Until recently, vowing that one day you’d tell your yet to born something kids something was just a heavy-handed thing old people did, the way your grandfather might talk about seeing FDR give a speech or Willie Mays hit a home run. It was a form of intergenerational hagiography used by the old to remind the young that things were better before they came along and ruined it.
So we’re happy that the internet has done what it does best: dispatched with a sacred cow via meme. “Gonna tell my kids” pokes fun at its subjects—Phoebe Buffay and Taylor Swift in the example below—but its real target is the tendency the old have to condescend to the young.
We’ll start off with perhaps the best version of this, Stephen Colbert, an actual father, telling his kids about Stephen Colbert.
Gonna tell my kids this was Stephen Colbert. pic.twitter.com/WZlEx5D7wm
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) November 20, 2019
i am going to tell my kids this was Taylor Swift pic.twitter.com/dle1IzBzj6
— alayna🪐 (@_alayna15) November 21, 2019
Making a joke out of not even remembering one’s own history is a clever dig at those who overvalue their own history, the kind of people (OK, boomers) who insist that LeBron James couldn’t be better than Michael Jordan without acknowledging that that belief rests at least in part on the fact that the young never saw Jordan play.
It’s also a damn good meme.
There’s never a bad time for a Spaceballs reference.
I’m gonna tell my kids this is Papa John. pic.twitter.com/RHyVADEYW5
— ghibby! (@CaffeineAndHate) November 26, 2019
We’re calling this one “Lil NASA X.”
i’m telling my kids this was the apollo 11 crew pic.twitter.com/zbIOmVwk1x
— conny not connie (@constancesb1) November 14, 2019
Two icons come together in a perfect tweet.
I’m gonna tell my kids this is Danny DeVito pic.twitter.com/FglUvA5f8z
— pat tobin (@tastefactory) November 19, 2019
The art history major energy in this tweet is very strong.
Telling my child this is a pipe. pic.twitter.com/ejn4evm4vT
— Hot Bones: All The Time Forever™️ (@Skeletextman) November 20, 2019
RIP Gus Fring.
gonna tell my kids this was obama pic.twitter.com/dgyiVN54Q7
— count zoloft (@lowendfury) November 14, 2019
Kevin Jonas unearthed a pretty embarrassing picture of himself to get in on the action, and you have to respect his dedication to the meme.
Gonna tell my kids this was Blink-182 pic.twitter.com/goy83IJr59
— kevin jonas (@kevinjonas) November 21, 2019
The Parent Trap: preposterous premise for a movie, fantastic premise for this meme.
Im gonna tell my kids this is the royal family pic.twitter.com/l2eOxc60vE
— anna (@fanistonlife) November 20, 2019
If Disney eventually swallows Nickelodeon, this crossover will be at the top of our wish list.
Gonna tell my kids these were the Avengers pic.twitter.com/F1fGSd3PkW
— No Context Rugrats (@NoContextRugrat) November 21, 2019
Speaking of Disney spin-offs we wouldn’t mind seeing…
gonna tell my kids this was mary poppins pic.twitter.com/Y404diPFls
— t (@peterquillsI) November 19, 2019
John C. Reilly remains an American treasure, and this screenshot is a big reason why.
Gonna tell my kids this was Twenty One Pilots pic.twitter.com/4yYfm0WIPQ
— Ⓒ Ⓞ Ⓡ Ⓔ Ⓨ Ⓙ Ⓐ Ⓒ Ⓚ Ⓢ Ⓞ Ⓝ (@cxreyjacksxn) November 23, 2019
In his mind, Michael Scott is the LeBron James of the central Pennsylvania paper market.
gonna tell my kids this was lebron james pic.twitter.com/aAJy1tilfe
— amra ibrahimović (@amraibrah) November 20, 2019
It’s actually too bad that One Direction did not have a musician of Duke Silver’s caliber.
gonna tell my kids this was one direction pic.twitter.com/SV56x9QLgS
— anna (@annawcp) November 17, 2019
This is the look of a man who doesn’t need to be told that the guac is extra.
i’m going to tell my kids this was a chipotle bag pic.twitter.com/Kb1rTVOYs8
— gab (@wawaquesadillas) November 20, 2019
The ending Endgame deserved.
gonna tell my kids she defeated thanos pic.twitter.com/B5z1QaXjfT
— frozen 2 spoilers (@letsbians) November 22, 2019
The founding fathers are a popular choice for this meme, and this is probably the best example.
I’m gonna tell my kids these were the Founding Fathers the day they signed the Declaration of Independence. pic.twitter.com/jGqTPhhuoP
— Anthony (@anthonyemanuele) November 19, 2019
At the risk of mixing memes, name a more iconic duo. I’ll wait.
Gonna tell my kids this was “A Star Is Born” pic.twitter.com/8OSXOv26Wh
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) November 21, 2019
There are few things that deserve to be remembered less than Mike Myers’s adaptation of The Cat in the Hat.
— Andi (@JLosOscar) November 19, 2019
Scott Pilgrim’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
gonna tell my kids this was the Beatles pic.twitter.com/4yBvcoK2sR
— ℭ𝔞𝔩𝔢𝔟 🕷 (@KleptoCaleb) November 18, 2019
Blake Griffin: basketball pro, meme savant.
gonna tell my kids this was me pic.twitter.com/AuuDbyrbiF
— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin23) November 24, 2019
Narrator: it was not Kurt Cobain.
Gonna tell my kids this is Kurt Cobain pic.twitter.com/flOF60QL6A
— Kyle (@godvfwine) November 19, 2019
I mean, it’s not like they’ve never busted a ghost, right?
gonna tell my kids these were the ghostbusters pic.twitter.com/GqrXESczqI
— Stranger Things (@Stranger_Things) November 19, 2019
John Mulaney’s resemblance to Beto O’Rourke was the undercovered story of the latter’s campaign.
gonna tell my kids this was beto o’rourke pic.twitter.com/xpxl5LPzpq
— sierra (@genzmashfan) November 18, 2019
If you never used this in the computer labs at school, did you even have a childhood?
Im gonna tell my kid this was Photoshop pic.twitter.com/HiegmtcbfU
— Justin Odisho (@JustinOdisho) November 22, 2019
Get it, because it’s a rock? Get it? Get it?
Gonna tell my kids this is Dwayne Johnson pic.twitter.com/wRKcMmJ3tl
— Juice (@AirXAlpha1721) November 21, 2019