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February 14, 2018 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Over on Twitter, one Christina asks a simple question: What's a childhood anecdote that says a lot about you?
posted by MartinWisse (155 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm...I'm debating between stepping on a nail, picking up a hot curling iron the wrong way, or almost biting the tip of my tongue off.

Yeah, I'm just as surprised as you that I survived to adulthood.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:53 AM on February 14, 2018 [8 favorites]

as per my reply on Twitter:

I got DQ'd from the library's reading program at age 8 for reading outside the allowed age-range and refusing to read inside it. On principle. The idea that I could only read the children's books offended me.
Then I helped my sister cheat at it so she could get a bigger prize.
posted by FritoKAL at 9:59 AM on February 14, 2018 [35 favorites]

Easy! I come from dog people, so since I was a wee girl, I wanted a cat. Always always. But I didn’t get one until I was 15. Regardless, my mom has a series of pictures of me throughout childhood holding cats. She still says, “I don’t know where you found them or how they found you, but you were always holding a cat!”
posted by Kitteh at 10:00 AM on February 14, 2018 [42 favorites]

I stole candles from church so I could light my secret sewer pipe hangout.
posted by stinkfoot at 10:04 AM on February 14, 2018 [35 favorites]

In high school, I was the treasurer of our National Honor Society chapter. We needed to raise money, and the four officers (including me), decided that it would be a great idea to sell these little calendar-planners that were available for such fund-raising projects. We ordered...100, I think, something like that. It worked out that each person in the group would have to sell a few, like 5.

The entire group refused, flat out, to even sell one. The other three officers promptly backed down and said, "Okay, no one has to sell them." But we'd already ordered them and paid for them, so now the chapter was down a lot of money when we'd been looking for a fund raiser. I went out door-to-door and sold every last one of them. I was not happy with this, but I did it, and it's one of the few things I've done as an individual I'm proud of.
posted by Four Ds at 10:06 AM on February 14, 2018 [43 favorites]

That I could pick a Captain Crunch "surprise toy" padlock with a Martini skewer.
posted by clavdivs at 10:07 AM on February 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

Many years before I heard Daniel Johnston's meditations on the subject, I freaked myself out by wondering how Casper the Friendly Ghost died. Pretty good predictor of the morbid, somewhat down-at-the-mouth adult I became, really.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:08 AM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

When I was a kid I had a stuffed animal from whom I was inseparable. His name was Captain Bunny. I was his sidekick.
posted by The Bellman at 10:08 AM on February 14, 2018 [28 favorites]

When I was in 9th grade, I woke up one morning feeling bored with the idea of going to school, so I pretended, very convincingly, that I had mysteriously developed some sort of painful injury during the night that prevented me from putting any weight on my right foot. I had recently been sent to the podiatrist to get an exam for my extremely flat feet, so I figured the general aura of "something's up with his feet" in the house might give me enough cover to pull off my scam, and sure enough, I was able to sell the lie perfectly. Instead of getting ready for school, my mom had me stay home while she went to work, set up an appointment at the aforementioned podiatrist's office, and then came back to pick me up in the early afternoon. In the meantime, I hung out watching Price is Right and eating everything in sight.

When we went to the podiastrist's later that day, my plan was to begin winding down the scam by saying that my foot was starting to feel better and, after an exam revealed nothing conclusive, to go to school the next day. But to my eternal surprise and outrage, the podiatrist took an x-ray of my foot and, rather than having nothing conclusive to tell my worried mom, instead pointed to the joint in the arch of my foot and mumbled something about a "possible sign of a small fracture" and sent me home on crutches, with my foot bound in a rigid boot. Obviously I was in too deep at this point to come clean, so I spent the next two days hobbling around school on crutches. By the time the weekend rolled around I was able to convince my family that my foot had miraculously healed, and I was able to return to normal walking.

To this day, twenty years later, my parents still don't know that I made the whole thing up. I never went back to that podiatrist, but I assume she's in prison now.
posted by saladin at 10:09 AM on February 14, 2018 [70 favorites]

When I was about three or four, one of the teachers at my day care read us kids a story about a boy named Henry who wanted to go play "explorer" one day. He made a bunch of little flags so he could "claim" the territory he "discovered", and then he packed some sandwiches and he and his dog went wandering around the woods a while, periodically planting flags, before heading back home for dinner. At some point they crawled through a cave and got startled by a rock formation that looked like a bear.

After they read us this, then helped all us kids make our own paper flags, and we made pretend flashlights out of toilet paper tubes and paper cups or something. Then they set up one of those kiddie crawl tunnels in one of the rooms so we could take turns crawling through the tunnel, pretending we were like Henry crawling through the cave.

And after a few minutes - I can only assume the teachers were short-staffed that day, or weren't paying close attention, or that I was much more devious than I thought. Because at some point, after I crawled through the tunnel, I just kept going - out the door and into the hallway. And no one saw me. I stood up when I got out there, took a look around, realized that I was all on my own, and eagerly kept going, down the hall past where the bathrooms were, because there was a set of stairs down there that I really wanted to know where they went. And I was an explorer, after all!

I got as far as the stairs and was on my way up when a secretary from the church office upstairs caught me. "Oh, goodness, I don't think you're supposed to be here," she said, and lead me back to the classroom. The teachers gently explained to me that "no, this is supposed to be pretend exploring, not real exploring, and you have to stay in this room, okay?" And they sent me back into the line of other kids crawling through the pretend tunnel.

And I distinctly remember being in that tunnel on another go-round through it, comparing it to being out in the hallway and on my way to find out where the stairs lead - and I distinctly remember thinking that compared to real exploring, this playing it safe pretend stuff was really, really kind of boring.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:21 AM on February 14, 2018 [36 favorites]

I'm a combination of these anecdotes:
- This is the only one my mom likes. In nursery school, there was a performance. Mostly kids stood on stage and looked around and waved to their parents--basically, didn't do the little dances and songs they were supposed to do. Except me. I stood in front and did every dance and every song all by myself, and people in the audience were like "who is that little girl!??" and my mom got to say "that's MY daughter!" Soon, I was signed up for ballet, and I danced for 16 years.

- In kindergarten, I threw my thermos in the toilet at recess and then proceeded to run around screaming "I FLUSHED MY THERMOS DOWN THE TOILET!" until I was apprehended and brought to the principal's office. They wanted to know why I threw my thermos in the toilet and was it because I didn't like my thermos or I didn't like my lunch or what. I had no reason. I still don't know why. The idea of a thermos in a toilet still makes me laugh.

- In first grade, I was the only girl on a soccer team of boys. I was also extremely tiny for my age. My grandparents were in town and watching the game; my parents were there too. In the middle of the game, I got in a fight with a kid from my own team, a head taller than me, and socked him.

- in 4th grade, I was the only girl in the advanced math group. Me, and four boys. I went on math strike until I could be in the math group with my friends. I won and I regret it to this day.

- In 5th grade, I tried to make a car that ran on water (as fuel, not a boat-car) for my science fair project. Nothing could dissuade me. I tried and tried and tried for weeks and had all these materials and plans and nothing worked, of course, and the night before it was due, I put a stupid chicken bone in stupid vinegar and that was it.
posted by millipede at 10:21 AM on February 14, 2018 [13 favorites]

When I was a kid, I immersed myself in all things baseball, especially minutiae. My dad, concerned I wasn't applying the same rigorous attention to my studies, used to say to me, "What's all this going to get you?" As it happened, when I was about 11, I won a sports trivia contest put on the school newspaper at the community college at which my mom taught. It came with a pair of field-box seats to a Mets game at Shea Stadium (never mind that they lost 99 games that year -- they were GOOD seats). I waited until my dad and I were safely ensconced in the fifth row between home and first and turned to him and said, "Not gonna get me anything, huh?" And he gave me a smile and said, "Shaddup..."
posted by AJaffe at 10:24 AM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

stinkfoot: I stole candles from church so I could light my secret sewer pipe hangout.

posted by filthy light thief at 10:25 AM on February 14, 2018 [12 favorites]

When I was nine or so, I was stuck in traffic with my mother. It was one of those cold, rainy early spring days that reminds you that winter isn't quite over and you can't throw your jacket into the back of the closet.

After some time, we finally found the source of the traffic: a car accident. A bad one. The kind where car parts are spread all over the road and in those ditches you find in parts of the US where there aren't any sidewalks. Anyway, the destroyed car was a Domino's pizza delivery car.

I puffed my cheeks out at my mother and said "Ugh, someone isn't going to get their pizza."
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 10:25 AM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

In kindergarten, I was taking a bath and somehow got a hold of my dad's razor. Proceeded to shave a pretty sweet reverse mohawk down the middle of my head without really realizing what I was doing. My mom comes into the bathroom and is shocked to see my new hairstyle.

So it's the next day, and I'm wearing a baseball cap in kindergarten, which is not allowed. As I sit down, my teacher asks me to take off my hat, and I reply that the "barber made a mistake". She takes me out in the hallway to see what could possibly have happened (and I swear I meant to correct the barber thing with "I shaved my head like a doofus", but somehow in the moment I forgot). She is horrified that a barber would do such a terrible job, but allows me to continue wearing the hat.

Fast forward a month or so, and it's parents day or something at school, and my teacher says to my mom "It's terrible what the barber did to poor Grither!". My mom is shocked and tells her what actually happened.

They have a good laugh about it and conclude that I was pretty clever for my ruse, apparently, and I didn't even get in trouble. I have a lived a charmed life.
posted by Grither at 10:25 AM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

When was 3 or 4, my mom warned me about the dangers of sticking forks into electrical sockets. However I was certain that my fork wouldn't even fit in an electrical outlet. So I called my mom over and demonstrated.

Fortunately, I was correct.
posted by Zalzidrax at 10:25 AM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

Around the age of 6 or 7 I started my very first collection, which was of bottle caps pressed into a cork board I had hanging on the wall in my bedroom. When it inevitably filled up I started removing my least favourite ones and replacing them with new ones, instead of thinking "I need a bigger cork board" or "I need another cork board." Now that I'm middle-aged and have gone through several different collecting phases I realize that was the moment I became a curator rather than a completist (and thank God for that).
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:26 AM on February 14, 2018 [26 favorites]

I made little library cards to give to all my friends because I was starting a library and they could borrow any books from me that they wanted, so long as they followed the library rules. I was sure everyone would be as excited as I was, but I got exactly zero members.
posted by matildaben at 10:26 AM on February 14, 2018 [53 favorites]

When I was 5 or 6, I snuck up on my older brother who was walking around the edge of our old station wagon on the 4-5" "lip" that was around the side (it was the 60's) and scared him so badly he fell off and broke his wrist. I felt so guilty that I wrote my confession (with Mom's help) to Miss Maryanne at Romper Room. She saw me in her magic mirror a few weeks later and told me she was proud I'd apologized! My brother tormented me a good part of our childhood and rarely got caught--there always seemed to be terrible consequences when I retaliated. I've always had a sneaking belief that there is magic in the world.

Oh, and because it was the 60's, when Mom threw us in said station wagon and rushed us to the hospital, we weren't wearing seatbelts and the back door hadn't fully latched, and the seats were that fake "pleather" stuff, so when she screetched around the corner into the parking lot, the back door opened and brother almost slid out--he grabbed the edge of the seat with his good hand and stayed in...
posted by agatha_magatha at 10:26 AM on February 14, 2018 [11 favorites]

I was the only kid at the 4th grade talent show who attempted stand-up comedy.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 10:28 AM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]

I was going to share something cute that paints me in a good light like how I got grounded from reading but actually if I'm honest this is the most defining anecdote of my childhood:

So when I was about 16 I was just starting to realize that I was super duper queer, and part of this journey of discovery involved reading a lot of smutty Kingdom Hearts slash fan fiction. As one does. At this point I had not discovered private browsing and my parents were tech-apathetic enough that I didn't consider myself at risk, but I guess somebody must have suggested to my dad he check my browsing history or something, because one night he did go in and check it after I went to bed. The next morning my mom tells me they have to have a "serious talk" that evening when my dad gets home and I'm not allowed on the computer. I suspect what's up, finagle some homework excuse to get on the computer for 15 minutes and delete all the history.

