Monday Roundtable: Our Most Incorrect Childhood Beliefs

Kids are adorable, but kinda confused about the way the world works. Most of us believed some really wacky things when we were little, and some of us even held onto those wacky beliefs well into adulthood. Here are the most adorable/hilarious/mildly alarming things we believed when we were young.

Alaina, Staff Writer

I was convinced for a very long time that there was a nursery inside my mom’s uterus that kept me snug and safe until I was born. Like, I knew I was incubated inside of her, but I figured I was just always a full grown baby, but miniature, and I had a nanny who took care of me for nine months and a crib and a playroom and toys. I don’t remember when I figured out that wasn’t how pregnancy worked, which makes me think that I maybe quietly believed this to be true until 6th or 7th grade!

Creatrix Tiara, Staff Writer

I was very adamant that I was supposed to have an identical twin sister, or that I had one and she disappeared somehow, maybe through adoption or a baby switch or something. My mother swears she only gave birth to one of me and my (extremely logical) elder sister still doesn’t understand why I’m so insistent. I have been obsessed with twins from a young age and still feel a massive hole in my heart, like I was missing someone important. I read stories about twins reunited in adulthood and I cry out of envy. I still feel somehow that I was meant to have a twin – did I absorb her in utero? Did I have a twin in a past life? Was I a changeling and my twin is a faerie? WERE MY CHILDHOOD CONSPIRACY THEORIES CORRECT? We may never know (unless someone wants to sponsor a genetic test…)

Mey, Staff Writer

As a child I thought the supervillain Lex Luther was Black, because of how he was drawn in the Superman and Justice League cartoons. I learned that he wasn’t in high school For an actually embarrassing thing, until about three or four years ago I thought canyons were big holes in the ground. Like, since the Grand Canyon is 6,000 ft deep, I thought that meant that the bottom was 6,000 ft below sea level. Also I assumed that speed the river got when it was going downhill to the bottom of the canyon was enough to push it back uphill at the end of the canyon. Science.

Laura M, Staff Writer

I definitely thought the deacon in my church was God as a little kid. I don’t know how I originally came to this conclusion, but the man never spoke and everyone acted, like, reverent and deferential in his presence. It took Catholic elementary school for me to replace that particular false belief with another!

A.E. Osworth, Staff Writer

I value knowledge above all else, so when I learn something I tend to forget ever not having known it? But luckily I am currently sitting in my mother’s house and she said I logically arrived at the conclusion that my Uncle Artie was Santa Clause because he had no children and could go out at night and stay out all night.

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Staff Writer

I thought that in order for a someone to become pregnant, all they had to do was sit down with a partner and basically fill out a bunch of paperwork? And then BOOM: baby. I don’t know how to explain it any way other than that! This was before I had any kind of knowledge of sex, obviously, but also like basic human anatomy? What kind of paperwork did I imagine? Who did potential parents submit said paperwork to? A doctor? A council? GOD? I cannot remember how thoroughly thought out my pregnancy paperwork theory was. But I do remember that I was watching Friends with a friend when we were probably too young to be watching Friends, and she either knew nothing about sex like me or was taught to believe that premarital sex was an impossibility, because she was very confused as to how Rachel could be pregnant with Ross’ baby if they were not married, and I very calmly explained to her that marriage was not a requisite for pregnancy, a fact that I knew because of the existence of my half-brother, and then I proceeded to calmly explain that in order to have a baby, two adults just have to sit down and sign some forms. I’m pretty sure she was like… don’t think so, Kayla. But it’s what I believed! And I can’t remember how I eventually found out I was wrong! And yet… I can’t help but think that when the day comes for me to have a baby — something I very much want — I’m probably going to have to, like, fill out a bunch of paperwork! SO WAS I REALLY TOTALLY WRONG?

Heather Hogan, Senior Editor

My mom was always trying to scare me into not doing stuff by telling me if I did this or that thing I was going to die, which absolutely worked on me because I had terrible anxiety and always thought I was dying anyway. One of the things she told me was not to open plastic Happy Meal toy bags with my teeth because if I swallowed plastic I was a dead dead dead. One day when I was opening one of those bags on the sly, in the backseat of the car, I accidentally did swallow a small piece of plastic. I was like, “Oh dang, I’m a goner.” I didn’t want my family to be traumatized by watching me die, so I was like, “I love you. I love you all so much.” And then I laid my head down and went to sleep, hoping to pass away peacefully, and they’d just figure it out when we arrived at our destination. However, I did not die. The worst part is, when we pulled into my great-grandma’s driveway like an hour later and I woke up from my nap, it didn’t occur to me that my mom was building a kingdom of deception in my little mind; I thought Jesus had performed a miracle on me and brought me back to life.

