Inspired by Corinne’s recent post on irrational childhood fears (I wrote one about my own childhood fears here), here are some stupid things I believed when I was a child:
That women weren’t allowed to drive
My mum didn’t drive (she actually can drive, but I’d never seen her do it…) and neither did either of my grandmothers. My dad and grandfathers, meanwhile, were all drivers, so my assumption from this was that women weren’t allowed to drive, and only men could do it. My world was rocked to its core the first time I saw a friend’s mum get behind the wheel – and I screamed my stupid head off the first time I saw my own mum do it. Sorry mum – and, you know, womankind in general. I should never have doubted you.
Or drink coffee
Before you go thinking I grew up in some kind of twisted, woman-hating community, let me just say that, as with the driving, this was a belief born from the simple observation that my mum always drank tea, while my dad always drank coffee, ergo ALL women and men must be divided thus in their hot-beverage preferences. One day, however, we were visiting my grandparents and I realised, to my absolute astonishment, that my gran was drinking coffee, while my granddad had a nice cup of tea. Again, my young world was rocked: if I could go back in time and tell my younger self that she would one day drive AND drink coffee, she would probably have assumed she was going to grow up to be a man…
That there was a place called ‘Thyness’
Every morning in school, they’d make us all stand up and recite The Lord’s Prayer, which we learned by rote. No one ever took the time to explain what the words meant, and I’d never seen it written down (I was still learning to read at that time, so that’s probably why), so my mind translated the line, “For thine is the kingdom” into “for Thyness the kingdom”, and I decided ‘Thyness’ must be another place, a bit like heaven – maybe like God’s holiday home, or something? I was quite confused by why God needed TWO places to live, but I believed in the existence of ‘Thyness’ until I one day saw the words to the prayer written down, and felt pretty stupid. Not as stupid as my friend Barrie, though, who spent part of his childhood thinking God was called ‘Harold’. ‘For Harold be thy name?’
That God and Santa Claus were related
Can you tell ours wasn’t a religious house? I knew, of course, that God and Santa weren’t the same person, but it seemed to me that they must be related – brothers, maybe, or first cousins, at the very least. Think about it, though: both had long white beards, a connection to Christmas day, lived in the sky (more on that later), were able to watch us at all times, and were both quite judgey, with a particular interest in whether we’d been naughty or nice. The only differences, as far as I could tell, were that Santa hadn’t created the world, and God didn’t give us toys every Christmas. I know which one was my favourite, is all I’m saying…
That the North Pole wasn’t a real place (also, was a literal pole)
I see you looking a bit confused there: did you not know Santa lives in the sky? I believed he did: a belief born of nothing more than the fact that he was always depicted flying through the sky on his sleigh. If the sleigh could fly, I concluded Santa must live in the sky, because why else would he want to spend a lot of time there? For this reason, I imagined the North Pole (which is where I’d been told he lived), floating above the earth, somewhere between Heaven and Thyness, and supported by a very long pole. Obviously such a place did not actually exist, because COME ON, PEOPLE, so, unlike Heaven and Thyness, which were totes real (and also floating above the earth), I thought the North Pole was just a made-up place, like Narnia or somewhere. Imagine my embarrassment the first time I saw the world map…
That wolves weren’t real either
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but, as with the North Pole, I thought wolves were made up. I thought this purely because my only knowledge of them came from Little Red Riding Hood: I knew – or was at least fairly sure – that Red Riding Hood was made up, so the natural conclusion was that wolves were, too. Also, they could talk, and everyone knows animals can’t talk, STUPID.
And neither was I, actually
This is all getting a bit meta now, but to this day my mum likes to tell the story of how I’d sometimes pause dramatically in the middle of whatever I was doing, turn to her, and say, “Mummy… am I REAL?” It seemed quite implausible to me that I could be a real person, so I was quietly convinced I wasn’t one. I have NO IDEA what I thought I was if I wasn’t real, of course, but there was no real evidence to disprove my theory, and actually, there still isn’t. Well, have any of YOU ever seen me? Exactly.
I’m sure there were more of these, but I’ve embarrassed myself enough for one post, so if anyone has some strange childhood beliefs of their own to share, I’d love to hear them!