Things I Used to Think About

Once when I was about 8 or 9 I asked my mother, “How old are you when you stop liking candy?” I never saw (or noticed) my parents or any other grown-up eat candy. I figured grown-ups had lots of money and could do and eat whatever they wanted to and since they chose to eat stuff like vegetables and lentils instead of candy, they must not like candy. To reinforce this logic, I also noticed that I liked candy less than my younger siblings, ergo I must be well on my way to being a grown-up.


I used to think that if someone would just sit down and explain to criminals that what they were doing is wrong, they would stop doing it. Because no one would deliberately do something wrong. So, making them aware of the rules ahead of time seemed a lot more efficient than packing them in jail after they’d already stolen something or hurt someone.


While stubbornness is not usually one of my failings, no one could convince me, as a child, that dogs came in any other colours aside from brown and black. I guess I’d only ever seen white or grey dogs in wintertime and believed they were just covered in snow.


The little blinking signal lights inside our car were a great mystery to me. The only thing I could figure was that the car somehow knew where we were going and flashed that dashboard light on the right or left to tell my dad which way to turn. I plagued him with questions about it, but he just made up even crazier stories about the magical properties of the automobile.


I used to think that when you went somewhere by airplane that “they” only packed you into the plane and sent you up in the air so that “they” could rearrange things on earth so that it would look different when you came back down. I don’t know why this seemed more logical to me than the idea of actual other countries.

27 responses to “Things I Used to Think About

  1. There’s nothing like the wonderful mind of a child. As for air travel, maybe you got the idea from movies in which case you would be right and “they” would be the movie set designers.
    In the case of the blinkers, your parents must have been better drivers than my mom. Blinkers did not turn off automatically back then and mom sometimes left her blinker on. I guess you would have thought our car wanted Mom to drive around in circles.

  2. I used to think that you had to be married to have babies.
    I used to think that if my brother used my toothbrush, I would get sick, even if I never used that particular toothbrush again.
    It’s just the past four or five years that I have realized that neither of the above is true, and I’ll turn 52 next week. 🙂

  3. Upon passing a Chevrolet car plant while on a car trip to Florida, my Dad told my brother and I that “Chevrolet” was American for “Ford”. I believed that for years.
    I also used to think that all bald men were seriously ill…

  4. When I was very young, most of my mother’s closest friends were called Betty. As a result I had 6 “aunt” Betty’s. Some small part of me thought that when you became a woman you changed your name to Betty. (even though my mother’s name was not Betty).

  5. Remember when you used to see white dog poo lying around in the street (in the days before dog owners were expected to scoop)? I thought that was done by white dogs. There was more brown poo around, because there are more brown dogs than white ones, obviously.

  6. Dave – Not so strange, I think. Kids process things in mysterious ways. I wish I’d kept a list of mind-bobbling questions JR has asked me over the years…

    Jodes – I think a lot of kids think that – even grown-ups automatically call cats “she” and dogs “he”.

    Geewits – I don’t think our blinkers turned themselves off either – my dad was just very clever in turning them on and off without me noticing.

    Eyeteaguy – No. It’s okay. I’m all better now.

    Bob – AND you used to believe that Santa Claus is real …at least you still did a couple of months ago…

    Trashy – You mean all bald men AREN’T seriously ill?

    Violetsky – That seems perfectly understandable. How bizarre.

    Loth – And the white dogs were only white because they were covered in snow..poor things. And probably ate snow – ergo pooped white.

  7. I used to think our dog Roddy went to live on a lovely farm until I saw an episode of Friends. The one when Ross discovers his dog never really went to a farm – he went to doggie heaven. I turned to my husband and said “That is really funny because our dog ACTUALLY went to a real farm”. He laughed his ass off while I called Mom to confirm the horrid details. I was 34. Pathetic eh?

  8. When I was young, I asked my mother why dogs wag their tails. She told me that they did that when they were happy. Having not mastered the concept of cause and effect, I spent the better part of the next year walking around clutching our dog’s tail and wagging it, thinking I was making him happy.

    He was very patient.

  9. One of the things I firmly believed as a child were The Monster Rules.

    All monsters lived by a kind of honour system that kids instinctively knew. For example, “Monsters only come out after dark”. When our mothers told us to come home when the street lights came on, all the neighbourhood kids understood that, according to The Rules, there was a kind of “window of opportunity” between the time the streetlights came on and the time it actually gets dark… actual night coming about 30 – 40 minutes after sunset. No self-respecting monster would dream of attacking a child during this time of safe passage. Those were The Rules.