My sister says I also believed all TV show were live and the actors had to figure out what to do next during the commercial breaks.

Molly Priddy, Staff Writer

Growing up in Montana, we have a lot of mountains around, and on top of the mountains are usually blinking red lights to show aircraft that hey, mountain here. But when I was a kid, I was pretty convinced those red lights were vampire holds at the top of the peaks, lit up at night when the vampires were partying and awake and ready to slaughter. (I… had a lot of anxiety issues as a kid. And as an adult.)

Valerie Anne, Staff Writer

Catholic school is not known for its sex education, and my parents weren’t about to offer up any information I didn’t ask for, so I knew little to nothing about the mechanics of sex. Apparently the only question I had asked my mother is how babies are born, and she told me some women have surgery to get the baby out of their tummies and I was like, “Great, thanks,” my curiosity satiated. Though I watched shows I probably shouldn’t have at a young age, and definitely was reading books too mature for my age, so I gleaned some things, for better or worse.

One time when I was probably around 10, I was over my cousins’ house, my favorite place to be, as it was notoriously looser on the rules than my own. We rented the movie Speed, even though it was Rated R and I was super not allowed to watch Rated R movies. When my mom found out, she was FURIOUS; my response was, “Don’t worry, mom! The whole movie took place outside, so there couldn’t be any sex!” My mother relaxed a bit then, knowing her daughter wasn’t wholly corrupted yet, since I was sure that sex could only happen in beds. I imagine Buffy is where I learned that wasn’t true, since Buffy is where I learned most things.

Erin, Staff Writer

This is sad but as a very, very young child I didn’t think parents could die. Like I understood that people died, but I didn’t realize it happened to, say, your own parents. When my mom told me that her dad died when she was young, that’s when it clicked, and it clicked like a leaf blower to face. I still remember where I was and how I was sitting! Instantly I became the most worried child on planet earth. For years after that moment most of my waking thoughts revolved around the various ways in which my parents could die, and I did not like for them to leave my side lest they fall into these death traps. :/

Stef, Vapid Fluff Editor

I didn’t necessarily believe that my stuffed animals came alive and played out dramatic scenes in my room whenever I left or went to sleep, but I didn’t not believe it. When I got a toy camera, I used to take very detailed photos of where everything was to see if my things were all in the same place later (but you know, back then you had to get photos developed and godknows what they got up to in the meantime). I was similarly skeptical of the tooth fairy and used to leave notes requesting handwriting samples with my discarded teeth. It may surprise you to learn that I grew up with severe trust issues which have not entirely dissipated.

Raquel, Staff Writer

I had a lot of strange anxieties and guilts as a child (big surprise), and one of the biggest ones was a sense that I was always being surveilled. I think some part of that must have trickled down from being told that God SLASH Santa was always watching and judging, or something. (As were demons, waiting to trip you up — I read the Screwtape Letters far too young to really get anything out of it besides the idea that there was a whole cohort of evil beings out to trick me into sinning.) I got a lot of ideas out of books, including the idea to pull out strands of my hair and weave them onto my doorknobs and shelves so I’d know whether someone had tried to open them (ignoring the fact that there was nothing in them to see, and I hid my diaries inside my yearbooks). It’s not what you expect to mess a kid up when they watch a crime show, but when I learned about two-sided I was convinced that my parents had cameras behind all the mirrors in the house, and could see if I was being bad or doing anything gross or weird. I spent years covering myself in a towel while still in the tub and speeding past the bathroom mirror to a corner of my room to get dressed. I almost never, ever got in trouble but I was terrified of it. Thank god Elf on a Shelf was before my time or I might never have recovered.

Riese, Editor-in-Chief

My great-grandmother was the first person in my family to die when I was conscious enough to know what death was, and I thought she died because of being so mean to my Mom and honestly to everybody. I thought you could die of being mean, like G-d would just be done with you if you were too mean. Sadly, this is not the case.

Carolyn, NSFW Editor and Literary Editor

As a child I thought that fairies existed and also totally wanted to be our friends, and actually I’m not sure that this applies because fairies are totally real, obvs.

