1548: 90s Kid

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90s Kid
We remember Rugrats, and think of them every time our kids look at us through their baby gates.
Title text: We remember Rugrats, and think of them every time our kids look at us through their baby gates.


This is another example where Randall describes the inexorable passage of time.

The children are complaining about things their parents tell them, as children often do. Their first complaint is something recognizable, the usual "just eat your vegetables, they're good for you." The second is about a comment "LOL, remember Rugrats and Doug? Share if you're a 90's kid" which, however, is a generic social media comment that a "90's kid" would make, not something you would expect a mother to say. At least not in the context of things their children are embarrassed about. But it illustrates that the teens and tweens of yesteryear are now adults, and parents at that.

According to the CIA World Factbook, in the USA the median age of mothers at their first birth is 25.6 (2011 estimate). On the date this comic was published, this would center the mother's own birth date in very late 1989.

Although there are various interpretations of the term "90's kid," most center around the person in question having had most or all of their childhood during the 1990s. The stereotypical '90s kid has a strong attachment to objects, movies, TV shows, phrases etc. from the era of their childhood, which bring back memories of their younger days. In this comic Randall picks up on a number of things which could be used to identify a '90s kid:

  • The use of the acronym "LOL" means laughing out loud, or laugh out loud, and was probably coined in the 1980s, finding its way into general usage with the later uptake of wider public Internet and should be known to every kid working or playing on a computer today.
  • Rugrats is a cartoon that was produced from 1991 all the way to 2004, featuring the adventures of a group of toddlers and babies.
  • Doug is another cartoon that ran from 1991 to 2000.
  • The use of traditional social media, and more specifically of sharing the type of post described.

Given that the children shown in the comic appear to be somewhat older than newborn babies is not contradictory, since a 90s kid is anyone who was a kid during the '90s. So that would also include kids who turned five in 1990 or even ten; so in 2015 (publishing of this comic) a 90s kid could easily be more than 30 years old and thus have children more than 10 years old.

The title text suggests that viewing a child of one's own peering through such a barrier elicits nostalgia for the Rugrats cartoon. A baby gate is a semi-fixed piece of child-safety equipment to restrict a small child, typically a toddler, from leaving a safe area of a house, and especially to prevent access to stairways (up or down, where falls may happen), without overly inconveniencing an adult who can open the gate. Baby gates, fully enclosed playpens and similar barriers around cots feature as usually insurmountable barriers to the younger characters in Rugrats, who are of crawling and toddling age.


[Two kids, with very different hair style, are in a playground. A fence is visible in the background, and on the ground appear to be various items including a puddle or rug and toy blocks.]
Scruffy-haired kid: Ugh don't you hate how parents are all "Eat your carrots" and "LOL, remember Rugrats and Doug? Share if you're a 90's kid!"
[Caption below the panel:]
The median age at first birth in the US is 25, which means the typical new mother is now a 90's kid.

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Usual gripes that the median does not have to mean typical 13:49, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

(Above comment not properly signed..? It's not me, anyway.) I authored the first go at an explanation. Looks too wordy. But probably could do with other links to the various other "time flies, doesn't it?" cartoons, if anything ought to be added.

Not sure about my comments about LOL. I didn't really encounter it in force until >2000, before which I never really experienced Web 2.0. "ROFL" or various smilies having been the more standard on areas of Usenet that I frequented in the decade before that where web pages were rarely quite so chatty and 'social' IME.

