being 10

February 11, 2014 |  Category:   family favorite posts life remembering


I remember being 10, do you? It’s when memories start to have real traction and you can recount the details that make distant memories still alive.
I turned 10 the year we entered a new decade, the 80s. Life then was all about living on rollerskates every free minute that I wasn’t in school, skating around in circles in my basement to Donna Summer, Blondie and the Jackson Five.
I begged my mom for Jordache and Sasson jeans, Nike sneaks tricked out with the fattest color laces you can find and knee high tube socks with 3 stripes, not two. I also wore a lot of feathers, brightly colored and on clips that we attached to our hair. They were actually roach clips, but I didn’t know that at the time. Another must-have accessory was the braided satin headband in all sorts of colors. Depending on my mood, I would wear them on my head or hang 2 around my neck as necklaces.
I was obsessed with Different Strokes and the Facts of Life, but my favorite TV show hands down was What’s Happening. I thought Duane falling down on his skateboard during opening credits was the funniest thing ever. I had a little crush on Duane; I really liked his afro.
When Solid Gold came on in the Fall, I became obsessed with that too and watched it along with Soul Train and American Bandstand. I didn’t want to be one of the Solid Gold dancers, but I was mesmerized by them at least until we started mocking them as we grew into snotty teenagers. In my basement, I would choreograph dance numbers to “Fame” by Irene Cara.
My favorite songs of 1980 were “Upside Down” by Diana Ross and “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson. Then I heard “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar and that kind of blew my mind.
In 1980 I played with Weebles (they don’t fall down!) and Ker-bangers (also known as Clackers). I can’t tell you how many times I would hit and bruise my arm on that thing, even hitting myself in the eye a few times. Maybe that’s why they were banned in the mid 80s, or maybe I was just a super uncoordinated and clumsy kid. I kind of hated that toy, but I played with it anyway. I didn’t have any Barbie dolls except for a collectible Cher doll whose butt-long hair I chopped off at some point, but I did have Color n Curl Candi, you know, the toy where you can style hair and apply makeup on a creepy doll head. What I really wanted for years and years was the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine and the Easy Bake Oven, but I never got either of those toys.
In 4th grade, I was obsessed with making dioramas for book reports and became somewhat competitive about them at school. I had to make the best diorama, each one more elaborate than the one before, topping all other dioramas in the classroom. What a brat. There was a fair amount of bullying in school when I was 10, and I joined in with most of the other girls in the class picking on some of the girls that the mean girls singled out. I was still sort of newish to my neighborhood and I wanted to fit in. The previous year, I was the one who got picked on, primarily by a girl named April who would follow me home from school, taunting me the whole way home.
When I was 10, my best friends were Cecilia (but she was really kind of a frenemy) and a girl named Giselle. But I really wanted to be friends with a tomboy named Irene. She had the best tube socks and cut off jean shorts and rode the skateboard as well as any boy in the neighborhood. She didn’t really hang with any one crowd; she was way too cool for that.
In 4th grade we would make each other friendship pins which were tiny colored beads that you would bead onto tiny safety pins. You’d then collect those and hang them from bigger safety pins and wear it on your shirt or attach it to your bookbag (cross shoulder, of course. We didn’t wear backpacks in the 80s). The more pins you had, the more popular you were. We would also obsessively make braided ribbon barrettes in as many color combos that we could think of so that we could match every outfit. My favorite combo was green and purple.
When I was 10 I was still obsessed with unicorns and had a velvet black light unicorn poster up in my room. It hung there for years until I took it down and replaced it with band posters, probably Duran Duran, Def Leppard and The Cure.
I have a 10 year old in the house now. I’m thinking back to all my 10 year old memories because I want to remember what it was like and to have some sort of window on what it feels like to be that age so I can understand her world better. Still a kid, but somehow different, older, definitely testing the boundaries of adolescence.
Is being 10 in 2014 so much different than 1980? Yeah, maybe. We were explaining to the kids what life before the internet was like, how we had to search in our Encyclopedia volumes (I had Funk & Wagnalls) to do book reports or actually leave our house and go to the library if we needed to look up something. NYC is also worlds apart from when I was a 10 year old. But trade in the friendship pins for Kid Robot Yummy keychains (kids are obsessed) and feather roach clips for Rainbow loom bracelets, and being 10 is still being 10.
I remember being 10. Life was still uncomplicated, but the world was certainly getting bigger.

Happy 10th birthday, kid.

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  • Melissa@Julia's Bookbag February 11, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    WOW Jenna. You blew this one out of the park! We’re the same age, and I was nodding my head to most of this post — I grew up in Hawaii and certain things you mentioned just weren’t a thing over there….but yeah. All of it. The feeling of it. 10 was kinda hard for me. I had a frenemy best friend too. OMG Solid Gold. Haven’t thought of that show in a million years. I looooooooooved Solid Gold! My daughter is turning 8 pretty soon. And I feel like we’re venturing into a whole new world, girl-childhood-wise. I have much fear. I’m trying to tame the fear!! And just embrace the ride.