Alexis, Staff Writer

I completely believed my teacher when she said the gingerbread men we made the day before got up and ran away. I thought the Alicia Keys poster on my wall could see me, which I think had something to do with internalized homophobia. I thought my dad’s father was a white man and that we just kept up the picture of my grandma marrying another man for shits and giggles, but then one day he stayed out in the sun and I realized he was black (his eyes changed colors so I thought he was a vampire too). There was a picture of my dad as a kid in his old bedroom that looked like he didn’t have a left leg and I kept trying to figure out how he had a prosthetic that looked so much like his other leg, but then was told that it was a shadow in the picture hiding his leg. There was a long time where I held my breath when we went through lights because I thought it kept us from getting into car accidents.

Natalie, Staff Writer

My mom knew that any mention of liver — one of her favorite dishes — to her children would elicit groans and strong refusals to even touch our dinner. Eventually, we figured that she’d given up the fight as she never mentioned us having liver again. Turns out, as I’d discover some years later, she kept making liver for dinner… only she sliced it thin, pounded it out and called it cube steak.

Vanessa, Community Editor

Okay, this is very, very weird, so bear with me… I, uh, thought that maybe we were all living in a dinosaurs stomach. NOT DEFINITELY OKAY, JUST MAYBE. Like maybe the stories were true, dinosaurs had roamed the earth and then become extinct and then a long time later humans arrived, but uh maybe we were kind of wrong about the timeline of it all and humans arrived and dinosaurs just pretended to be extinct and then when we were least expecting it they ate us, but not like in a terrifying way where we died, just kind of swallowed us whole, and then we were allowed to keep living our lives in a dino’s stomach! I DON’T KNOW, OKAY. The belief had some flaws, for sure – I often imaged the dinosaur having swallowed the entire globe, so like ALL OF EARTH was chilling out in a brontosaurus’s belly, but of course that doesn’t really line up with the part where dinosaurs also needed a globe to exist on… do you see what I mean about the spotty logic? Also, okay, and don’t judge me, but after I saw the movie Titanic this idea kind of got a little bit garbled and then I thought maybe we were all on a huuuuuuuge sinking ship, like we were all living life on this giant wooden boat that was, unfortunately, slowly sinking, and we would definitely all die, sooner than later, and it was terrifying but also not really the biggest deal because you know, the ship was HUGE, so if you didn’t think about it too hard it’s almost like it made no sense at all and definitely wasn’t happening. You know?

Reneice, Staff Writer

There was a year, I think I was about 6 or 7, that I was CONVINCED that the way boobs happen is they grow a teeny tiny bit every day until your 16th birthday and then that’s when they’d be full grown. Almost daily I would look in the mirror at my chest and convince myself that it had grown just a little, then I’d run up to my older brother and flash him and shout “THEY GREW!!” He was always traumatized and I thought it was so funny and silly that he reacted so intensely. Then I grew up and understood the gravity of what I was saying/doing and that so did my at the time teenage brother and now I’m the one that’s traumatized from embarrassment.

KaeLyn, Staff Writer

When I was little, like 3 or 4, I really truly believed there was a Belly Button Monster that lived in my belly button and would bite my finger if I put it in there. I don’t know why my dad told me this particular lie, but I imagine it was because I wouldn’t keep my fingers out of my belly button. I think I eventually came to the conclusion that this was not, in fact, logical or maybe my dad got tired of keeping up the charade. I also don’t know why I was so into my belly button, but my 16 months old daughter loves to put her fingers in my belly button every time she catches me with my shirt up, so maybe it’s biological.

Laneia, Executive Editor

I 100% thought that unicorns were real. I found out they weren’t from a book and I remember just putting it down and needing a minute. It was so disappointing. I thought the ground under my house would eventually open up and that about 8 feet down was molten lava and my bed would fall into it while I was sleeping. I would go to sleep hoping that night wasn’t the night when the ground broke. I also thought that you didn’t breathe when you slept, so I would hold my breath when I pretended to be taking a nap, which was really difficult!

Abeni, Staff Writer

I thought that space heaters were like, celestial? Like “OUTER space.” I thought they were being marketed as having some kind of galactic technology or something, like they harnessed the sun? I was really embarrassed when I realized (like, in my 20s probably) they, you know, heated a particular space in your house, like one room. I’m really glad I never spoke of my space heater (lack of) understanding to anyone, I might’ve died.