(My own childhood was in the '70s in the UK. For some reason I'm actually fairly aware of Rugrats, but Doug is just something 'I know about'. There must be a child of the '90s, or late '80s, who can better describe the shows.) 14:07, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

Median may not be typical, but it *does* mean right at the 50% mark, which means that a significant portion of the top half of the bell curve is going to be 90s kids, with the proportion continuing to increase throughout the decade as more years from the 90s come of age. 14:09, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

"Typical" doesn't have quite as strict a meaning as "median" ... but yeah, assuming the median date of birth of a new mother is 1 January 1990, then half of all new mothers are pre-90's kids. Taking into account mothers born in the 2000s, this would mean that the majority of new mothers are NOT 90's kids. Cosmogoblin (talk) 14:13, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

There would be only a few mothers that were born in the 2000s right now. If one was born on January 1st, 2000, then he/she would have gotten pregnant during freshman year, which would be very rare (keep in mind that not even 3% of females in the US get pregnant during their teenage years, and, of those, about 75% were 18 or 19. Anyone born after 2000 would be so young that I couldn't even find any teenage pregnancy website that covered their age.Mulan15262 (talk) 03:16, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

I teach British teenagers, and they scoff at people who "still use facebook". These "time passes" comics are getting a little tedious for my tastes. Cosmogoblin (talk) 14:13, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

What the hell are you supposed to use? 14:52, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Twitter and/or IRC. Although if I ever choose to post something lengthy, I go with either pastebin or (and yes people will laugh at this) my ancient LiveJournal. PsyMar (talk) 15:09, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Snapchat, usually. "Charlotte, stop using Snapchat." "How did you know I was using Snapchat?" "You're ALWAYS using Snapchat." Cosmogoblin (talk) 16:10, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
IRC? Wow. That's pretty much almost as retro as email. (I suppose, like email, it's now all graphical with some equivalent to full HTML formatting including attached MIME encoded image contents.) It's been two decades since I last used IRC, so I've probably missed various 'improvements' to it. I hope the 'cool kids' know its noble history and aren't just under the impression that it's as some form of modern Mass Instant Messaging machine. 22:27, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
I use IRC on occasion, and as far as I can tell, it's still just plain text. Here's what ChatZilla, an IRC client for Firefox, looks like. [1] NealCruco (talk) 03:37, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
Diaspora; Or any number of other apps designed to let you communicate in a more distributed fashion, ideally without using a (corporate owned & monitored) centralized server system. Facebook really doesn't do anything that couldn't be handled peer-to-peer without any web servers involved. A simple web-based front-end could even be hosted from your own machine, allowing you to communicate using nothing but a browser plugin. "The only reason everyone keeps using MS Office Facebook is that everyone is already using MS Office Facebook." 22:56, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

BTW, Cosmogoblin, you're probably right to change my original "'90s" to "90's" based on the comic style, but I thoroughly disagree with the format Randall chooses. Stylebooks be damned (or at least those that say it can/should be done this way), but as a contraction of the plural of "1990" it really ought to have an apostrophe (if anywhere) for the characters lost in the contraction and no apostrophe for the pluralisation. (In fact, in the comic, it should actually be "90s' kid", best to omit the first apostrophe and put the second where it actually belongs in this possessive context.) Rant over. 15:02, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