Before my father gets home my mother, trying to play it off as totally unrelated to whatever is happening tonight, has the Sex Talk with me. This is the first time she has ever addressed the issue. I'm sitting here like, "Yeah, I know this shit" but obviously I'm not going to tell her. Anyway, dad comes home, and they confront me about the Smutty Gay Fan Fiction which is obviously not acceptable in a fundamentalist conservative Christian household. Having had time to prepare for this, I have concocted a story about how I was just looking for some stories to read about Good Friends (TM) Riku and Sora, and I came across it by accident. They ask if it scared me, and I take the opportunity they've given me and convince them I was traumatized by accidentally stumbling across gay fan fiction, complete with fake crying. Since I've deleted the history (which I don't think they ever called me on, but I had a story cooked up about the computer needing an update and it deleted the history, or something like that) there's no evidence that I willfully read through 20 chapters of smutty gay fan fiction and thus they fully believe me.

That's the story of how 1) my mother only gave me the sex talk because of smutty Kingdom Hearts fan fiction, and 2) I got out of punishment and probably gay conversion therapy by convincing my parents I had been traumatized by smutty Kingdom Hearts fan fiction.

I still haven't come out to them, but I'm pretty sure they've finally figured it out, and I bet they blame it on that smutty Kingdom Hearts fan fiction.
posted by brook horse at 10:32 AM on February 14, 2018 [67 favorites]

I got DQ'd from the library's reading program at age 8 for reading outside the allowed age-range and refusing to read inside it. On principle. The idea that I could only read the children's books offended me. Then I helped my sister cheat at it so she could get a bigger prize.

Around the same age I was sent home from the public library and by the time I got back home they had called my mother to report that I had attempted to sign out "adult" books, meaning not from the children's section. My mother, who was also a librarian, marched me right back down there and sorted them out. After that I was allowed to sign out any books I wanted.
posted by lagomorphius at 10:35 AM on February 14, 2018 [14 favorites]

Most kids at my church would ask their parents if they could attend baptism class when they were 8 or 9 so they could be baptized. It was a big deal. I didn't want to get baptized, mostly because I didn't want to have to take communion every week as I really really hated grape juice. My mother finally got me to agree to go to baptism class with my younger sister and be baptized by bribing me with a Nintendo which I had been wanting for months.
posted by ilovewinter at 10:37 AM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

I remember arguing to the death with my babysitter at age 5 that the "II" after WW or World War was not, in fact, a 2, but "i i" I know what a capital "I" looks like, dammit, don't pull my leg and try to tell me that's a number. How stupid do you think I am? I'm not even in kindergarten yet and I know how to read. I'm a damn GENIUS and you're lying to me like I'm a little kid!
posted by jhope71 at 10:40 AM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]

My mother's favorite was the time when I was three and one of the older "bad" girls in the neighborhood gave me a rock (actually I think it was some kind of slaggy stuff with metal) and told me to throw it at my mother. I remember thinking this was an insane idea, because I loved my mother, so I told the girl I would not do it because my Mommy was my best friend. (This girl later also set fire to a garage playing with matches, and I was the one who told people before it burned down.)

Lest people think I was not a typical kid, this was also the same year I put a chain in my mouth (because kid - they put stupid stuff in their mouths) - the kind of chain you wear around your neck with a clasp. I then had to deal with a lot of saliva, tried to swallow without swallowing the chain, and wound up getting the clasp of the chain caught on my uvula, necessitating a trip to the emergency room. I also fell off the monkey bars while hanging upside down directly onto my head (which probably explains a lot.)
posted by gudrun at 10:42 AM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

Firstly, I grew up "unchurched". When I was in kindergarten, the class was being assessed for parts to play. They got to me, and asked me what religion I was - I couldn't reply, because I didn't know. Then the teacher asked me if I was Jewish - one of my best friends was Jewish, and his family was really kind to me, so I said "sure". I was a dreidel (and sang The Dreidel Song with my friend) in the "Christmas" play. This was a big surprise to my family.
posted by dbmcd at 10:44 AM on February 14, 2018 [44 favorites]

Going into high school, I decided to join the water polo team, and I'm still not sure why. I liked to swim, but I had no idea how to play water polo. Still, I went and did it, but I never got great at it. It was a lot of tough work, but it was generally enjoyable, still we all complained about practices. After two years, I thought "I've done my time, now I'm done with P.E., and I can do something else. After all, we always complain about it, why not just quit now?" So I did, and then I had more time to slack off with my slacker friends (who were naturally better at school, so they could get by on slacking, more so than I could). Still, I graduated, and I got into some colleges. Success!

Then going into college, I had to pick a major, so I picked landscape architecture, not really knowing what it entailed. I stuck with that for four years, but in the fifth year (it was a 5 year program, with the final year being a major senior project), I lost my enthusiasm. I changed majors to City and Regional Planning, because I liked the intro course I had taken. I graduated a few years later, and landed a job with the county land use planning office. And thanks to my extended stay in college, I met the lady who would be my wife. Success!

Then we moved from California to New Mexico, only knowing that 1) we could stay with her parents while we found jobs, and 2) my wife was a highly qualified math teacher, so she'd have no trouble finding a job, which was very true (she applied to a job on a Sunday night, got called for an interview on Monday morning, and had the job by Thursday, only to get another interview offer for the following Tuesday -- the benefits of applying at a small school is that they can work faster than a larger school). A few months later, I landed a job with the Department of Transportation, which had just been able to hire again after a hiring freeze had lifted. Success!

In short: my decisions to act on a whim have generally played out well, allowing me to float along since at least high school. But the earliest random whim I can recall was wanting to play the bagpipes, which my mom, to her credit, investigated to find that it took years to just master the pieces, before you could play the entire instrument. I wasn't that dedicated to the weird sounding instrument, so I learned piano instead (after failing to learn to read sheet music while playing flute in 6th grade, where I faked it for a few weeks, but then I gave up the sham).

(The only thing I have persisted at was the application to be a college radio DJ, but once I was there, I was involved for over a decade, because playing weird music for other people is SO MUCH FUN!)
posted by filthy light thief at 10:45 AM on February 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

I will always remember this pithy takedown of myself as a child:

me: [trying to pick up my friend's sister's pet bunny]
her: "I don't know if [my name] can be trusted with living things?"
posted by atoxyl at 10:48 AM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

I was an early talker (around 9-10 mo) and an early reader, and my mom's favorite anecdotes generally revolve around those. I don't tend to find them representative, except for one:

Apparently, when I was around a year old and still being bathed in the sink, my dad was giving me a bath and realllllly let one rip. (He was a gassy man.) I responded by holding my nose so firmly and with such a look of disgust that he burst out laughing, and it was loud enough to bring my mom running. When she got to the door, she said "what happened?!" and I, from behind my plugged nose, shouted: "YOUR. HUSBAND. FARTED."

I'm a lot less hung up about farts now but I like to think I still carry myself with a hilarious level of indignation at all times.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:51 AM on February 14, 2018 [31 favorites]

In the fifth grade, I got in trouble for making fun of the third grade's class newspaper. It was on display on a bulletin board in the hallway. I was busted for pinning a sarcastic, satirical note to the display, calling the newspaper "third-rate, not third-grade!" among other things.

In my defense, it really wasn't a very good class newspaper.
posted by daisystomper at 10:51 AM on February 14, 2018 [34 favorites]

When I was about 6 I was at the mall with my mom. I was daydreaming and accidentally opened an emergency door. The alarm went off...and kept going off...and kept going off. Security showed up. To me as a six-year-old, it was like the SWAT team had arrived. My mother explained what happened to Security, and they all acted like I was the biggest moron on the planet. And then my mother dragged me out of the mall by my arm. I'm still scared of opening doors that even LOOK like they might have an alarm on them.
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:52 AM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

When I was in 4th or 5th grade, kids were going around asking everyone if they were a virgin, I remember it was still something I wasn't clear about and others weren't either, so those who did know were laughing at the answers. I came home and told my mother this story and she asked me what I said, my answer was I had said I was, because if it was good enough for the Virgin Mary, it was good enough for me.
posted by Carillon at 10:54 AM on February 14, 2018 [17 favorites]

I remember arguing to the death with my babysitter at age 5 that the "II" after WW or World War was not, in fact, a 2, but "i i" I know what a capital "I" looks like, dammit, don't pull my leg and try to tell me that's a number. How stupid do you think I am? I'm not even in kindergarten yet and I know how to read. I'm a damn GENIUS and you're lying to me like I'm a little kid!

Similar: I argued with my Dad in the car, because he was quizzing my Sis about numbers, and what number is halfway to one hundred? She answered with fifty, and I had to correct her, because halfway between 1 and 10 is 5. Halfway between 50 and 60 is 55, so if you go halfway from 1 to 100, it'll be between 50 and 60, and that gets you to 55, and it can't possibly be a number ending with a zero, and what kind of idiot do you take me for, and your laughing is just making me angrier.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:56 AM on February 14, 2018 [10 favorites]

When I was about 3, we lived in a house with a sliding glass door to the backyard that I couldn't open, so Mother would open it for me when I wanted to go in or out. I guess one day she had to open it too many times, because when my father came home he found me walking up and down in front of the door, saying over and over, "I can't make up my damn mind."
posted by JanetLand at 10:57 AM on February 14, 2018 [10 favorites]

Teaching my mother how to pick locks.
posted by tilde at 11:00 AM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

(1) I talked a friend into co-authoring an adventure novel in the vein of Famous Five, Nancy Drew, etc. in fifth grade. YAY, writer since forever and BOO, plagiarist at heart.

(2) She and I had a huge argument about what to name the adventuring kids. She wanted regular desi names, people in our class. I furiously resisted, because "We're writing a REAL book, and people in REAL books have [anglo-saxon] names!" BOO, my colonized mind.
posted by MiraK at 11:00 AM on February 14, 2018 [10 favorites]

I think the defining anecdote of my childhood is hanging around in the classroom (maybe early elementary school) after school, and being quiet enough that the teachers had forgotten that I was there. Suddenly (in my mind), the teachers turn to me and say "You didn't hear that, okay?" I nod in agreement, because I was extremely oblivious and prone to getting lost in my own thoughts as a child (I may still be this way).

I'm pretty sure they thought I was just playing along, but I really had no idea what they were talking about. I think I could have been bullied as a kid and not even noticed it.
posted by that girl at 11:01 AM on February 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

When I was 9 we moved to an old house out in the country, and while exploring the house I discovered there was an empty space behind the paneled walls (that fake wood 70's stuff) in the finished attic. So I got tools, wood, and some hinges from my dad's workshop and carefully crafted a small secret door in one of the attic corners, just big enough for us to squeeze through into the empty space. It opened inwards, and I made sure the opening carefully lined up with the lines on the paneling and coloured in the cuts so they blended in with the paneling. It even had a hidden latch. My sisters and I used that secret space as a hideout for years, lighting it up with candles that we filtched from the china cabinet. My parents didn't discover the secret door until after I moved out when they were doing work on the attic room.

Now that I am an adult with children of my own, the thought of kids playing in a tiny space, surrounded by 100-year old dry wood, lit up by candles stuck on the wooden floor with melted wax terrifies me!
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:03 AM on February 14, 2018 [18 favorites]

Capt. Renault wait, what? That's hilarious but I don't even understand why!
posted by MiraK at 11:04 AM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

My mom left me and my twin brother in the car while she ran into Sears to grab something. My brother crawled up into the front, put the car in neutral, and it promptly rolled across the parking lot into a light pole. When they found us, he was sitting in the front laughing and I was crying in the back seat.

Says a lot about both of us, actually.
posted by 40 Watt at 11:05 AM on February 14, 2018 [11 favorites]

Halfway between 50 and 60 is 55, so if you go halfway from 1 to 100, it'll be between 50 and 60, and that gets you to 55, and it can't possibly be a number ending with a zero, and what kind of idiot do you take me for,

You weren't wrong, though - halfway between 1 and 100 is 50.5 which totally doesn't end with zero. Of course he meant zero and one hundred, but that isn't what he said now is it?
posted by turkeybrain at 11:05 AM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

Oh, I saw this on Ursula Vernon's Twitter.

Thinking about it, there are funny little stories from my childhood, but I'm not sure any of them really reflect current me, who is too boring and tired to embody the spirit of an amusing childhood anecdote.