    Another Rule was, “What you can’t see won’t hurt you”. If you were asleep in your bed, snuggled on your side in a semi-fetal position, and then woke up with the certain knowledge that a large snarling monster was lying in bed behind you, fangs bared and claws outstretched… you were safe provided you did not turn around to look at the monster. As long as you lay frozen with your back to the fiend, it was powerless… but the second you peeked over your shoulder, you were doomed. Those were The Rules.

    The same went for the monster under the bed. You lay on your bed, looking up at the ceiling, secure in the knowledge that a slavering beast was just under your mattress. It was itching to grab you and drag you under the bed and devour you… but if you just resisted the urge to look under the bed, no harm would come to you.

    There were different rules for different monsters. Boogeyman Rules. Ghost Rules. There is an entire book and movie industry built around the Vampire and Werewolf Rules. And if Hollwood has prepared us for anything, it is a zombie attack. Everyone knows The Zombie Rules.

    I long ago came to appreciate that The Rules rule!

    To this day, instead of a bed, I have the box spring and mattress rest directly on the bedroom floor. I may be an adult… but I’m not stupid!

  10. I really belived that if you ate apple seeds, a tree would grow in your stomach. To this day I don’t eat an apple all the way down to the core.

    I also thought it was cool that my dad smoked (well, everyone did back then it seems), because inhaling the smoke would keep him warm in winter. Conversely I thought it would make him hotter in summer.

  11. I thought that inside the record albums that my parents listened to were ants with instruments. And they were scared into playing and singing by the record-player needle.

  12. Friar – Well there goes my entire life’s work related to that theory!

    MM – Oh no! That’s hilarious.

    Fool – I think you could probably apply that principle to people…….

    Geewits – Kids are weird critters, eh?

    Daniel – And all this time the monster actually resided within you!!! Mwah-ha-ha

    Jazz – Was it just apples or all fruit? Did you ever accidentally swallow a cherry pit? Man, that scared the hell out of me the first time I did that.

    Alison – Okay, that’s officially the strangest childhood assumption I’ve ever heard. Why ants?

  13. Oh, I only wish I could remember these things! I just can’t for the life of me remember being a kid at all. I do remember that my little brother and sister thought that they would grow up and marry each other and that I and my older brother would do the same. We mocked them for ages over that one! 🙂

  14. I know I had a lot of crazy ideas when I was a kid, but the only ones I can think of are: I couldn’t understand why people didn’t just go to the bank and take out as much money as they ever wanted. Then I also thought that everything in stores should just be free. Obviously I was a bit of a communist at heart.
    Mindful Merchant’s is the funniest and saddest though!

  15. Julie – You don’t remember being a kid? That’s odd. From what age do you start having memories?

    Alison – Of course! What else could it have possibly been? I don’t think kids wonder about the magic of technology anymore – they just get pissed off when it doesn’t work and scoff when old people don’t know how to use something.

    Finola – My daughter thought that too. I think she still thinks it, especially when I tell we don’t have enough money for something and she says “well, get some from the bank”.

  16. I used to believe that if you flushed the toilet and ran water in the sink at the same time you would be getting your toilet water back. I was rather insistent that no one in the house wash dishes, cook, or drink tap water if the bathroom was in use.

  17. Interesting that you shared the same “cause and effect” perspective as did the young charecter in James Joyce’s “Portrait of the artist…” I recall his aunt giving someone a handkerchief and as a thank you he gave her a “kerchoo” .
    By the way when we were children the cars were alot smarter then cars are today even though we call them “smart cars” They did know the way to where we were going!

  18. Sean – In some ways, you were actually right, weren’t you?

    Lebowski – I’m going to have to think about the kerchoo thing. Don’t all kids try to work out the big strange world in this manner?

  19. My daughter puts any woman with glasses and grey hair into the category of “grannies” and assumes they are like a special breed who all have the same habits. Today, she asked very loudly as a woman of about sixty took advantage of an offer of probiotic yoghurt drinks in our local supermarket, “Why do grannies all drink so much Actimel?”

    I am lucky that the woman with the need for copious amounts of digestive aids laughed as she probably had a similar little beast in her own life, and knew that wee girls just open their mouths and shout their thoughts out.

    And Loth- I thought it was white dogs too. I’m still not keen on West Highland terriers for that very reason.

  20. Misssy M – You know what’s really funny? This: Just when we get over being embarassed at all the stuff our little ones do and say, they start being embarassed by all the stuff we do and say. PS: I love Westies, but I love Cairns more. If I were ever to get a dog, it would be a Cairn

  21. Great post!

    My French-Canadian mum used to always tell me that when I grew up, I could be anything I wanted to be. I decided I would be Chinese, because they were the prettiest.