Yvonne, Senior Editor

I grew up in a small 2-bedroom home. When I was about five or six, my parents and my younger brother slept in one room and I slept in another room with my older sister. My sister, who is ten years older than me, would always stay up way later than my bedtime because she was doing homework in the living room. I was terrified of going to bed without her but of course, my mom made me go to sleep. While I was waiting for my sister to finish her homework, I lay awake terrified that bigfoot or a UFO would come through the wall facing the street and take me with them. We lived far away from city limits that I thought bigfoot roamed the area and that an alien would land in the empty field behind my house and take me with them. I’m not sure why I truly thought this and I mean, they would have to knock down a wall and surely my family would hear it and try to save me. I also thought that when people said someone “disappeared” as in went missing, that they had actually dematerialized into particles and disappeared like the Wicked Witch. I think I might have watched too many episodes of Unsolved Mysteries .



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    • I didn’t know narwhals were real either!!! When I was watching planet earth around 13 and saw footage of multiple narwhals being real, live animals together I just about lost it! I mean honestly how? how are they real?

    • Yeah, I never saw an actual photo just cute cartoon Ines, so I was the same. I just thought the were along the lines of kitticorns and all the other made-up horned animals, like rhinos*


    • The part about this comment that really gets me is the idea that someone could have heard about narwhals in a context where the logical response seemed to be: “Oh, some fairy tale sea-unicorn, gotcha.”

      • lololol so the context in which i first heard about narwhals was “someone else’s dorm mascot”

        so… yes that was exactly the logical response

      • That’s exactly what I thought though and had no reason to question it. I first remember seeing narwhals on cute stuff like notebooks and socks, often with narwhals and unicorns. So I just figured it was the sea version of a unicorn, it was a cute fantasy creature to complement unicorns. But they are REAL!?

  1. I grew up thinking that a lot of the quirky little things my dad said were things that he made up, but it turns out MOST of the shit he says comes from television and movies. Mainly Seinfeld.

    Every so often, I’ll be watching a movie/show and someone will say a thing that I THOUGHT was a Dad Original, and it’s just like… son of a bitch, THIS TOO???

    • As someone whose father spoke almost exclusively in Monty Python references when I was a kid, the first time I watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail was an actual epiphany. I thought they were all nonsensical Dad-isms, but no!

      (Or rather…. NI.)

  2. HEATHER I relate to this so hard. As a small child I knew that rust was bad because people were always having to get tetanus shots if they got cut on something in the movies, and for whatever reason I made the leap to RUST = DEATH. One day I was out wih my grandparents and got scratched (really superficially, for the record) so I spent all day thinking that day would be my last. I only found out that wasn’t the case when I started sobbing while saying goodbye to my grandparents when it was time to go home.

    • Same! That happened to me in elementary school. I scratched a leg with a nail from my chair and it wasn’t really painful but a little blood came out. I couldn’t stop crying because I was sure I had gotten tetanus, until the teacher told me that I would be OK.

    • Yup, me too! I didn’t want to worry anyone so I cleaned the cut and put a bandaid on it and sat around quietly freaking out and waiting to die until my mom finally told me that I was fine.

  3. This is the best roundtable I didn’t know I always wanted.

    Also, WAY harsh, Heather’s mom, and also Vanessa, that is the best thing I’ve ever heard.

  4. I was pretty little when I saw some kind of show or movie where a guy pinched a woman’s butt, and I asked my mom why. She said that it meant the man wanted to have sex with her, and I took that VERY LITERALLY. I might have been almost 20 before I realized this was a generic signal of attraction (/affection/harassment) rather than literally indicating “we will go have sexual intercourse right now this very second sex now sex sex”

    For the record, I now grab my partner’s butt at least five times per day, so take that as you will.

  5. oh man this roundtable brought up SO MANY memories. I used to think that when people said they got their period, I literally thought that meant that you had a period . inside you, like a punctuation mark small dot that you would then pee out.

    • Also period related — I waited and waited to get mine as some rite of passage. When I got it, probably at about 13?, I was absoltely deflated to realize it was NOT a one-time event and would, in fact, happen again. Like basically every month forever. I also didn’t understand how women didn’t just wear pads or tampons every day JUST IN CASE. I don’t think the science part of periods was explained to me very well.