Here's the nearest one, I guess: sometime in elementary school, (some of) the kids separated themselves into feuding factions on the playground, boys vs. girls. I can't even remember what the feud was about or how the "warfare" was being carried out, but at any rate, I decided to set myself up as a third-party go-between/n-tuple agent. In retrospect...
posted by inconstant at 11:07 AM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

At about 12, I finally succeeded in getting my parents to take us to midnight mass on Christmas Eve. During one of the standing up times, I was nodding off to sleep. My sister kept elbowing me to keep me awake, but eventually I lost the battle and dropped in place like a puppet with its strings cut. I woke when my knee hit the pew in front of me with a an ow and a loud BANG. I quickly straightened up as the whole church turned to look at us, only to see my sister cracking up next to a fully awake and composed me.
posted by BeeDo at 11:13 AM on February 14, 2018

when i was like 5 i ate a tiny little ant specifically to make my friend peter cry
posted by poffin boffin at 11:14 AM on February 14, 2018 [20 favorites]

The idea that I could only read the children's books offended me.

I was never prevented from reading books outside my range, but I did get a lot of patronizing about it. I read a lot of stuff from the Classics rack, books that were pretty advanced for my age. And I churned through them -- Gulliver's Travels, Huck Finn, Dickens, 1984... Anyway, one day, I think I was nine, I figured I needed a challenge, and I took out the thickest book I could find in the classics section: War and Peace. I checked it out, and the lady behind the counter gave me this condescending smile. Well, I'd show her! I took it home, and started reading, and... it was tough going. Very tough. My problem was that I couldn't keep track of all the names. Each character had, like, three different names, and at some point I just got lost. So the next week I bring the book back, and the same counter lady had that same fucking smile, and cutely asked wanted to know how it went. "Well, I only got three hundred pages in before I had to quit. I couldn't keep track of all the different names. How far did you get?" Smile. Erased.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:15 AM on February 14, 2018 [38 favorites]

1) In the third grade, during an overnight at a new friend's house, I was obviously coming down with some kind of illness but adamantly denied anything was wrong and insisted I just had a cold. I was shy and didn't want to inconvenience anyone or be a bother and have to have my parents come get me, even though they would have been 100% fine doing so. And the friend's mom was a frickin' pediatrician, for crying out loud, plus my friend regularly left sleepovers at the drop of a hat due to homesickness, hypoglycemia, whatever, so I'm really not sure why I thought I had to tough it out. I miserably soldiered through crafts and a feverish night and sledding the next day, then gratefully collapsed in my bed as soon as my dad brought me home. I had a roaring case of strep throat and was out of school for several days.

I am still pretty sure my last words will be some variation of "No, no, I'll be fine."

2) In high school I wrote an anonymous want ad seeking a prom date and posted it on the theater & speech board.
No one replied. Finally I caved and asked a friend. We had a good time.

I remind myself of this anecdote to bring me down a peg whenever I am feeling a little too hip.
posted by castlebravo at 11:16 AM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

Like the previous thread about what's unusual about your specific body, this seems like a great way to harvest information about you to which very few others are currently privy.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:17 AM on February 14, 2018

1) I asked if my stepfather's grandmother was his dad's first wife. Because they shared a last name, and everyone in MY family had been divorced and remarried. (And the difference between 75 and 55 was lost on me at ~8)

2) I beat up a kid at 'camp' in 5th grade for not believing the story of Noah's Ark.
posted by DigDoug at 11:17 AM on February 14, 2018

One time my dad was singing a George Jones song in the car with me, when I was probably 2 or 3. He got to a certain point in the song and I stopped him and said "that's not how the song goes." And he said "oh, well, he sings it his way, and I'm singing it my way." And, totally innocently, I said "oh, your way is wrong."

It took me a really long time to accept that you don't always have to sing something note for note the way it is on the album.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:18 AM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

Okay, one more that's more telling (I don't beat around the bush, for anyone).
My first exam at a new pediatrician's office - I'm about 3-ish, and very verbal.
I'd never had an exam like this one, where the doc had me lie down on the exam table and pushed and prodded (in addition to listening to my heart/lungs while I was sitting up). The nurse was in the room with us.
After the exam they came out of the room nearly about to burst from holding back laughter. As he was finishing up, I had asked "Do you want to see my vagina too?"
The doc and nurse asked my mother where on *earth* I had learned the appropriate word for my body part, and clearly thought it was hilarious at some level.
posted by dbmcd at 11:18 AM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

My family is not particularly religious, but is very literary, and the house was full of books of stories and mythologies. I couldn't quite believe they were true, but I really really WANTED to, and clearly some of my elderly relatives had rituals and prayers that they believed in. Some of these involved food/offerings. So I would try and "test" whether this was all real by creating my own offerings and prayers and wishes. But I was 7, so I could only get my hands on silk flowers and plastic food for the gods/fairies/demons etc. And of course nothing happened, and no wishes came true. And I spent months if not years grappling with whether or not I had proved anything, since I hadn't really done the whole process right, and clearly supernatural beings (or fairies) would realize my offerings were artificial, and the ritual was wrong. BUT if these beings were really all knowing and/or magical, then they should have also known that my intent was as meaningful, and that I was limited by my resources, right? It was an impossible puzzle that gnawed on me.

By the way, I grew up into being a science professor who does experimental research at a major university.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 11:22 AM on February 14, 2018 [16 favorites]

When I was 5 I asked my mom how the baby inside her friend was going to get out. My mom explained and I was incredulous. At the end of the conversation she told me that I should not share my new babies-come-out-of-vaginas information with my friends at school because their parent would want to tell them.

I agreed then added under my breath, "Yeah. Plus, you might be wrong."
posted by Saminal at 11:34 AM on February 14, 2018 [48 favorites]

I love these!

As a kid and a teen, I used to ride my horse to my best friend's house and ask her for American cheese. My own parents were strict about my cheese intake - and no American was allowed - because if left to my own devices it would have been out of control. My friend would give me some cheese and we would chat. Then I would continue my trail ride. Sounds lovely. I wish I could do it again.
posted by Emmy Rae at 11:36 AM on February 14, 2018 [29 favorites]

> I used to ride my horse to my best friend's house and ask her for American cheese.

... This may be just about the greatest thing I have ever read.

I am loving this thread!
posted by MiraK at 11:38 AM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

I was really looking forward to kindergarten. My reading skills were very rudimentary. I'd been very frustrated because I couldn't follow the story in our Classic's Illustrated Comics version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. (WHAT was Puck doing, squeezing those flowers into someone's eyes?) So while I was not happy about not staying home with my mom, I was bribed into accepting the challenge of school because "you'll learn how to read!" What? Ok, I am IN!

Day I, and the room is filled with crying children. Except for me. I look around at the toys and posters, and grab my (weeping) friend's hand. "C'mon, Mickey! Let's go play!" (My mother later told me she'd felt terrible, because she was the only mom whose kid wasn't trying to cling to her.)

End of the day, all the other kids have adapted and are excited and happy to see their parents. Except me. I'm BAWLING. My poor mother couldn't get an explanation out of me until we got home.

I had been at school. ALL DAY. And I still had not learned how to read.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 11:39 AM on February 14, 2018 [39 favorites]

I was kind of obsessed with those "50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save The Earth" books. One was to always cut up coke can plastic rings so wildlife didn't get stuck in them. Imagine my face when I saw a whole STACK of them in the art room! I enlisted a few other children and we all cut them apart. Then a counselor took me aside and said that they were saving all of them for a craft project and we had just ruined that.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:41 AM on February 14, 2018 [11 favorites]

When I was in Grade 4 and 5, I used to stand in front of the class for every show and tell and tell everyone allllll about my budgies. I wasn't the type of kid that talked a lot, but once we got a pair of budgies, there was no shutting up about the budgies :D
posted by Calzephyr at 11:49 AM on February 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

I was the first kid in third grade to get braces, and I didn’t tell anyone I was getting them ahead of time. My first day with them I came to school, played at recess, and went about my day without ever opening my mouth enough to show them but also acting normal. When show and tell happened I went to the front of the room, stood silently for a moment, then broke into a huge braces exposing grin. My classmates went BANANAS.
posted by lepus at 11:55 AM on February 14, 2018 [18 favorites]

The doc and nurse asked my mother where on *earth* I had learned the appropriate word for my body part, and clearly thought it was hilarious at some level.

Yeah my parents both have biomedical backgrounds so there weren't a lot of cutesy names for body parts or functions. But I remember being enamored of the word "scrotum" because while it might be the "right" technical word it's also just a funny word.
posted by atoxyl at 11:57 AM on February 14, 2018

In kindergarten, I taught myself to ride a bike by myself, while everyone else was riding the tricycles. It was hard, and it took a while, but I didn't give up, and eventually I learned. Impressive, huh?

But: There were only a few tricycles. To get one, you had to race everyone else from the door to the playground, then push your way into the shed. I would have liked to ride the tricycles, but I didn't run faster than the other kids and definitely didn't want to push. So I got the leftovers: the bike that no one else wanted.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:57 AM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

When I was in 1st or 2nd grade, after the Pledge of Allegiance the class would sing a "patriotic song" - My Country Tis Of Thee, Yankee Doodle, Grand Old Flag, etc. (They were at least wise enough not to make first graders attempt The Star Spangled Banner). As the year went on, I noticed that pretty much everybody except me was singing off key - some a little, some a lot. I began somehow to think that I was being stuck-up and show-offy by singing on key, so I spent the rest of the year singing a tad off key on purpose.

Some people would call this an anecdote about the pressure to dumb yourself down and hide your skills in order to fit in. As someone who has later enjoyed making music in groups with people of all skill levels, I prefer to think of it as listening to the group and blending with it, to serve the sound as a whole. My first grade class wasn't a bunch of kids with tin ears, we were boldly experimenting with microtonality!
posted by Daily Alice at 11:59 AM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

> Anyway, one day, I think I was nine, I figured I needed a challenge, and I took out the thickest book I could find in the classics section: War and Peace.

I did the same thing, at probably the same age, except mine was a copy my grandmother had on her bookshelf. I didn't get any smug looks, but I put it back in place in short order.
posted by borkencode at 12:03 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was the first kid in third grade to get braces, and I didn’t tell anyone I was getting them ahead of time.

I went on math strike until I could be in the math group with my friends. I won and I regret it to this day.

Together these remind me - and this one actually says a lot about my personality - I had orthodontics for a while as a kid. Like headgear, which I hated. All of it was supposed to be in preparation for getting braces in my teens. And then when it came time for that, I just refused, partly because I was sick of all that, but I also remember distinctly being concerned that I wouldn't be able to eat candy.

And now my teeth are kinda fucked up.
posted by atoxyl at 12:05 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

When I started learning French at age 11, I practiced speaking it with my fluffy orange tabby cat, Morris (yes, I had named him). I would tell Morris all my most secret stories, in French, sharing things with him that no one else ever heard.

To this day I have an easier time expressing complex emotional situations in French than in English.

Still speak French with my cats. Except for a few nicknames. Dearheart, sweety-pie, fluffy-fluff, floof, these are good words.
posted by fraula at 12:07 PM on February 14, 2018 [11 favorites]

I got in trouble in 2nd grade because during math class I was caught reading from my English/language class book. I had the more interesting book propped inside the math book.

I got sent to the principal for that, which (looking back) seems like rather an extreme reaction.

But my reading has always been more valuable than my math, at any rate.
posted by suelac at 12:13 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh I don't know -- maybe when I was 5 and tried to to kill the next door neighbor kid and he spent a week in the hospital, much of it in a coma; or at six when I accidentally set fire to our house and burned away most of the back wall of the back porch; or also when I was 6 and punched my 12 year old sister in the face one day when she was babysitting me, knocking her cold and paralyzing her jaw so that it had to be wired shut for a month; or in 3rd grade when I got into a knock down drag out fight right in the classroom with the only kid in that year who was bigger than me, overturning several desks and sending him to the hospital and me into suspension; or during the summer between 5th and 6th grade when I convinced an uncle of a friend to buy some illegal cherry bombs for me from a stand which wouldn't sell them to little kids, and I was down by the river duct-taping them to rocks, lighting the fuse and throwing them because they were too light to throw very far without the extra weight, and I threw one into a huge 8 foot tall metal culvert in order to hear the cool whizzing sound after the explosion, and then a pile of rubbish in the bottom of the culvert erupted and it turned out some homeless guy had been sleeping there. He chased me for about a block before collapsing. I hope to hell I didn't blow out his eardrums.

