead, laugh at who you were and the people, fashions and music you held so dear – is even tougher.
It happens to every generation and it will happen to Toby’s too.
I can already see my grandchildren dressing up as Lil Nas’s cowboy or Miley Cyrus and her vagina teeth costume in 2045.
At least I’ll have something to smile about when I’m waiting for Toby to make his appearance in full ‘90s style’ on stage.
Featured image: Supplied