When I was a kid, I was terrified of walking on a boardwalk or pier, convinced that I would slip through the half-inch crack between the boards and plunge into the ocean. I also believed that a person’s race dictated the color of dog one could own.
Knowing I couldn’t be the only person who had labored under this type of delusion, I posed the question on Facebook – what was something dumb or silly you believed as a child? Close to 30 people responded with their own childhood misconceptions and stories of confusion, which ranged from odd to hilarious.
Did we all at one time believe the bathtub drain could actually suck us down?
Some themes bubbled to the top:
Babies were very mysterious to us. One friend thought babies magically popped out ladies’ bellies, and then the bellies immediately healed. And the babies were only sent to ladies once they got married.
I know someone who when their little brother was brought home from the hospital, assumed that at some point the little boy would turn into a little girl, and ultimately she’d have a younger sister. Boy, was she mad when she found out that wasn’t the case.
Similarly: “Not my story, but my cousin’s: He thought every baby was born with a penis. If you were meant to be a boy, it stayed on. If you were a girl, it fell off.”
My mother told my younger cousin that the black crust that formed under the cap of a ketchup bottle was poison and you’d die if you ate it. (Though to be fair, my mother probably actually believes this.)
“I was told that if I ate too much Parmesan cheese I would get worms in my stomach. Why does so much of it involve food stuff?” Good question. I don’t have kids but I’m guessing this is one way parents get children to do stuff, or not do stuff.
This one is just plain mean. “A babysitter told me that my teeth would turn black because I ate too many egg yolks. She said it was too late for me to avoid this and to expect to wake up with black teeth within the week.”
Siblings, aunts and uncles
Someone’s older brother led her to believe that Big Foot lived in their basement.
Personally, I told my younger brother that I could control him with the television remote control.
My mother confessed that when she was younger, she thought she was adopted, which is doubly interesting since she is a twin. I have to wonder if her twin sister didn’t influence her beliefs …
My sister-in-law, who has a twin brother, believed that if she put on her brother’s pajamas and he put on her nightgown, their parents would believe she was him and he was her. Twin logic.
“My Polish Uncle always told us that if we didn’t eat all our dinner, hair would grow on our chest. So I just figured it was best not to even start eating while I was over there.” That strategy backfired on the uncle, I guess.
“My father took my sister and me to church from the ages of three to eight – at about age five I started wondering if God was behind the curtain behind the ‘stage.’ I always wondered what he was waiting for in order to come out.”
“I believed that there was an actual stairway to heaven somewhere. Never did find it, but in my prayers if I really wanted something I always offered God a lollipop that I would bring as soon as I did find those stairs.”
“I thought there were little people inside the TV acting out the shows. I often thought about breaking the screen to get Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie, or Samantha from Bewitched out so I could have my own witch or Jeannie.”
Friend Chad wrote: “I believed you never stopped growing and would end up a giant. I also thought my parents could read my mind but could never admit or discuss it. And you automatically had to join the army at 18. Once my mom went to Colorado to visit her sister and came back with a perm. I was convinced she was someone else.”
One of my favorites: “I thought that college diplomas (always depicted as a scroll tied with ribbon) had your job assignment written on them.” Maybe life would be simpler if this was the case? Ironically, this one was posted by my college roommate.
Another favorite: “I thought electric outlets would zap me if I turned my back on them.” It’s not easy being a kid. Things are confusing.
For example, file these under a child’s simple misunderstanding:
“That elbow grease was a product. My mom told me to use elbow grease when washing some dishes and I looked under the cabinet for some.”
“My mom said we had to be a member of the Clean Plate Club (finish our meal) and I believed there WAS a club! When I was old enough to question it all my older siblings laughed at me. !! (but I bet they believed it too!!) ”
Note: if there is a Clean Plate Club anywhere, I’m an honorary lifetime member.
“My mother would chase us out of the room when she was doing bills (still does LOL) and she’d forever yell “You need to wait – I’m trying to make ends meet” – so I assumed that “making ends meet” was actually “making ends meat” and that it was some impossible recipe that she just couldn’t figure out… and for as often as she said this I wondered why we never had it for dinner!!! ”
Now I will never hear the term “making ends meet” the same way again! I laughed a lot reading all the responses, and it’s nice to know we all had some kind of anxiety, misperception or just plain silly belief – we’re not alone in our weirdness. And we all ended up ok.
I’d love to gather more of these examples (my husband claims he has none, I’m just waiting to talk to his mother and grandmother) – and for those of you who now have kids of your own, what madness are you perpetuating?
Good luck making the ends meat.