With different parents God knows what might have happened to me; kids were lobotomized for a lot less than I did back then. Looking back on all that as a young adult, I didn't appreciate the enormous and unrepayable debt I owed my parents (and my sister!), and I deeply regret that I didn't even try to make it up to them.
posted by jamjam at 12:15 PM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]

In third grade, I developed a crush on a girl in my class. Every morning all the students stood to recite the pledge of allegiance, and the room's desks were arranged such that she and I faced each other from halfway across the room. I ruminated for a while and decided that I'd express my fondness by winking at her as we faced during the pledge of allegiance. There were a few mornings of half-flinching non-winks, but eventually I mounted the courage to look right at her and I full on winked.

Right away I started rubbing my eye like I had something in it and continued to make a show of having something in my eye. I never attempted to express my affection again.
posted by cyclopticgaze at 12:22 PM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

I grew up in the US and went to school there until grade 3. I refused to say the pledge of allegiance right from the start. I would stand up because I had to, but they couldn't force me to put my hand over my heart or recite the pledge. It just seemed wrong to me to be told to swear allegiance to something like that, even at age 5. I was so glad when we moved to Canada because there was nothing like that.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:25 PM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

I guess the only one that really DEFINES me is the time I wasn't paying attention in third grade because I was so engrossed in the book I [thought I] was reading on the sly, only to look up because I guess subconsciously I noticed how quiet it was, and found the whole class was staring at me, then everyone laughed when I noticed. Apparently they had been looking at me for quite a while before I looked up.

The next year something similar happened, again I was lost in a book when the whole class left to go to gym. Looked up to a completely empty room.

My name is rabbitrabbit and I am a librarian who has been diagnosed with ADD.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:25 PM on February 14, 2018 [33 favorites]

When I was in fourth grade, some of the kids in class were making jokes about gay people, and I said "well, you wouldn't say those to my gay cousin!" which I guess I thought was some great comeback (I do have a gay cousin, and he's one of my favorite people on earth). It worked, they stopped being mean about gay people, and I was super proud that I stood up for gays! I was really excited to tell my family about it, and I told my dad and sister when we were all in the car together. My sister just snorted and said "you didn't say that!" and I just hung my head and said "no, I didn't." :(

That was the same year I decided to stop saying the Pledge of Allegiance, on principle. At first I was just excited that I didn't actually have to do it, but as I got older I started getting more and more creeped out by the idea of it. In 9th grade, my friend confronted me over it on the first day of school, saying "my grandfather and my ancestors fought for that flag!" and in my total know-it-all voice I said "well, maybe they fought so I wouldn't be forced to say a loyalty oath every morning!" We stopped being friends. Later that year, he confronted me in front of the whole class when I said I was a communist. "Oh yeah, name one thing about communism!" I was going to say "redistribution of wealth" but I got embarrassed and didn't say anything. He said "I guess it's just a phase, then" and turned his back on me. :(
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:25 PM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

My dad was wealthy and famous; my mother a ferocious social-climbing Tiger Mom type. They attended charity ball type events in The City most nights, and one evening kissing goodnight, I asked Mom "Does 'black tie' just mean you can wear a suit, as long as you wear a black tie?"

I was maybe eight. She sneered / laughed and said, pityingly "My, you really are harmless, aren't you?"

I had been reading up intensively on Buddhist philosophy at the time, so my biggest confusion was, why on earth would she think being Harmless was a bad thing?
posted by goinWhereTheClimateSuitsMyClothes at 12:27 PM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]

As a small child I was afraid of my sister, who was six years older. I thought of her as a stern, humorless authoritarian in the vein of, say, our mother. The old family farmhouse was large and had four whole doors leading to the outside, including in the parental bedroom, which was also large enough that one end of it was a play space where the cardboard box was kept containing the old mix of alphabet blocks, Lego pieces and leftover plastic soldiers and farm animals. Sister and I built elaborate farms, schoolhouses, towns, and so forth.

One day there was a project in there we hadn’t finished, and my sister instructed me not to touch it while she was at school (placing my age at around four). Of course, I did play with it and move some things around, and as the day went on my sense of dread increased. When that school bus dropped them off, she would Find Out What I’d Done. There was only one thing to do.

I locked the door of my parents’ bedroom from the inside. Then I exited the house through their outside door and locked that one behind me, too. I walked around the house, came back in through another door, and entered my new life as a criminal mastermind, which lasted about ten minutes.

Me: full of dread and anxiety over fairly innocent misdeeds, and not particularly close to family. :-D
posted by Occula at 12:28 PM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

My mother found me at 4 years old throwing glass coke bottles in the street and when she asked me why I was doing this I told her that I just wanted to see what would happen. Two years later the same thing happened in our kitchen with a bunch of eggs. I just wanted to see what would happen!
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:41 PM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

When I was 9, I begged my mother all summer to teach our Sunday School class at church. She finally agreed to do it, and on the first Sunday, I announced to the class that I didn't believe in God.

This in no way dampened my enthusiasm for Sunday School, mind you. Just horrified my mother.
posted by BrashTech at 12:54 PM on February 14, 2018 [10 favorites]

By the time I was a pre-teen my parents had discovered that traditional punishments like spankings and groundings did little to avert my willful behaviour. A neighbor suggested taking away phone time, but I was too young at the time to be very into boys and endless phone conversations. Finally, one fateful summer, my father settled on the problem. Whatever punishment they delivered, I would just go to my room and read, therefore any further infractions would result in a loss of reading privileges.

I scoffed at the idea that they would actually take away my books until I did something stupid like lying about cleaning my room and got in trouble. My father promptly took away every book I had and put them in his closet. I was not allowed to read at all for the rest of the summer. It was so bad that he took away the cereal boxes I tried to read at breakfast. All I was allowed to do was housework and drawing for fun.

I can still remember begging to go visit my grandmother for the day and spend time with her so that I could sit in her living room and read old Reader's Digests and Southern Living magazines.

It was the most hellish two weeks of my life and I did everything in my power to get not get punished that way ever again.
posted by teleri025 at 12:56 PM on February 14, 2018 [10 favorites]

Some time in second grade, I was stressed out in math class and decided that math was stupid. Instead of math, I persuaded every kid in math class to put on an impromptu production of Peter Rabbit, for some reason. But, alas, I locked myself in the bathroom during the second half of the production in an artistic pique because it wasn't PERFECT. My math teacher sent a sternly-worded letter home to my parents, saying that their daughter took over her class, and demanding that she give it back. That letter is the best thing about my whole academic life.

In sixth grade, I got sent to the principal's office for organizing a uniform code strike because the Catholic school I went to made girls wear sweaters over our see-through uniform shirts in stifling hot un-air conditioned classrooms. Also, we couldn't wear pants unless it was very cold out. The injustice still makes me angry every time I think about it. It was worth the detention AND them calling my mom to come get me.
posted by answergrape at 12:59 PM on February 14, 2018 [11 favorites]

I got in trouble in 2nd grade because during math class I was caught reading from my English/language class book. I had the more interesting book propped inside the math book.

I kept reading all the way through a quiz on the multiples of... I dunno, 9? I mean, I didn't even notice it was happening around me, and I guess the teacher thought I would learn a lesson from the experience if she didn't clue me in. Thus I was a week behind in getting the trinket that we were supposed to get to commemorate learning the multiplication tables, which was really upsetting to me at the time.
posted by atoxyl at 1:00 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

(because I did know the multiples of 9, goddamnit)

The next year something similar happened, again I was lost in a book when the whole class left to go to gym. Looked up to a completely empty room.

I see I'm not alone at all here.
posted by atoxyl at 1:08 PM on February 14, 2018

Whatever punishment they delivered, I would just go to my room and read, therefore any further infractions would result in a loss of reading privileges.

My parents would punish me the same way, only they would exile me to the basement, where there weren't any books. Only -- that's where they kept all the board games. It wasn't too long before I read and memorized all the answers on all the cards in the original Trivial Pursuit. And then I did the same for the Children's Edition (the one that Mom played). From then on, I was simply unbeatable, and no-one ever played Trivial Pursuit in our house ever again.

After going through all the Trivial Pursuits, I discovered Dad's porn stash in the basement, and got a different kind of education.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:10 PM on February 14, 2018 [15 favorites]

I discovered Dad's porn stash in the basement

How do you know it was Dad's?
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:29 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I used my position as Copy Editor on the middle school student newspaper (circa 2000) to quietly start an underground newsletter, care of the offical paper's computer room. The contributors were myself and three other friends, and it published anonymous exposés of school-related events & policies we thought were bullshit and wanted to speak out on.

Our eye-witness reporting was largely protected by the anonymity that being in a class of 30+ students grants you. Example of one story: one of my teachers kicked a kid out of class for wearing a pink feather boa for fun, and said a gay slur at them as they walked on their way to the Principal's office. I wrote up a piece about it that recounted the events, name-and-shamed the teacher involved in the story, and expressed outrage that someone like that was allowed to teach in a public school. Most of the stories were that, with some opinion pieces about later school start times or some such.

We successfully got three issues out and distributed before I was caught printing drafts in Journalism class and very nearly expelled.
posted by Snacks at 1:39 PM on February 14, 2018 [10 favorites]

My mom took preschool-age me out to play catch in the yard, thinking I needed some work on my hand-eye coordination. I gamely played along for a few minutes, then asked her, "Mommy, what's the point of this?" And then I didn't have to play catch anymore.
posted by potrzebie at 1:53 PM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

When I was in 6th grade, our middle school was really overcrowded. It got so crowded between classes that kids were literally shoulder-to-shoulder in the narrow hallways. I was short and otherwise small for my age, and one morning I got caught in a tide of human traffic and was carried down the hallway, past the classroom I was trying to get to. At some point in my involuntary journey, someone stepped on the back of my right shoe and it came off.

When the crowd thinned out and I could actually walk again, I set about looking for my shoe. It was gone. Vanished. The bell rang. I was officially late for class, still in the hallway, looking for my shoe.

I'd never been late for class before and was afraid I'd get in trouble, also I was only wearing one shoe, so I knocked on the door my my classroom, waved to my teacher, and told her I needed her help. She and I spent some more time looking for my shoe. With teacherly authority, she opened some nearby lockers, but no shoe. She took me to the principal's office, where the lost and found was kept, to see if someone had turned my shoe in. They had plenty of shoes, by gum, but none of them matched the one I was still wearing.

She finally determined that she'd done all she could for me, and she took me back to class.

I spent the rest of the day hobbling around with a fake limp. People would say "Hey, where's your shoe?" I'd tell them that I hurt my ankle in P.E. This little lie got me through my half-shod day, and by the end of the day people were even offering to carry my books. Not just that, but I was a bus-rider. When the bus got to my stop, one of the 8th-grade kids insisted on carrying me down the bus stairs so I didn't have to hop down on one foot.

I thanked him and limped off. When the bus was out of sight, I abandoned the limp and walked the 1/4 mile (on a gravel road) home.

My mom was both disgusted at my one very dirty sock, and also disbelieving of the story of how I lost my shoe -- which is 100% true. I swear it is!

She still brings it up occasionally. "Remember that day when you lost one shoe?" "Yeah, mom, I remember. The hall was really, really crowded." She shakes her head. "I still don't understand how someone can lose one shoe."

And that story not only sums up my childhood, but is also a pretty good allegory for the rest of my life.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:54 PM on February 14, 2018 [13 favorites]

Three short stories that describe hanov3r:

Story the first: I got demerits in kindergarten because I would sit next to the teacher when she was reading to us and correct her when she skipped words or paraphrased.

Story the second: the kindergarten teacher, apparently fed up with me correcting her reading, recommended that I be bumped to first grade mid-year. My first day in first grade, I had (FOR WHAT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS REASONS) not done the assigned homework, and I was forced to miss my first-day-of-first-grade recess to do it, all while VOCIFEROUSLY complaining about the unfairness

Story the third: At the age of 6, I had to have my parents reassure me that it really was OK that I wanted to read the Hardy Boys books, even though they CLEARLY said, on the back, "for boys 10 to 14".
posted by hanov3r at 2:04 PM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

I was six and remember a spider that lived outside my window. Orange body, green legs. Watched her build a web all summer, then one day there's a big egg in it. The egg hatched and a hundred baby spiders came out... and they ate her.
posted by roue at 2:20 PM on February 14, 2018 [17 favorites]

I was six and remember a spider that lived outside my window. Orange body, green legs. Watched her build a web all summer, then one day there's a big egg in it. The egg hatched and a hundred baby spiders came out... and they ate her.