I absolutely agree! If the comic didn't have the 90's format I'd have preferred 90s (or even 1990s). Thank you your polite comment. I noticed that the actual comic title is "90s Kid", no apostrophe! Cosmogoblin (talk) 16:10, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Oy, I had to get a word or two in here on this. While I agree with the logic behind the recommended placement (or absense) of the apostrophe, I think there's a place for them anywhere. Like the comma, I think the apostrophe can be placed where it can reduce confusion or the like. In this case, to split a number from a letter. If that's not done then I want to pronounce it as ninety-ess, as if it were a code (such as s70b45t).
I disagree on the possessiveness. Would "New York kid" be similar? It would not be "New York's kid".... Location or location in time don't get possessive. Think of it as if it was 1994 kid, a single year. Yep, now you understand. (That's all the example and thought I have on it, so, if you have a winning example, let's hear it.) Azule (talk) 17:58, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Years refer to a specific period in history. So do geological ages, and the same linguistics should apply.
For example, "The dinosaurs roamed the Earth during the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods." Here, "periods" has no apostrophe.
Similarly, "The years 1990, 1991, ... and 1999 comprise the 1990s, often shortened to the '90s".
Still, I think it's appropriate to use the comic's version in this article. Just as I try to pronounce and spell people's names as they say, not as I think they should be pronounced and spelled. I'm still annoyed by the CIA Factbook's insistence on spelling the English and Australian Labour Parties as "Labor", because it's factually wrong - even if they disagree with spelling it "Labour"! Cosmogoblin (talk) 20:32, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Ok, I wouldn't say "kid of New York" (normally), but I would say "kid of the '90s". But I accept a "'90s kid" could be sententially the same as "a blonde kid".
(I'm not willing to be quite so charitable about the idea of the apostrophe reducing confusion, in this case. It's the same style as "1000's of DVD's for low prices! Save $$$$'s!" (or "££££'s", but for this example I'll aim at everyone from Antuiga to Zimbabwe, including the 321 million US residents, rather than the rather more limited populations including the 65 million United Kingdom... and it's a horrible 'headline shortcut', anyway, regardless of symbol). It makes no more sense than the perfectly understandable "1000s of DVDs for low prices! Save $$$$s!" so the use of an apostrophe in a style incompatable with rules that apply to standard words is... an affectation at best.) 22:27, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
"Use the letter s but not an apostrophe after the figures when expressing decades or centuries. Do, however, use an apostrophe before figures expressing a decade if numerals are left out." Figures = digits. So, 1990s, the '90s. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/735/02/ Pesthouse (talk) 23:25, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks everyone for clearly stating why the apostrophe belongs at the point of contraction, not at the point of possession. As someone who has had points taken off their writing assignments during the '90s for that specific error, it annoys me that Randall does this incorrectly. 22:56, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
Median mother at 25 today

I did edit the explain because we have some simple math Randall was thinking of: The median mother at 25 was born in 1990, she knowns those cartoons from the 90s. But median means that there are today mothers born later and earlier. Mothers at age of 35 today are common but a women born in 1999 is 15 or 16 today and does not have kids - ok, a few have but that's not common. So that young kids today have parents at an age were the parents were kids in the 1990's. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:02, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

As long as we're not accidentally counting "mothers at 35" rather than "first time mothers at 35". The latter would be less common than the former. It'd be more akin to a bell curve with upper and lower 'tails' than a cumulative distribution S-curve where eventually everyone (who will ever be a statistic) is represented at the upper-end of the time scale.
Probably 25plus10 years first-time-mothers are more common than 25minus10 years first-time-mothers, but that's a potential assymetry of the 'tails', and still the two middle quartiles could be unarguably relevent. 22:27, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

Randall is not God, and he can make mistakes. Moreover, the definition of "90s kid" is not set in stone. Pointing out discrepancies between Randall and Urban Dictionary doesn't make him a fool. Randall is talking explicitly about new mothers. The comic must be set in the future if we assume those are the children of new mothers. I added the deleted math. 13:40, 9 July 2015 (UTC)


Just properly read the transcript. "Two kids, with very different hair style, are in a playground. A fence is visible in the background, and on the ground appear to be various items including a puddle or rug and toy blocks." (At time of writing, at least.) I must say I'd first seen the image as a playroom. The puddle/rug being a throw-rug (or possibly illustrated 'playmat'), the thing to the left of the blocks some sort of play diorama (with toy trucks on?) and, apart from the blocks, a surprisingly sparse amount of playroom detritus on the floor (toy fish? and a much smaller toy steamboat? ...perhaps the playmat depicts an island/lake scene, for these). In the background is a dado rail topping the part-panelled wainscotting of the playroom wall.

But an outside (playground, or more likely backyard/shared-yard) scene actually makes sense, too. An actual puddle (or a dried/drying-out one, and/or the site of a 'dirt patch'), the toy trucks could be on a sandpile, the 'steamboat' (at least) could actually be a small weed, and behind them is a boundary fence of some kind. Not sure if a rug would be in a kid's yard (maybe somewhere like California!), but it's made me think. (...that I obviously have too much time on my hands?) 18:14, 9 July 2015 (UTC)