      • omfgggg I am dyingggg! tbh I am still disappointed that this is a thing that happens every month

        • I remember going to a port-a-potty when so was little and seeing blood in it, and when I asked my mom about it something must have gotten lost in translation because I came away believing it was just something that happened when you were pregnant. I was relieved to know I wouldn’t have to worry about it for a long time, and maybe never if I decided to not have kids.

    • Oh my god I just remembered I read a book that was probably not for my age group and hadn’t ever seen the word vagina in print before so I thought it was a misprint of the word vein.
      Nor had menstruation been explained in any way shape or form to me at that age and the book was also vague on what liquid would leaking just the volume so I thought I’d start leaking something out my armpits.
      Because they were the biggest most secret place I knew veins to be that combined with some more vague stuff about how one could expect changes in their armpits.

      No wonder adult me is so explicit in explaining body things.

  6. I, too, had the fear of UFOs coming through a specific wall/window when I was alone in my bedroom.

    I do remember thinking that the radio was always live? Like until I was 10 maybe (that’s embarrassing!), I just visualized the musicians being in a room and playing live, on command.

  7. I thought everyone lived to exactly 100 and then they died, unless they tragically died at a younger age, so when my grandmother mentioned she had a friend who was 105 I thought it was truly amazing because not only was she extremely old, she’d also defied nature.

    And like Yvonne I was also convinced my bedroom was the prime alien access point in my family’s house: my bedroom looked out on a flat garage roof which was obviously the most logical place in the neighbourhood for a UFO to land, plus my window had at some point been a door to the garage roof, making it a perfect choice for alien entry.

  8. As a little child, my mother taught us how to multiply by having us multiply the super-secret real number of stooges (5) by the super-secret real number of Marx Brothers (also 5 – Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, Groucho, and Karl). I didn’t remotely think to question it, and told people that Karl Marx wax a Marx Brother until I was like 15.

    I still got off better than my sister, who when she was three was standing at a window looking at the snow when my mother says to her “what are you doing, looking for your little brother? You lost your little brother?!” We definitely never had any brothers, but she’s still traumatized like 25 years later.

  9. I thought people said “blesh you” after someone sneezed until maybe 12yrs old. I never questioned what “blesh” meant or why that was what you were supposed to say. Honestly when I found out it was “bless” it didn’t make a lot of sense either, but I felt a little silly for having always said blesh you, even if it is only a small difference in sound.

    • I thought meltdowns were “milkdowns” and nightmares were “night mirrors” for years, so I feel ya there.

      I had a very specific image of a dark mirror in a dark room that shows you all the terrible things you imagine in your sleep. It still makes more sense to me than “nightmare,” tbh.

      And I’m pretty sure “milkdown” came from the phrase about crying over spilled milk. The milk comes down, you lose your shit and start wailing on the floor: voila! Milkdown.

      • Milkdown. I like it! Maybe I’ll start using it and playing dumb when people look at me like I’m crazy.

        This whole conversation makes me want to deliberately plant (cute) malapropisms in my little niece’s vocabulary and see how long they last. Would that be evil? Because it sounds like fun.

    • My inner Hermione vibrates with the urge to be a nosy know-it all so yeah uh saying “bless you” after someone sneezes is rooted superstitions around sneezing and it’s basically a request for a deity(or just fortune) to protect the person who sneezed or a general protect us all from illness kinda thing.

      Superstitions range to everything from your soul is vulnerable to an attack from evil spirits , is trying to repel evil at the moment, to the very sensible warning sign of ill health. And many culture not just Anglophone ones have a blessing to be said after a sneeze.

      But you might already know this…

  10. This roundtable was wonderful. I used to think that my neighborhood had an enormous skunk population because I would smell them almost every night. It wasn’t until college that I realized what I thought was skunk smell was actually just my teenage neighbors smoking pot in their back yard.

  11. These are all so cute and I am particularly in love with Vanessa’s and Abeni’s, omg <3

  12. I used to think when people kissed in movies/tv shows they weren’t actually touching lips, but had some soft of invisible barrier keeping them from touching because of course people wouldn’t kiss for real without dating in real life… I have no idea where that came from and I have no idea for how long I believed that, but I feel like I was 11 or 12 when I finally realized it made no sense!

  13. Oh, Creatrix Tiara, me too, me too. As I outgrew my compulsive dreaming about finding my lost twin, I just assumed all children go through a period of obsessively thinking they had a twin. I mentioned it at a party once, and it turns out I was wrong.