You've seen things we people wouldn't believe.
posted by lagomorphius at 2:25 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

At 13 I was a docent at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, I mostly did tours and also demos for the groups of high schoolers on field trips. I was homeschooled and lived two hours from Seattle and had to take 4 separate public transportation things to get there. My cohort was entirely retired Boeing engineers. They were just as "why are you doing this?" as the high schoolers were. I just wanted to be around airplanes and had lots of free time, no friends during school hours, and no money.

My fondest memory of that was eating my sack lunch in the grass by the Stratojet. When the breeze came from the north all the jets would land so that touch down, with its screech sound and cloud of tire smoke would be right in front of me. Often they were the brand new undelivered 737s, cool stuff.

My grown-up life now has nothing to do with aviation or museums, but I am still passionate about eating lunch while staring at things. I retained everything though and am looking forward to springing my Flight Museum tour skills on my kids quite soon.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 2:25 PM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]

In middle school I was reading so voraciously that I'd check a book out of the school library in the morning, read it during the day, and turn it back in after school. But then I discovered movie novelizations, and gobbled up those for the movies I wasn't allowed to see. (Witness is one I remember well. Oh, I had such a crush on '80s Harrison Ford.)

So I was in English class, bored while the rest of class read out loud, and took out my copy of the day's book, the novelization of Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom. And who should come into class, unnoticed by me because I was having adventures with Indy, but our vice-principal. He listened to us read for a while, then came to my desk, at the edge of the room, and turned back the cover of our English book to see what I was actually reading.

He did not tell on me.

I went on reading. I suspect he understood why my book was so much more absorbing than whatever anthologized story I'd already finished.
posted by misslucyjane at 2:26 PM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

After sitting in silence and watching an exceedingly long TV commercial for McDonald's at age 2: "Well. THAT wasn't necessary."

Called the color periwinkle "Perrier-winkle" and got really annoyed when people laughed.

In 5th grade, my teacher picked up the book I was reading and said, "Do your parents know you're reading this?" To which I snottily said, "Of course." Teacher said, "Hmm." He quizzed me on the meaning of words in the book and I was able to define them all in a sassy manner. The book was Exodus by Leon Uris...not exactly kid-friendly.

But perhaps my favorite: When I was being bullied at age 15 or so, I went through a 2-3 week period where I carried a giant safety pin around with me (from my cool punk clothing of course) and I would stalk through the halls following around the Worst Bully with the half-baked plan to get really close to him and then jam the open safety pin deeply into the back of his stupid neck. I never had the courage to do it, but the fantasizing about it really helped.

And a bonus one from slightly later than childhood but barely, that really sums it up: when I turned 20 my sister and I had a themed party we called "Childhood is Dead" where we had a cake shaped and frosted like a cute little goth girlchild and we sliced it open and it was red on the inside. We were so cool.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 2:28 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

At my first dance in middle school, I was so excited about music and dancing that I danced everywhere and with everything including the support pillars in the cafeteria. I was teased so mercilessly about it the next day at school that I didn't dance again at a school dance unless I was forced to by my date. It took me thirty years to get back to "dance like nobody is watching you," but damnit I'm back there now.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:29 PM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

1: On my way to pre-school, my parents heard me frantically whispering in the backseat. "xyzzy, whatcha doing back there?" "Practicing my numbers and letters." "Why?" "So they don't kick me out for being dumb."

2: On the first day of kindergarten, I failed to correctly round off the corners of the black squares of construction paper to create the wheels of the yellow bus that went round-and-round, instead slowly whittling my squares down to paper bits. I burst into tears and had to be convinced by my teacher, Mrs. Wager, that I wouldn't be held back from going to first grade.

3: In fifth grade I got in trouble for surreptitiously reading The Scarlet Letter instead of watching the Challenger launch. My teacher was quickly distracted by other matters, though, so I didn't have to eat lunch with her instead of the class.

There you have it. Nerdy, socially anxious, socially isolated, perfectionistic. Still as true at 42 as it was when I was 4.
posted by xyzzy at 2:35 PM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

2: On the first day of kindergarten, I failed to correctly round off the corners of the black squares of construction paper to create the wheels of the yellow bus that went round-and-round, instead slowly whittling my squares down to paper bits. I burst into tears and had to convinced by my teacher, Mrs. Wager, that I wouldn't be held back from going to first grade.

OMG I did the exact opposite thing in kindergarten! We were supposed to make a snowman and I barely cut off any corners so they were basically still squares. My teacher told me to cut more off and I burst into tears and had to sit in the crying area (basically where you recovered from emotional moments) until I could pull myself together.
posted by Emmy Rae at 2:38 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

There was point where I was unsure if Santa was real or not, so I decided that when I grew up and had kids, I would buy them Christmas presents "from Santa" and wake up early on Christmas morning to check if Santa had left them anything or not. If he had, great, and if he had not, I had backups.
posted by soelo at 2:44 PM on February 14, 2018 [23 favorites]

When I was three or four I kept switching back and forth between my right and left hands whenever I ate, wrote, used scissors, etc. It drove my mother bonkers, and she finally said, "Pick one hand to use and stick with it!" My parents were both right-handed, so just to be contrary I decided to be left-handed. Story of my life.

Are teachers better at appreciating intelligence in children now than they were in, say, the 1960s and 1970s? I kept getting yelled at for reading books in the wrong section of the library, too. Also for reading ahead because I liked the book so much I had to find out what happened next. What was up with that?
posted by filthy_prescriptivist at 2:46 PM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

When I was in daycare at the age of 4, I stopped talking. Only at school. It was linked to my younger sister being in the hospital for asthma treatment, thusly leaving me with less attention from my parents. My mom had a psychologist come observe me at daycare, and in her notes she wrote, “this is the most stubborn child I have ever seen.”

That’s meeee!
posted by sucre at 3:21 PM on February 14, 2018 [17 favorites]

In second grade I started a petition accusing the gym teacher of sexism because he wouldn't let girls play pitcher, first base, third base, or catcher, and got all the second-grade girls to sign it, and presented it to the principal with our demands. Not that I wanted to play any of those positions, or was any good at sports in general, but it was systematic unfairness and I was incensed and I was going to CORRECT THE INJUSTICE.

I was a shy child but when I thought something was unfair, I would not shut up about it, and I never saw any reason I shouldn't be heard because I was, you know, SEVEN, and I never thought I would lose because as soon as I explained how it was unfair OBVIOUSLY people would fix it because OBVIOUSLY they were as interested in fairness as I was. These turn out to be remarkably stable character traits. Like, I could not manage to purchase candy at the variety store by myself until I was like 12 because I so dreaded interacting with the clerk, but presented with something UNFAIR I was badgering the popular girls to sign my petition and marching into the principal's office to inform him what he was going to fix.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:22 PM on February 14, 2018 [23 favorites]

Whatever punishment they delivered, I would just go to my room and read, therefore any further infractions would result in a loss of reading privileges. I scoffed at the idea that they would actually take away my books until I did something stupid like lying about cleaning my room and got in trouble. My father promptly took away every book I had and put them in his closet. I was not allowed to read at all for the rest of the summer.

My parents did this regularly; I have not once in my life been grounded from going out or seeing friends because my parents knew I would gladly just go and read (in fact, going out would be more of a punishment). They learning pretty early to just ground me from reading. However, they either were not committed or not smart enough to physically remove all the books (it didn't help that our family room had an entire wall that was floor-to-ceiling bookcases). Which meant I would sneak books into my room and read them at night by moonlight, and that is probably why I have such abysmal eye sight.
posted by brook horse at 3:22 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

the crying area (basically where you recovered from emotional moments)

i can't decide if this very concept is hilarious, horrifying, a little of both, or the greatest idea known to humanity.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:40 PM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]

5th grade I came down with a fever during day, and when it was clear I was going to be sent to the nurse's when she came in and then home, my teacher told me to go back and rest in the reading corner and maybe find something on the shelf to read and take home to finish. H.P. Lovecraft's "Dreams In the Witch House."
posted by lagomorphius at 3:40 PM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

My husband always tells the story about how he was on a child seat behind his mother on a bicycle and she said "Don't put you toes near the spokes - you'll get hurt." And, not having ever considered this before, he decided to test and see if it was true. It was.

He is now a scientist.
posted by lollusc at 3:56 PM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

I want to say I was 5? Had just turned 5, I think. It was about a year after I was moved in with my mid-20s-something aunt, but before she got "saved" and her mental illness began manifesting. Anyway, one night I was up way past my bedtime because we went to see Eddie Kendricks at the then-brand new Performing Arts Center. The R&B group Tavares opened for him. From the stage, the lead singer saw me (we were in the front row because Auntie was president of the local chapter of the Eddie Kendricks fan club. She couldn't get a sitter, so there we were! Her son was asleep).

Security carried me up and stood me next to him while the audience "AWWWW!"-ed. I remember the lights overhead were very red and hot and bright. I remember the dress I wore. It was a polyester A-line thing, navy blue, and across the chest area was a band of white fabric. In the center of that white band was a sewn-on applique of a fruit.

My conversation with the singer, who I now know was Antone (Chubby) Tavares, was the usual "interacting with a cute little kid" banter; he asked me my name, if I was in school. and how old I was, and why was I up so late? Ha-ha-ha. Then he said, "And isn't that a cute orange on your dress!" I was told later that I looked at him and then at the audience like, "Who is this dope?!" What I replied was, "That's not an orange, you dummy, that's an apple!"

I will never forget the look and the head move he gave to the security guard as 8,000 people burst into laughter, but he put his show face back on immediately. I was back in my seat post-haste. My cousin was still asleep. My aunt was double face-palming, but I wasn't embarrassed in the least. I thought I was the funniest female since Geraldine. I actually stayed awake for the entire show, including Kendricks, and spent most of it standing on the stuffed seat dancing.

And that was the first concert I ever went to. And am very much still a smart-ass, with no airs around celebrities.
posted by droplet at 4:17 PM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

One day in kindergarten we were doing some kind of project that involved writing out our names on a piece of paper with white elmer's glue (the kind that came in a bottle with an orange tip, you could squeeze it out like a line of icing) and then sprinkling glitter over the letters. Somehow I thought we, as five year olds, were supposed to do the glue-writing ourselves. My memory of this is hazy but I want to blame my seatmate, who told me to just go ahead because the glue was right there. The teacher had to stop me mid letter, scrape it all off the paper and do it over. I remember being mad, because I thought I had done a pretty good job.

I am still bad at following instructions.
posted by janepanic at 4:21 PM on February 14, 2018

3 years old, my mother chatting with the other mother next door. I grab her slightly younger child and my sand pail, and head off down the road. It's a decent walk and we have to cross a few streets as we head for the butcher's store. I walk there with my mother frequently, because she's a single mom, in Australia, early 70's, no fridge in the house, just a cooler.

When we finally make it to the butcher's I put my pail up on the counter and announce to the butcher "I've come for the meat." I refuse to back down until he gives me a hotdog. Then I sit down happily and wait while he tries to hunt down our parents.

Like my mum, I get shit done.
posted by Cuke at 4:22 PM on February 14, 2018 [8 favorites]

It's a tossup between these two:

1) In first grade I attended a private school run by the local branch of the Church of the Nazarene. We'd just moved to the state and one of my grandma's new friends said her church had the best school in the area... anyway. At the end of first grade the school asked my grandmother to find a different school for me the next year. I was too "disruptive" to the educational process for other children, because I would do things like read the scientifically accurate books about dinosaurs in my classroom library and then in weekly chapel when the dude running the show would ask if anyone had questions, I'd be like "YEAH, can we talk about the dinosaurs? Were Adam and Eve cool with them? Why weren't they on the ark? Where do they fit in?"


