A couple of days ago I overheard the boys talking and had to clarify that when someone says, “I’d bet my life,” you don’t actually kill them if they are wrong.
This got me thinking about some of the misunderstandings that had me quietly worried when I was a kid.
1) On road trips, I thought my father was “drinking and driving” when he was drinking (a coffee, or Coke) while he was driving. I was sure he would be arrested.
2) When my mother used to wash my ears to make sure “potatoes weren’t growing” I was very troubled by the thought of waking up one day with baby potatoes back there.
3) At the eye doctor, when I had to choose which lens made things more focused, “1, 2 or the same?” I was anxious the whole time thinking one wrong answer would screw up my glasses for the rest of my life.
4) I was scared to look up at the sky in case I accidentally looked directly at the sun and went blind.
5) I was very concerned that everybody was wrongly adding a 2nd letter N to the alphabet song. I was hearing “Y, N, Z” instead of “Y and Z”.
6) When I was told not to flush the toilet when someone was in the shower, I thought that was because the dirty water from the toilet bowl would come out of the showerhead.
7) I took it literally at Catholic mass, when our priest held up the chalice before communion and proclaimed that Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me.” I got laughs from the family when I did it once at home but, being very afraid for my soul, I surreptitiously continued to raised my glass of milk before supper for months.
8) “Sleep tight; don’t let the bed bugs bite.” This cutesy goodnight had me scared that giant bugs were going to come out from under the bed and attack. I used to insist on the door being left open and the bathroom light on, claiming I was scared of the dark but I really hoped the bed bugs would be afraid of the light.
9) I had an allergy to shellfish when I was young and couldn’t understand why my parents made me eat “scallop” potatoes when they knew they would make me sick.
10) When food or water “went down the wrong pipe”, I thought that the back of my mouth had two different holes and that I wasn’t swallowing properly.
11) When I heard about guerrilla warfare on the news, I thought that gorillas were arming themselves preparing for an attack. Those Uzi toting apes, and their pals the killer bees, gave me a few sleepless nights.
How about you? Is there anything you misunderstood as a child that gave you pause for thought?