    Other incorrect childhood beliefs/wishful thinking includes thinking I had a penis in utero, but that it fell off somehow, and that one day the doctor would call and explain everything to my parents and I would finally be allowed to just be a boy.

    Also, I was completely convinced that I’d be dead by age 22-23 because when I was very little I had very vivid dreams where I saw myself stabbed in the back, a young adult with long hair, in a city, and I was 110% sure it was a premonition. I obsessively protected my back as a kid, because in the back of my head I was always waiting for the knife I knew was coming. Though to be fair, this isn’t so much an incorrect childhood belief because I was pretty weirded out to find myself turning 25, alive and all.


      I did an AncestryDNA test the other day and I was disappointed to find that it didn’t match me up with a missing sibling.

      • Me three on the missing twin. Also the thinking I’d be dead by 23, although I think that was more a product of depression.

  14. I definitely thought that sex was when a man and a woman lay down next to each other in bed, naked, not touching, and a little sperm with little legs ran from the man to the woman.

    I also completely believed a little friend of mine when she told me her doll had been around since the time of the dinosaurs!

  15. These are so good! I was convinced I could fly, but like, only if my life depended on it. I chalk this up to being on a pretty rigorous swim team from a young age (6), because flying was basically the same motion / action as swimming through the air. You had to jump pretty hard into the air and then swim vigorously to get up to about rooftop level and then you could glide-swim around a bit more easily.

    I had a very vivid recurring dream that the only way I could escape this pack of wolves/werewolves chasing me around my childhood home (empty fields / forest) was to fly. My parents wouldn’t admit that I could fly, in the same way that adults would pretend not to notice bullying or other commonplace things that we weren’t supposed to talk about. This, and the fact that I didn’t encounter life-or-death situations in real life in order to verify my flying abilities, means it took me until age 12 or so before I let go of that belief.

  16. My parents told me babies came from people having a special cuddle, which worried me because I didn’t know what made a cuddle special and I didn’t want to have a baby. I think I probably demanded clarification within a few days.

    A friend’s daughter, aged maybe 6-7 at the time, I think after getting an accurate explanation, wanted to know if/hoe you could have sex without getting pregnant, which is obviously an important question.

  17. When I was about 6 and children were fidgeting whilst sitting on the carpet at school and a teacher said she would superglue us to the carpet if we didn’t stop fidgeting. My parents had to work hard to convince me she hadn’t meant it.

  18. I thought Boy George was the Ziggy Stardust alt personality of George Michael.

    Until I was 25.

  19. For some reason I believed you could only get your period if you had masturbated at least once, so when I got mine for the first time I was really worried everyone would K N O W.

    I also constantly thought there were burglars in our house making strange noises, until I went to warn my parents one time and it turned out the sounds came from their bedroom…

  20. Vanessa! :O

    Raised a catholic in Mexico, I was told by the catechism teacher that Santa Claus didn’t exist and that the gift-bringer was Niño Dios (Child God). I was sure that she was mistaken and of course Santa existed, but he would only bring your presents if you spoke English because he could only read the letters in that language, so he had an agreement with CG to split the task.

    I used to think that Niño Dios would visit the stores when they were closed on Christmas Eve to take the presents and magically materialize money in the cash registers to pay for them. I wasn’t sure how a child could carry all that stuff, so I figured out that he either could make things float in the air and make them follow him, or that he had a red wagon that he could pull. I was also confused because every family would get different kinds of wrappings, so I thought that CG would wrap the toys depending on whether you were rich or poor. That’s why my cousins who had a bigger house got these fancy boxes with ribbons, and my brother and I a more modest kind of paper.

    Baby Jesus was an elitist.

  21. I love this!

    I believed that sharks could break through the walls of swimming pools and gobble up swimmers (read: me). Okay, I didn’t really believe this in the sense that I knew it did not make logical sense and the fear immediately dissipated if there was someone else in the pool or someone watching me, but I very much believed it in the sense that when I was alone in a pool I couldn’t swim for more than a minute before scrambling out in mortal terror, thinking I’d just barely made it. (I do not know if I’ve recovered from this fear, as I haven’t gone swimming solo in a swimming pool since childhood.)

  22. Paris, the city containing the Eiffel tower where everyone speaks French, is in the US. Well it isnt, but i believed it was because I knew Disneyland was american, and Disneyland Paris had lots of adverts on tele. So Paris was in the US for sure.