2) Long story short, I threw up on Bob Hope's shoes in an airport.
posted by palomar at 4:35 PM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

Oh, wait. Maybe it's anecdote number three, the time I didn't want to take ballet classes anymore so I wedged my three-year-old skull betwixt barre and wall and screamed bloody murder until someone came and took the barre off the wall and freed me.

Or maybe I'm a combo of all of them. Fuck, no wonder I'm single.
posted by palomar at 4:37 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Hm. Talk about myself? Sure.

- In the fifth grade, I stepped on something sharp. (Not my first rodeo: I'd had nails through both feet by this point in my life, and so my tetanus shot was already up to date.) We were dirt poor, couldn't afford a doctor. My mom tried fishing it out with tweezers and retrieved maybe a quarter of a toothpick. It still hurt, but I stoically continued to walk about a mile each way and back to school, (and church, that being next door to school), as scheduled for the next two weeks, knowing I could handle it... until the rest of the toothpick came out on its own.

- The summer of my junior year of high school, I got hold of an old 1950s Latin textbook. It had exercises in front and an answer key in back. I threw myself at it, making my own conjugation and declension charts, working hours and hours every day until school was back in session. I was once so fried that when I went to get a soda at the corner store, it took me a good ten seconds to remember how to work the fountain, and I figured they must've thought I was so high. But I was just working too hard. I forgot to mention this to any of my friends, and barely noticed the lack of social stuff because I was simply too busy. Everybody thought I'd fallen off the flat edge of the Earth. (This was pre-IM/Facebook/cellphones, if by a narrow margin. Nobody had my landline number.)

I know I can sound a little intense around here, but if I do, take a moment to appreciate how hard I've worked to dial it back a little.
posted by mordax at 4:42 PM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

Like the previous thread about what's unusual about your specific body, this seems like a great way to harvest information about you to which very few others are currently privy.
posted by aspersioncast at 2:17 PM on February 14
[+] [!]


Solution: have six, post #s 2, 8, & 64. Any excuse to introduce data drift.
posted by tilde at 4:52 PM on February 14, 2018

Around 3rd grade or so, I went on my first dumpster dive, right outside of my grade school. I still have those obsolete weeded textbooks.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 5:04 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Not sure if it says a lot about me, but one time during art hour in my first grade class, I reproduced to the best of my ability a Bob Ross painting of a sunset over a lake that I'd seen him do, but in finger paints. The teacher was so impressed with it, she actually recommended to my mom during the parent teacher conference that I should be in a special art program.

Then there was the time in sixth grade where I talked my friends into paying me $5 each if I sprayed cinnamon Binaca up my nose. That probably says more about me than I like to admit.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:29 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

My parents were very poor. We lived in subsidized government housing. No way could I have gone away to summer camp. A neighbor became ill and I got to go to camp for a week.
There was a day where we had to perform in some manner at a county fair like deal. My friends branded me as Mr. Dictionary and people would come to our table and ask me the definition of a word. I was nine years old and had a superior vocabulary. All day no one stumped me including some parents and teachers.
One guy failed a couple of times and came back with the word 'Onchocerciasis'
I of course failed. But his reaction to besting a nine year old was an image I have retained for 71 years. To top it off I only discovered after the fact he was mispronouncing the word. I have not held adults in very high esteem ever since.

Oh. It's a disease that can cause blindness.
posted by notreally at 5:44 PM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]

I was also grounded from reading, with the addition of being forbidden to close my bedroom door (unless I was changing) in order that my parents could check that I wasn't sneaking books. I was an intense private and self-conscious child and this felt like torture.

Also - I was always a monster kid, but at age 10, I read Dracula for the first time and developed a mighty obsession. I made my friends watch the 1931 movie several times, traumatized my tiny 3-year-old sister by telling her the plot, and made up weird Dracula-based lets-pretend games to play with my best friend in our backyard.

A few months ago, I convinced a coworker to read Dracula by excitedly explaining the plot to her in detail for 15 minutes, so not a whole lot has changed.
posted by darchildre at 5:53 PM on February 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

I was a very pious Christian in fourth/fifth grade. Our music teacher was a hippie who substituted the words "Oh Lord" with "Nah Nah" in the sing-along song Kumbaya. This burned my bum so I confronted him after class one day and said "You can sing Kumbaya your way but I sing it 'Oh Lord'". He looked baffled. After that I did sing "Oh Lord" as the rest of the class sang "Nah nah". Agnostic nowadays but I am kinda proud of my young self for not giving a shit what others thought & doing what I thought was right.
posted by i_mean_come_on_now at 5:55 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also - I was always a monster kid, but at age 10, I read Dracula for the first time and developed a mighty obsession. I made my friends watch the 1931 movie several times, traumatized my tiny 3-year-old sister by telling her the plot, and made up weird Dracula-based lets-pretend games to play with my best friend in our backyard.

I was obsessed with Dracula at that age, too! I was so obsessed with the book that my mom gave me a very old copy of it for Christmas one year (I recently figured out that it's the 1931 edition that was printed to cash in on the success of the movie). I was also super into the movie. I can't remember anything specific, but I'm like 99% sure that my friends and I played vampire games too.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:17 PM on February 14, 2018

My parents took away my books too! I remember recognizing that it was because I was neglecting my chores and generally not participating in household life in favor of reading, but mostly I was mad that there was no warning. Just BLAMMO, all your books were gone. (I never did find where they hid them, either.)

Last laugh’s on them, because I happened to have one single book under my bed that they didn’t know about. I spent the next two weeks reading that book over and over again, hidden under my bed.
posted by Liesl at 6:24 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I remember that when I was in elementary school, it occurred to me that I was at the age where I ought to be getting a crush on somebody. So I told my female playground acquaintance that I had a crush on her. Which I didn't.

I made a whole production out of it, too, like I was trying to properly carry out all the steps. I told her that I had a secret, and when she lent me her ear I whispered that I had a crush on her and then drew back like a flash.

Another story: I developed a system where if anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always answer "scientist" or "astronaut," because they were very agreeable, very adult-accepted answers that seemed to be the sort of thing they'd prefer to hear. Like, I didn't think it through in those terms, but that was basically the idea.

Last story I can think of: One day, as a kid (teenager?) I sat my parents down and asked them to give me The Talk. Not because I didn't know, necessarily, but because I wanted to be sure I hadn't missed anything in what I'd already figured out. Frankly, I'm not sure they really understood what I was trying to say there.
posted by KChasm at 6:47 PM on February 14, 2018

Wait: One more story. In either middle school or high school. I got in trouble for not standing during the pledge of allegiance, you know, the whole "not showing respect" thing. I don't know what clued me into that this Wasn't Right, but one day, after I got off school, I walked what felt like to child me miles to the nearest payphone I knew about, looked up the number of the ACLU in the attached phonebook, actually called the ACLU, and asked the woman on on the other end of the line (who undoubtedly had better things to do) whether I could be made to stand up for the pledge.

She informed me that I could not, and looking back you have no idea how grateful I am that she answered me with all the seriousness child me asked with.

So anyway, next time that whole thing happened, I had the "I called the ACLU and they said this" card, which I am pretty sure nobody at the office was expecting, and I don't know if anybody talked to anybody about anything or even if anybody talked to anybody at all, but I didn't get in trouble for not standing ever again.
posted by KChasm at 7:15 PM on February 14, 2018 [20 favorites]

So let’s see do I tell the charming little story about being an Early Reader who never knew where the 2nd grade class was when they sat around taking turns reading from the grade-appropriate readers because she had either finished the story/book excerpt everyone was slowly struggling to and moved on to another one in the book that looked interesting or had just skipped finishing it because it was boring and found a better story, and ended up casually making sense of the book rated for 12th graders before she never had to sit in the Reading Circle again

Or do I tell the one about how my twelfth birthday ruined my birthday forever because we found my father dead on the kitchen floor from an unexpected cerebral anyeurism the night before and that changed everything and I was very depressed for about half my life and have in recent years started telling everyone my birthday is a completely different date so I have some hope of maybe having some kind of celebration and enjoying it

Or maybe I’ll just tell about how when I was like five I was totally gonna marry Mary Frances and... I can’t remember her name any more... and all three of us were gonna be strawberry farmers because, hey, strawberries. And much later ended up in a poly triangle for several years that was pretty good for everyone involved until it fell apart. Yeah just forget you read the other two.
posted by egypturnash at 7:46 PM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

oh man oh man oh man:

1) I was in ballet briefly as a kindergartener, until I was "asked not to return to class" because I'd kicked one of the other girls for not doing the steps right. About this same time, my older brother started karate class and attempted to demonstrate a roundhouse kick to smol unimpressed me, before saying "Well, I bet you couldn't do it though". Reader, I kicked his two front teeth in.

2) Around the time I was 12 I told every adult who asked that I was Going to Be an Astrophysicist When I Grew Up. Obviously this did not happen but I was dead serious about it at the time and still retain more knowledge than required about neutron stars, quasars, and red shift.

3) Several of my high school teachers Gave Up and sent me to the library during their classes. I'd take their quizzes and tests and turn in an "independent study" project at the end of the year. In my recollection, these included: a seismography presentation; an extensive essay on the Life of Mohammad; a survey of the French Revolution; and a whole year of reading 18th cent. French literature, in French.

In case anyone was wondering, yes I am still an angry, awkward, indecisive nerd.
posted by clavier at 8:10 PM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

This might tell you everything you need to know about my adult penchant for punning. The first joke I can remember telling, sometime between age 4 and 7. My mom watched the evening news and tension between the US and Russia was high. At the end of a segment I asked my mother if we could have Gorbachevs for dinner.

Pronounced as closely as possible to Pork Chops. Gorbachevs. The jokes have only gotten worse.
posted by bilabial at 8:16 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh I just remembered another mom and me tv moment that speaks volumes. Obviously, not having a mom has been weighing heavily on me lately.

I probably hadn’t yet understood that the ads and the shows were different things. I remember complaining that too many of the shows were too short and only about one little thing. I liked the shows were lots of things happened and I didn’t like seeing the same show more than once in a day. Ha.

So in what I now understand was a Palmolive as, the tag line was leaves dishes ‘virtually spotless’ so I asked my mom what virtually means. And then I was perplexed why you’d brag about making something almost but not quite.

Curious about words. Perfectionist. Easily confused.

Sounds like me.
posted by bilabial at 8:33 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

And now my teeth are kinda fucked up.

I must have been 12 or 13 when my dad took me to the orthodontist. Oh man, fuck that, I will look like a moron for a year!

After the exam, the dentist sat with my dad and explained the billing. This was not really a medically necessary procedure but for sure I should get them, but if he writes it up in this slightly alternate way we can get it covered by insurance. (this was Canada maybe early or mid 80s)

When we left my dad was pissed. What was up with that dentist trying to work an insurance scam?! I am not sure if he was insulted that the dentist thought he would not be able to afford it, or whether it was just the injustice of the system being abused by this shady guy, or what.

But this was my in, I agreed wholeheartedly that this was bullshit and we never went back.

My teeth would have been fucked up anyways, I have terrible dental hygiene.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:44 PM on February 14, 2018

When I was 4, the Loma Prieta earthquake happened. After the shaking stopped, our neighbor came over and I heard her tell my mom, “I was on a ladder painting and I had to jump off when the shaking started!” For the next few years, I believed earthquakes could be caused by jumping off a high elevation onto a lower elevation, this effectively shaking the earth and starting tremors.

At around 7-8, my mom took my younger brother and I to San Francisco, and let us go into a gift shop with a budget of $5. I found the perfect thing, but it exceeded my budget. Rather than problem solve, or get mad because I couldn’t have what I wanted, I cried and felt guilty for wanting something I shouldn’t want. So sad! I’m still working on that, trying to remember that it’s OK to want things. My mom bought it for me, and still have it (a Mickey notebook!) and it still makes me uncomfortable when I see it among my childhood things, like I don’t deserve it.

Around 6, my mom spent an hour curling my stick-straight hair into beautiful curls. I then promptly changed clothes and ran through the sprinklers, because, duh, the sprinklers were on? This is me to this very damn day.
posted by samthemander at 8:55 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Losing retainers.

The first time I threw away my retainer by accident in my lunch bag my best friend (truly a best friend) and I climbed into the dumpster behind the school ... and found it!