  • Bethany February 11, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    When I was 10, I read Harriet The Spy, and then carried around a spiral pad and took notes on all of my classmate’s behavior. And when they were boring, I made stuff up and speculated a lot. I came across that notebook a few years ago in a trunk, and the names and memories took me right back to 5th grade. Fifth grade was the first year I remember the mean girl mentality emerging. I was never the cool girl or the popular girl, and I remember wondering why girls that were friends with me the previous year decided not to include me anymore. Sure wish I could have told 10 year old me that everything would turn out just fine, because you know, it really did.
    I loved this post! Thanks for stirring my memory, Jenna.

  • Leslie February 11, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Wow! What a flashback. I remember all those things and recently I found about 30 pristine ribbon barrettes that I had made (but never used). I’ll have to snap a picture some day. What a trip.

    I remember the Sassoon jeans….but also Chemin De Fer (sp?) jeans. Fouls remember those?! Oh the 80s…

    • Jenna February 12, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      My kids still make those ribbon barrettes. They’ve come back. And wait, I don’t remember Chemin De Fer or Chemindefer jeans (Carrie, below, writes about them too)

  • Leslie February 11, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    *do you remember

  • Carrie Snow February 11, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    I too loved What’s Happening, made friendship bracelets, friendship pins, loved MJ and Pat Benetar, so many of the things you wrote about here brought it all back. The 80’s had some serious high points…a nice to time to be coming of age, in many ways.

    Did you ever get into those hair weaves? I remember weaving thread into friends/my sister’s hair to make these cool hair weaves, but for the life of me I can’t remember how we did it. I should go google it.

    I loved this post– nostalgia!

    • Jenna February 12, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      You know, not a lot of people know about What’s Happening, at least the friends that I’ve asked. I do remember hair weaves, though that was when I was a bit older.

      • Carrie Snow February 13, 2014 at 3:02 pm

        I’m not quite 40, so I think that What’s Happening was on reruns by the time I watched them. Loved them, and loved Goodtimes too.

  • Carrie Snow February 11, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Yes, also Sasson, Chemindefer (?) and Jordache!! The bomb.

  • Christie February 12, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I used to LOVE Solid Gold, too. (I secretly wanted to be a dancer.) I also loved Kids Inc. I didn’t get the Easy Bake Oven or Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine either, but I got a Cabbage Patch Doll and Speak and Spell. I remember turning ten on a trip to the Expo in Vancouver, BC. Our family drove there, which took about two weeks from SF because we made stops along the way in Oregon & Washington. We were in Victoria on my actual birthday and I got to pick the family meal (BBQ chicken and tater tots) and my own cake (Black Forest). I took these decisions very seriously. I remember staring at all the desserts in the bakery and finally choosing the one with the most peculiar name.

    I don’t remember any birthday before my tenth.

    I hope yours was just as magical, Mia.

  • Jen February 13, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    i think i’m a couple of years younger but i remember all those shows! also, i was kind of a nerd so i loved watching star trek and the the twilight zone. i think i’ve seen every episode multiple times. unfortunately, i have a terrible memory which for me is a good coping mechanism so my memories of my childhood is quite blurry. i’m impressed how you remember such vivid details! and 10 wow. it’s going too fast….

  • my favorite and my best- MFAMB to you February 15, 2014 at 8:05 am

    shit. where do i begin? new to your blog. came here via melissa @ julia’s bookbag.
    so hi! i’m jenny. this post was like reading my journal. every. single. thing.
    from the skating-is-everything to braided barrettes to bullying. i too was taunted a lot especially on the way home form school. coincidentally we are the exact same age. and my daughter is 9.
    great post and a good reminder that memories are just now beginning to take hold in a profound way for these nuggets of ours.

    thank you!


    jenny aka mfamb

  • victoria February 17, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    I am gobsmacked at how good your memory is. A lot was my world too, some I’m not familiar with so they clearly didn’t make it to the southern hemisphere. Really though – super impressed with how clearly you remembered so much detail – wish I could!

    • Jenna February 17, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      That’s why I am starting to write everything down…because my memory used to be better. It’s definitely fading now.

  • Lara February 19, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    I had the Snow Cone Machine (and a gingerb
    read man shaped buzzer dremel-y thing that let you cut shapes out if Graham crackers) but I wanted Cut and Curl Candi! And oh yes, the dioramas! I was OBSESSED. I still have some of the more elaborate ones I made. So many layers of scenery, homemade miniatures, textures and trees made from so many different objects. This post brought it all back Jenna!

  • Lara February 19, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Did you have Glo worms? And just remembered all the many uses of pulled cotton balls in dioramas, and how a shoebox was diorama material! The name Blaire still makes me think Facts of Life

  • Belinda February 22, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    I also turned 10 in 1980 (I remember my birthday party was at my favorite restaurant, Pizza Hut)

    I was just talking with my co-workers the other day about the beaded friendship pins, except we would hook them on the lace that ran horizontally near the toe of our sneakers. I loved those things, and my braided ribbon barrettes. :)

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!