Fourteen+ things I believed when I was a kid that turned out to be false

We all believe some strange things when we’re kids. Here are slightly more than 14 of my childhood beliefs that turned out to be false.

1. A girl on my camp bus told me that eating any small part of a watermelon that wasn’t deep red would give you cancer. I labored under a massive fear of watermelon for years, afraid to eat even the red part just in case the knife spread the cancerous rind juices. (This same girl told me her cousin was the kid who played Oliver on The Brady Bunch so, yeah. I also believed her about that.)

1a. You also had to be wary of swallowing watermelon seeds because of watermelon babies because duh. I picked this idea up from someone else. Watermelon was basically a terrifying fruit for much of my childhood.

2. I was in middle school when I learned that carpenter ants are just large ants, not old ants. In other words, thought big ants were big because they were old. Seriously, I thought this until I was in middle school.

3. I thought adults knew everything. Meaning when you got to a certain age, say 26 or 27, you’d have all the information you needed for your lifetime. I mean, I knew some grown ups were smarter than others, but thought that everyone came with the same basic information in their heads, like they all had a “Welcome to Adulthood: This is Everything You Need to Know” chip downloaded into their brains by a certain age. Not literally but you know what I mean?

4. I believed that I would marry John Travolta one day and this would be awesome. I drew pictures of what our house would look like and every room had its own swimming pool (???).

5. I was very gullible (ya think?) so I believed all the urban legends: That Mikey from the Life cereal commercial died from a stomach explosion after a fatal combination of Pop Rocks and soda; that a kid from down my block got an apple with a razor blade in it at Halloween and it was “on the news”; that the visage of Bloody Mary lurked in every nighttime mirror and that Susie from my kindergarten class saw an alligator in the sewer. In Illinois.

6. I believed that babies came out of their mothers’ butts. I have no idea. I saw pregnant bellies but thought it switched to the back in the birthing process. Don’t question me!

7. I believed that you could dig to China. I spent a good chunk of a couple of days attempting this in our backyard before my mom noticed and yelled at me to stop. My portal to China, and all the money I was going to earn by selling tickets, was axed.

8. I believed I had a graveyard of accidentally swallowed gum in my stomach that would be there my whole life. :( I also was told that Bubble Yum was made out of spider eggs, so it was removed from my regular chewing rotation.

9. My grandmother told me that my face could “get frozen” with crossed eyes if someone hit my back at the moment I was crossing them. I believed her but I didn’t stop making faces because her reaction was hilarious. Also from my grandmother: cats steal breath from babies; say kenahorah after every positive thing you acknowledge so as not to attract the evil eye (it’s a Yiddish/Yinglish thing); wait at least an hour after eating to swim or YOU WILL GET A CRAMP AND DROWN.

9 a. Speaking of bodies of water, I was told and believed that sharks “got into” Lake Michigan and for one summer I avoided the beach in terror. The only thing scarier would be if they were swimming around with watermelons.

10. I was taught that sexually active teenage girls were “fast,” dirty and immoral. I was also taught that sexually active teen males were cool. So yeah…

11. I believed that if girls were mean to you, it was because they were jealous. (I only kind of believed this.)

12. I believed that if boys were mean to you, it was because they liked you. (See above parenthesis.)

13. I believed that if everyone worked hard enough, everyone would have equal opportunities.

13a. I believed that everyone was basically treated like equals.

13b. I believed that if someone wasn’t getting ahead, they just weren’t trying hard enough, and that there was no racism anymore because Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery.

14. I believed that the KKK and Nazis were relics of the past.

Marla Rose is a Chicago-area writer and co-founder of and

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