Second time I threw away my retainer by accident was at the cafeteria in the Air & Space Museum in Washington DC. We only realized it was missing hours later just as the museum was about to close. My parents asked if we could look through day's trash for it. "Sure!" said the manager, directing us to a last-scene-in-Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark-size room filled with trash bags. I got a new retainer.

Last time was a couple years later when I threw it away again at school. I just ... never told anybody. My teeth were straight by then. They've stayed straight.
posted by lagomorphius at 9:34 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

My parents took away my books because they wanted me to practice reading in my second language. I literally screamed when I saw my empty bookshelf.
posted by bq at 10:34 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

My parents never took away books, but we had some extremely tense discussions in WaldenBooks.

*picks up a Sweet Valley High novel, adds it to the pile*

Mom: How many pages are in that book?

Me: idk, like 200?

Mom: Put it back.

Me: But I like SVH!


Me: FINE! *stomps off in to pluck Centennial off of a shelf, snaps her gum, laments that 10 year-olds don't have a big enough book budget.*
posted by xyzzy at 11:49 PM on February 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

I have a ton of these stories and they are all about food.

1) On Christmas, I'd get candy in my stocking, packed in reusable little red boxes with Christmas scenes on them. These were supposedly from Santa. One Christmas when I was... 5?... I was the first to wake up, and managed to eat the contents of several boxes before repacking the boxes in the stocking. Not wanting to admit how much candy I'd eaten, I claimed that Santa had brought me empty boxes that year. Something in my mother's tone as she asked "Why would Santa bring you empty boxes?" told me the truth about Santa, but I was calculating enough not to express my doubts for years, because, to paraphrase a line from Annie Hall, I needed the candy.

2) My parents managed to convince me that a certain type of slightly sweetened whole wheat cracker was a "cookie". I actually still love the crackers in question and think of them as a treat, but anyway... Not only was I told that these crackers were "cookies", but to enhance their mystique, my mother only allowed me two of them each day. A day came when I chafed at this restriction and threw a tantrum. I blessedly can't remember exactly in what manner I managed to make my mother cry and shout "Fine! Take the whole box for all I care!", but I do remember that I made a conscious decision at this moment that the correct course of action, both morally and strategically, was to (a) apologize, (b) take exactly three cookies, (c) return the box to the kitchen, and (d) make a little speech about how I was now empirically old enough to wisely regulate my own cookie-eating in loco parentis. I must have been about 7.

3) In 4th grade, there was an active market in lunch trading. One day when the hot lunch was "breakfast for lunch", I decided to test my arbitrage skills and see how many sausage patties I could trade my way up to. I didn't especially like sausage; it was a purely intellectual challenge, you might say. The closing bell found me holding 20 patties, which I no longer had time to eat even if I'd wanted to. So I wrapped them in a paper bag, put them under my desk, and took them home at the end of the day. At that point I wanted neither to eat nor explain them, and I felt they would be conspicuous in the trash can, so... I tucked them into a hiding place in the garage. Then I forgot about them. Then my father found them -- a month later. I didn't get in as much trouble as I expected. That's when I discovered that you can baffle your parents so deeply that the urge to instill rectitude abandons them. This is totally going to be my own weakness as a parent, I can tell.
posted by aws17576 at 12:41 AM on February 15, 2018 [9 favorites]

sucre, reading your stubborn child story is the first and only time I have ever spit up tea all over a keyboard
posted by glasseyes at 1:19 AM on February 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I was around 9 when I had my first guitar lesson. Learned three chords which I strummed relentlessly all week. At my second lesson, I proudly announced to my teacher that I had come up with my own song, which I proceeded to play until he shut me down with disdain. "Kid learns some chords and thinks he's a songwriter!" I was taken aback by his anger (the first time an adult other than a parent or teacher had gotten cross at me for something that didn't involve trespassing) but I valiantly defended my work as uniquely original, particularly for rhyming 'talk' with 'walk' and other clever couplets. He spent the rest of the lesson playing me his own originals and bragging about gigs, trying to impress upon me how he was the real deal and that I was just a little kid poser.

That seems to be my mode: I learn just enough to begin doing something, usually in my own way, and end up making careers out of it, much to the chagrin of the professionals who actually know what they are doing.
posted by bonefish at 2:20 AM on February 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

My second grade made a cookbook, with the teacher writing down each child's favorite recipe as dictated to her. My mother was an incredible single mom working long hours who hated cooking even when she had the time. She was mortified when she received the class cookbook, for in amongst all of the more-or-less accurate recipes for chicken and dumplings and beef stews was little Brokedown's soup recipe: "Get can of soup. Get can opener. Open can and follow directions on the back."
posted by thebrokedown at 4:34 AM on February 15, 2018 [7 favorites]

In the fifth grade, we were having a Battle of the Books, and I'd been out for some reason on the day the competition began, so my teacher selected my first book to read for the competition, and sent it home with my parents.

I looked at that book, Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison, which was over 300 pages and somehow I thought I'd needed to read it in one day. So I did. I finished reading the last 100 pages on so in a rush on the car ride to school the next morning.

When I showed up in class the next day, I held up the book triumphantly and told my teacher I'd finished it. She gave me the most bewildered look and said, "I picked that book for you because it was the longest one. How on earth did you possibly...." and she just sighed and showed me the list so I could pick my next one.
posted by PearlRose at 6:17 AM on February 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

One glorious day in kindergarten, I convinced my teacher to let me stay in from recess to read a book. This was obviously a new request in her career, and my classmates looked at me as though I'd lost my mind, but I was thrilled. It was to be my only victory over enforced "fun."
posted by bryon at 6:27 AM on February 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

When I was in summer before fourth grade, I came up with a science experiment for the Science Fair that year and started it early because it involved growing crystals, which takes months. When they announced that year that the science fair was to involve only "group projects," I was, uh, dismayed.

My mother had to come from work to pick me up. She tells me that she could hear my voice in the background of the school receptionist's phone, pacing back and forth in the principal's office ranting loudly about the unfairness of changing the rules on me at the last minute.

They eventually let me have my own private little science fair for my experiment, off to the side, if I agreed to participate in a regular group project as well. I was explicitly not eligible for a prize, but I was at least satisfied that my work would be appreciated and taken seriously by the Science-Fair-going public.


Either that story or the time I (four years old) took my little sister (two and a half) outside to play. I thought of a game you could play with a baby. Catch? Ah, perfect! But we had no ball. So I found a rock. I explained to my sister very carefully that we would have to throw the rock gently because it was much harder than a ball. I lobbed it cautiously to her underhand. She caught it. "Okay, now throw it back," I said encouragingly.

I had to go to the hospital to have stitches for the gash in my forehead.

(A lot of us seem to have had our books taken away as a punishment. Must be a coincidence.)
posted by Scattercat at 7:23 AM on February 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Perhaps most representative:

My dad started his PhD when I was 3, and finished when I was 8. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays while I was in preschool and kindergarten, he would pick me up from school and then we'd walk (or take the Blue Bus) to the University of Michigan Student Union where he would buy me a glazed donut and a kiwi strawberry Snapple, and then he would do his homework and I would take out my workbooks (that I asked my parents to buy me at the teacher supply store - Fun With Addition! Grammar Practice! Learning About Science! Countries of the World!) and we would spend a few hours getting work done. Then he'd take me to the Calculus I class he was TAing and I would hand out papers (to disarm the freshman) and then I'd sit and do more workbooks until after class and then we'd go home.

Perhaps least representative:

As a kid, I was afraid of everything. Thunderstorms. Car rides. Heights. Stairs where you could see through the back. Days when it looked like it might thunderstorm. Balconies. Sleepovers. Spending time away from my parents. I don't know why - I was an incredibly lucky kid who had an immensely safe and loving childhood. But I was just so, so timid. Once I decided I was going to be like Jane Goodall, I decided there really wasn't space for me to be afraid of everything, and so I was going to have to get over it because otherwise I'd spend my life on the ground floor of southern New Hampshire when I knew that there was a lot more out there.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:27 AM on February 15, 2018 [6 favorites]

ChuraChura - stairs where you can see through the back are legit scary as hell. I can handle heights well enough to walk out on the glass floor of the CN tower, but I still get nervous any time I'm in one of those late 70's- style office buildings that apparently require those kind of stairs in their building codes.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 9:04 AM on February 15, 2018

When I was three, I marched out of my room with a Disney book in my hand and proudly proclaimed that I could read. My parents were amazed when I read the book to them, but my dad got suspicious, so he had me do it again, only this time, he held the book for me. He purposely turned two pages at once, and I kept right on reciting the turned page, having simply memorized the book. So, when I was four, and I marched out my room and proudly proclaimed that I could read, my dad wasn't about to fall for my shenanigans again. He handed me the newspaper and told me to have at it. I then proceeded to read aloud the day's headline about a plane crash, which in turn triggered a life long fear of flying.

My parents will tell you that the defining story of my childhood is when I was five and we went to Disney World and I gave them an impromptu fifteen minute lecture on why some of the flamingos were more pink than the others. I was (and still am, a little) deeply offended when they reacted by laughing. I mean, I had just shared some Very Important Information. They say it was because of the whole adorable image of this little girl with pigtails and a lisp very seriously talking about the science of the flamingo diet and they were really impressed, but at the time, it felt like they were mocking me, that they weren't taking me seriously because I was a little girl with pigtails and a lisp and that was my first taste of injustice.
posted by Ruki at 10:22 AM on February 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ruki, you've reminded me -

I really did learn how to read when I was about 2 and a half, and these are stories I've heard rather than ones I remember. They knew I was really reading becuase I'd read everything I saw out loud when I saw it. Dad says that he remembers the double-takes from other customers when we were shopping in a department store or something and I'd be toddling around, saying "Men's trousers, two-nine-dot-nine-nine....dress shirts, one-nine-dot-nine-nine...."

My early reading ability was sometimes trotted out as a party trick when my parents had friends over. They'd often hand me things and I'd read them out loud. But once, someone had a Polish newspaper with them, and they gave it to me to read to see what would happen. Reportedly, when they handed it to me, I looked at it a moment - then turned it upside down and looked at it again. Then turned it back right-side up and studied it again. I did that a couple more times as people smothered their giggles before someone finally took it back, saying "it's okay, it's made up words" or something.

....My father recently confessed to me that sometime when my niece was five, he confided in my mother that he was a little concerned that she wasn't really reading all that well yet; not as well as I had been at that age. Mom just gave him a look and reminded him that my niece was actually more typical, and that I had been the anomaly. "....Oh right," Dad said.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:47 AM on February 15, 2018 [9 favorites]

This story is from seventh grade.

Inspired by the episode of M*A*S*H* where Hawkeye and friends invented a soldier for their purposes, my two best friends and I invented a student, just to see if we could pull it off.

We would say to the other kids, "Hey, you remember Alex Xanthas? Turns out he's moving back to town." "Who?" "Alex. You know, black hair, about yay tall, good at soccer. He moved away back in fifth grade." "Oh, him, yeah, yeah I remember him."

After about a week of that sort of thing, we came into school and told everyone that Alec had arrived! We had our entire class looking for him all day--I remember having great fun saying to people, "I was just talking to him during break. He headed that way. vague hand-waving. I think he has Earth Science next period." We even persuaded the principal to get on the school speaker system and page him: "Alex Xanthus, Alex Xanthus, please report to the office. Alex Xanthus, report to the office." There must have been ten kids loitering around the office looking for him.

Eventually it all came out, and people either laughed or rolled their eyes. But the kids talked about it for years afterwards.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:08 AM on February 15, 2018 [8 favorites]

My father ran for the Board of Education when I was ten. He had a bunch of flyers printed with his face, credentials and positions. One fine day I decided to amuse myself by taking a flyer, adorning my father's photo with devil horns, gap teeth, flies, stink lines and Frankenstein bolts. I then inserted the flyer randomly into the stack. Smash cut to two weeks later when I'm canvassing with dad and he knocks on a door and hands out a flyer without looking at it too closely. The recipient of the flyer was not impressed.

He lost the election.
posted by zeusianfog at 11:30 AM on February 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

At about 4 years old, I was filling many giant doodle pads with drawings. My work brought a great deal of acclaim from my parents and teachers....but I also had a secret giant doodle pad that I would work on in bed (because it was usually still light outside at my bedtime). This one was filled with crude drawings of naked people, at first just standing around or touching each other but later chained up; then chained up and being carried through scary factory machinery.