    • You weren’t that wrong … I haven’t been there in over two decades, so it has probably changed, but when Disneyland Paris (then: Euro Disney) was brand new there were weird signs stating that you were entering American territory.

  23. I too had a troubling lack of sex ed and had to piece together info from watching 7th Heaven and overhearing adult conversations out of context. I thought that women got pregnant if they slept in the same bed as a guy for 2 years (as long as they’d had their first period). This is mainly because my mom’s friend got married and then 2 years later got pregnant and I remember my mom remarking “that’s about right.” So of course when I got my period at 11 I was extremely vigilant not to sleep in the same bed as a guy and was really upset when my mom would make me share a hotel bed with my little brother because I thought the times could add up and eventually I could get pregnant! I honestly don’t know when I got it figured out.

  24. I was convinced, probably via playground hearsay, that swallowing chewing gum made you die.

    Then one fateful day, I accidentally swallowed the gum at the bottom of a screwball. This caused no panic, I just spent the evening in mild denial and quietly considered my own mortality.

    I wonder if I developed a subconscious immortality complex from this episode, or I am a ghost.

  25. Produce bags used to come on a strip that you tore them from. I collected the shimmery layered strips and believed they were magic wands. Every time you made a wish you tore a layer off, until the wand ran out of wishes.

  26. Mey you’re not the only one to think Lex Luthor was black because of the way he was drawn in the cartoon. I know this because there was this statue in Drawing 1 and my efforts to draw it looked like and I quote, “Actually black Lex Luthor.” which led to a discussion of “wait you mean he actually isn’t black?” with some grumblings about drop of blood rule, colorism and maybe plaçage.

  27. People tend to find this incorrect childhood belief alarming:

    I thought evil spirits or incorporeal demons clawing their way up from Hell could escape when a toilet was flushed and they only way to avoid them from trying to infect or consume you was to keep your feet off the floor during the flush. And washing your hands was like casting some sort of temporary protection from evil or demonic tampering.

    Some silly ones:

    The pasteurization process had something to do with cows in the pasture, I was very amused when it turned out some guy had a surname Pasteur.

    Louisiana and New Orleans were two entirely different places (almost correct on that actually) and not really a part of America. My mom along with pop culture helped with that last one.

    • Nooo the pasteurisation thing?! that’s literally what i thought it was, oh my god why would they call it that if it has nothing to do with pastures…

  28. I can relate to some of what Stef said about her dolls moving. Except in my case my mom and aunt let my cousin I(both around 5-6) watch Chucky thinking it’s a children’s movie. They weren’t in the room and I got scared the fuck. For about half a decade I thought that dolls could just become living and either like to party or go on a murderous rampage. My cousin even was like I’ve seen the doll at Toys R Us. I was like if the tooth-fairy exists, then it must be true, why would he lie? I did weird things for long time as a kid before I went to bed.

    The other incorrect belief I had was that a person’s happiness depends on being married and/or having kids. Even wondered sometimes as a kid why media showed only girls & women dreaming of their dream wedding and why boys & men were not(it’s because cis-het misogyny tells them so). I stopped believing the marriage part by 13-14 years old(even went as far as calling it a scam to my parents face saying why is a license need to prove you love someone). Ugh

  29. Omg, Stef, same about the tooth fairy! Even Santa didn’t get this kind of skepticism from me but for some reason (internalized sexism) I doubted the tooth fairy’s legitimacy. I requested signatures with each letter and an explanation of how my tooth was going to be used. My mom went along with it and created a whole backstory for my tooth fairy. We became pen pals, I left her little treats with my teeth donations, and that’s the story of how I believed in the tooth fairy until freshman year of high school.

    • my grandpa created the tooth fairy insurance company and sent me letters from ‘chief molar’ regarding my claim for my entire childhood. the letters came from florida in the winter and always got my dog’s name wrong, just like he did. maybe the most jewish thing about me.

    • !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      like every time i glanced at it, i was like “……..she *knows*”

  30. As a kid, I thought that it was bride and broom instead of bride and groom. But now some butch brides get called brooms so I wasn’t too left field on that one.

    More worryingly, those little pedestrian refuge islands in the middle of the road where you can stand it you didn’t cross all the way over in time…. well I thought they were called refugee islands. CONTEXT: I live in Australia. The government literally puts refugees on islands while they decide their fate. Like, they are trying to go from one place to another, involving a hazardous journey… and part way through they are stuck on an island waiting for the universe to let them continue their journey. It made so much sense at the time. I found out the truth when I tried to give a class presentation about how odd it was to call the middle of road islands after the real islands.