One night my mum had women friends over for cards and came into my room without warning to get a doodler to show them. She took the one that was on my bed and went out. I lay there in terror. She came back a few minutes later and said that she'd told her friends that she couldn't find any nice drawings to show them. She explained it was fine for art to show naked people but these drawings weren't that sort of art. I cried a lot and tore every page into small pieces and put them in the wastebasket. I never drew drawings like that again, except for the time I drew a penis on Mowgli in a copy of The Jungle Book. I got another talk.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:48 AM on February 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

One time when I was 48, I was reading every single comment on this fantastic MetaFilter post, but then got really bummed when I got to the end.

Wait, am I doing this right?
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:53 AM on February 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

I too was punished by restricting my reading time! My parents didn't take away my books but simply told me I wasn't allowed to read for X number of days (... this happened multiple times). Every time -- every time -- I would end up reading in my bed at night by the thin slice of light coming in from my slightly-ajar door, neck crooked at an awkward angle in order to keep most of the covers over me and the book in my hands, so I could shove it under my pillow at a moment's notice if need be. (For plausible deniability, obviously. Yes, I normally did have a book under my pillow, didn't you?)

I guess this punishment took root better than expected because when I was in college, going through a very serious evangelical Christian phase, I voluntarily gave up reading for fun for the 40 days of Lent. I could only read for class, the news, and the Bible. I went to a very nerdy school and even among my uber-earnest nerd friends this was greeted with many a raised eyebrow.

(I have since lapsed on religion but relapsed on reading, in that I do it all. the. time. You can pry my books/Kindle from my cold dead hands, thanks.)
posted by alleycat01 at 1:23 PM on February 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

My mother claims that when asked what I wanted for my 3rd birthday, I proclaimed "My favorite things: candy and money!" I guess I knew what was what, even then.

I hesitated to include this one in light of recent events, but: I was deeply involved in marching band in high school (like: chief band nerd, drum major when we won the state marching contest, etc). One day when I was in high school, the entire building (~2000 students) was evacuated because of a bomb threat. As we loitered on the lawn next to the football field, we noticed that the knot of cop-and-school-authorities seemed to be headed our way. Moments later, my teacher was pointing in the direction of me and my gaggle of friends, and a moment after that I was being questioned by a very serious cop about what I might be hiding in my locker. Someone had reported a threatening ticking sound coming from it.

"Oh," said I. "72 beats per minute, huh? Pretty sure it's the metronome in my clarinet case."

And indeed it was. (Later, I recounted this story to a friend in the sax section, who without hesitation said "Oh, is your locker next to Ms. Smith's room? I remember thinking I heard a metronome when I walked past there this morning.")

This was shortly after Columbine and while we were all highly aware of it, I don't think any of us students ever thought something serious was happening during the evacuation. I am wholly depressed to think about how we might have reacted today, given the events that have happened in the nearly 20 years since.
posted by alleycat01 at 1:41 PM on February 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don’t actually remember believing in Santa Claus. I could read by the Christmas I was four years old, so when Santa “wrote back” to my note as he did every year, I must have realized it was Mommy’s handwriting. At which point I must have figured, OK, this is a pretend game, and those only work if everybody plays along. I don’t have many memories before age 5, at which point I already knew exactly what was up with Santa. However, I continued to play right along, figuring my parents knew I knew, and I knew they knew, and that we were both playing in full knowledge that it was a game. (Much later, I learned that they did not know I knew.)

I remember playing with one neighbor kid at age 5 or 6, who asked if I thought Santa was real. I hemmed and hawed and said I wasn’t sure (I was sure, but I didn’t know what she thought and didn’t want to seem either stupid or mean). She said angrily “Well, last Christmas I saw a pair of boots going up the chimney! NOW do you believe in him?” So I pretended to be convinced.

My parents and I never had a Big Reveal conversation about Santa. Eventually, they just kind of assumed I must have figured it out. I don’t remember when that was exactly, because it was such a subtle slow shading on both of our parts from “totally playing along” to “ironically playing along”.

People-pleasing, conflict-averse, strongly inclined to just play along when something seems like it’s being left unspoken on purpose, avoiding hard clarifying conversations with the people close to me (but still having it somehow work out that we both silently get it)… yeah, that says a lot about both me and my family dynamics.
posted by snowmentality at 5:17 PM on February 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Mom never took my books away, but she often claims that when she needed to punish me, my punishment was to go outside and play with the other children. Given my rather poisonous personality in childhood, I'd have to class it as more a punishment for the other children.

Typifying anecdote - Age 12 - Mom, as part of her studies in an ashram, had a day of silence every week. One Sunday day of silence, she came to my room and mimed looking for something. I couldn't quote grasp what she was looking for, so she had to spell it out with her fingers, waiting for me to say each letter out loud.
"T - V - G - U - I - D - tv-guido!"
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 5:21 PM on February 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

When I was in first grade, my older brother (in fourth) was just starting to be thinking about girls and so started asking me who it was that I had a crush on. Being six, I had a crush on nobody; indeed the closest to a crush I had was on a fellow girl, but proto-queer me didn't even recognise that as such and certainly would never have admitted it had I done so. But I idolised my brother and wanted to impress him so I lied and picked a boy in my class who seemed nice enough (his name was Zachary).

My brother then started incessantly asking me when I was going to kiss Zachary, telling me he didn't think I was brave enough to kiss him, etc etc. He finally bet me $1 that I wouldn't kiss him. Never one to refuse a bet, I took it, and then was left with the dilemma of how to kiss Zachary.

I finally formulated the following brilliant plan: I would challenge Zachary to a race, and then when I won -- it didn't even occur to me that I wouldn't win -- he would be so stunned in the aftermath and at that point I'd just leap up and kiss him really fast. That way I could keep the dreaded kiss to an extremely small amount of time but still be able to claim that I'd had a kiss.

The plan commenced. I challenged Zachary and we worked out the following terms: first one to get across the playground and touch the wall of the school was the winner. Bang! We were off. About halfway there, we were neck and neck and I started realising that Zachary might win. All thoughts of the kiss flew out of my mind and I determined that there was no way I was going to let him win, so I put all my effort into running as fast as I could -- so much so that I didn't slow down when I got to the wall of the school and RAMMED into it full speed, face-first.

Blood flew everywhere; my lip was split and I had lost a tooth. At this point I remembered the kiss so I kind of pushed my head, bloody tooth and all, at Zachary, who was indeed standing there in stunned disbelief as planned. I'm not sure there was a kiss, but there was a lot of blood and him running away before the teachers got to me and sent me to the nurse's office.

I told my brother I had won the race and gotten the kiss and he owed me $1.
posted by forza at 7:25 PM on February 15, 2018 [12 favorites]

When I was in 4th grade, I wrote an indignant letter to our local politician about the amount of trash and general neglect in and around the canal nearby. I even went down and took photos and gave my parents my pocket money to get them developed so I could send my EVIDENCE. A few weeks later, the politician sent a formal letter back to my school and got the place tidied up. And thus, a letter writing monster was born...
posted by recklessbrother at 9:05 PM on February 15, 2018 [7 favorites]

My parents never took away my books, but they would tell me I could read one chapter before bed. So I would read Julie of the Wolves because the book was divided in three big sections with no chapters, so I could read a third of the book without being the rules
posted by ChuraChura at 9:53 PM on February 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

Man, all these book stories. Where are my people who, uh, weren't voracious readers?

I always felt dumb because I wasn't obsessed with books like my sister was. She was reading Vonnegut in middle school, and I was, like, thumbing my way through picture books that showed the layout of castles and stuff (Stephen Biesty was always my favorite). I didn't hate reading, and I read a few books here and there, but for the most part I was never much of a reader, even though I could read at a young age. It sucked, because reading a lot was always the marker for "smart," but I could never follow anything I read; even now I have to read stuff over and over again before it sinks in (to say nothing about how I forget who all the different characters are).

That said, another story that probably says something about me is that I was placed in a remedial "learn to study" class in 8th grade, and somehow, despite this being a class meant to instill discipline in us, I spent the whole year ignoring everyone and reading books on my own. I don't know how I got away with it, since everyone else was being graded on "learn to manage your assignments" worksheets and whatnot, but I could be extremely stubborn. I probably only read two books, and it probably took the whole year to read them, but I read the Martian Chronicles and a Michael Crichton book (I'm pretty sure it was The Lost World). So, despite my chronic inability to follow a novel, and despite being in a class that was supposed to teach me how to pay attention, I managed to spend the whole time reading by myself.

So I'm pretty sure I managed to fail remedial study hall in 8th grade.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:43 PM on February 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

I was also an early reader and once in kindergarten, my teacher let me pick out something to read out loud to the class for storytime. I happened to be reading a middle school English lit reader from the 1970s that I think I found at a library sale and I decided I was going to read the class a THRILLING excerpt about one of the Apollo missions. People blasting into outer space! What could be more exciting?

Halfway through the very long and very technical chapter, I realized I had gravely misjudged my audience. I distinctly remember sitting there up front in the big rocking chair, droning on in my precise little reading voice about Stage 1 booster rockets and flight paths and control panels, and looking up and realizing my classmates were Not At All Interested. They were squirming and fidgeting as kindergartners do, and I was starting to panic because I still had what felt like a hundred pages left to go.

Six-year-old me did not have the public speaking skills to gracefully end this nightmare (to be fair, thirty-year-old me doesn't either) so I think I just plodded on while freaking out on the inside. My teacher might have intervened at some point, for everyone's sake. I don't have a clear memory of the second half of the reading, just a deep lingering sense of mortification as well as disbelief that people could be so uninterested in the world around them.

I pretty much still do this today, but thankfully I've also learned to find and cherish the people who can appreciate the interesting in everything.
posted by yeahlikethat at 8:27 AM on February 16, 2018 [5 favorites]

Four year old me apparently asked my mum after the first week of school how long I had to continue going for.
posted by ellieBOA at 9:47 AM on February 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

I bit a big chunk out of a urinal cake because I thought it was a lolly. Also set fire to a lot of stuff.

"The talk" which I got from my dad way too late quickly glossed over the actual details of procreation and descended into excoriation of the "poofs" and how they were bad and everything they did was bad and how I should never be one.

Yeah, ok, dad, but you can't tell me about how gays are bad and also take away my Penthouse Black Labels, you gotta give me something to work with here!

I'm sure some Catholic families do it right but, man, not my dad. Growing up not only scared and guilty but also judgmental is utterly toxic and poisonous to a young brain, and took and still takes a lot of work to get over.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:15 PM on February 19, 2018

Also I liked to tease G.I. Joe action figures apart slightly at the...thorax or that I could put a wooden toothpick through the little rubber connectors that attached their torsos to their hips and it looked like they had been speared through the guts. And, heat a needle and push it into their little plastic bodies and then put red model paint in the holes so it looked like they had been shot to bits. Another one I did the same thing but used silver model paint so he was like the T-1000. Then I smashed them all with hammers.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:29 PM on February 19, 2018

As a kid and a teen, I used to ride my horse to my best friend's house and ask her for American cheese.

I would happily live my entire life from cradle to grave riding a nice horse from place to place and requesting cheese. That is a childhood well-lived indeed!
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:35 PM on February 19, 2018

My second grade cookbook submission was hot chocolate. "Dump mix in hot water. Stir." My mom was actually a good cook. I was just a super lazy kid.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:19 PM on February 19, 2018

I've got a couple more:

My first good one-liner occurred when I was about four, when I put up a fuss at the doctor's office over his wanting to give me a booster shot. "If I were giving the shot to Phyllis (his office manager), she wouldn't cry," he told me. "Well, give it to her, then!" I yelled. He gave it to me, anyway...

A few years ago, when my daughter was nine and in the fourth grade, I went to family morning in her classroom, an every-six-weeks-or-so event where we'd get a look into what our kids were up to in class and work on a project with them. On this particular morning, we were supposed to bring in books we'd read at the age of nine to share, and my daughter had forgotten to tell my wife and me about that part of it. I went up to her teacher, with whom I had a good repore, afterward, and said, "It's a good thing she didn't tell me to bring a book with me, because when I was nine, I read 'Helter Skelter!' " He gave me a smile, though I'm not sure what it really meant...
posted by AJaffe at 7:50 PM on February 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

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