  31. I believed, wholly and without question, that there truly existed a fierce tribe of women in the Amazon rainforest whose cultural practice included removing the left breast (for better archery skills) and shunning all men except for one day a year when a few were selected to donate sperm. (My mom was a science teacher so I took a very matter-of-fact approach to sexual reproduction.)

    To my hopeful, gay-as-fuck, budding womynist little brain this all-women arrangement seemed completely plausible and I even remember using it as proof in my third-grade playground arguments about why girls were as good as boys.

    I was CRUSHED in middle school when I read a book that included some Greek Mythology and I learned that the Amazons were a mythic tribe.

    It was a blow to my deep-held belief that the patriarchy was BS and therefore there were lots of places on Earth where it was not and had never been the reality.

    To this day I wish it were true!

  32. Omg I also thought I was being constantly surveilled by my parents! The weirdest part about this thought was that my parents were actually very respectful of our privacy so I knew deep down it wasn’t true, but I also couldn’t prove there WEREN’T cameras set up where I couldn’t see them…(there were not)

  33. I used to think that all (cis) guys had the same hip-to-leg-length ratio because how ELSE did they always seem to find pants that actually fit? I was at least 16 or so when I finally figured out that no … some guys do have wider hips … it’s just that men’s pants sizes actually make sense and women’s pants sizes are determined by weird-ass chaos magick hocus-pocus stuff.

    • Women’s pants’ sizing from their inception did not have inseam or any other sensible measurements men’s pants have in regards to fit or cut because when modern sizing started up such measurements (especially an inseam) would be an affront to dignity and modesty.

      Nice girls didn’t wear pants everyday either back then nor were they supposed to be closely tailored so just sticking with bust-waist-hips measurements was fine before vanity sizing and every manufacturer under the sun deciding at like random what their ratio was going to be for various cuts of pants and other clothes.

  34. I thought that if you kissed someone for longer than 20 seconds you would get pregnant.

    I also thought that you could see atoms at night.

  35. Hi!! I signed up for an account to say this!! My comment is for Creatrix Tiara: you might have chimeric dna! AKA two or more sets of dna in one regular human body! People with chimeric dna will sometimes have the unshakable feeling that they had a twin who somehow disappeared. One of my friends used to follow around her parents and ask where her twin went (she was an only child). Turns out it was just a dna thing!!

    • You know, I’ve long wondered about that specific thing, but I have no idea how I’d get tested for that in Australia!

  36. I also believed for a long time as a teenager that all girls were attracted to girls and only pretended to like boys because that was a societal expectation. It was beyond my comprehension that girls could actually be attracted to boys.

    • Hah yes, teenage me always just smiled and nodded when my friends starting talking about hot this or that boy’s butt was.

  37. A lot of the silly things I believed as a kid were actually caused by my older brothers. One of the stories I remember clearly. If we went to my grandmothers we would pass a modern type church. (Well modern, I think 70s or 80s) My brother told me it was a swimming pool and the tower was where the diving board was. I believed this for many many years.

    Another thing: I sort of always imagined that seamen had little pieces in it. I mean, it had lots of little spermcells in it, so these should be clots? I’ve had super clear and honest sex ed from my parents, don’t know where this belief came from (no pun intended) but it stayed with me for many years.

    I do know that when I was at uni – studying medicine – I knew it had to be wrong but I still imagined it that way.

  38. Growing up, I must have watched The Last Unicorn a bajillion times. The transformation sequence always made my cry and I never understood why until recently. I used to think I could pray or wish on stars and magic would somehow change me back to my true form…

    Then one day in my late 20’s, I realized I was a unicorn all along. How silly of me to have forgotten ^_^

  39. My God, this is hilarious. When I was little I thought something similar to Kayla’s. I literally just thought that a man and woman got married and then the next day the woman would wake up with I giant abdomen. I also thought that infants came out from the anus, not the vagina, and I didn’t even really know what a vagina was till I was like 11. I’d just look at my naked self in the mirror and thought; ‘Huh. It’s flat.’ Then I just shrugged and ran off to go make movies of my dolls with our old canon camera. Speaking of dolls I used to take nudes of my barbies all the time. Ok. That’s enough.

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