• Elliott

Five Strange Misconceptions I Had As A Child

OK, so everyone had stupid warped perceptions of the world that they believed as a kid, right? Well I thought I'd share a few of mine with you today. Feel free to laugh at them, and share yours too. I'd love to hear them! (I think this is actually my first "numbered list" article, so hopefully you can forgive me for the apparent lack of creativity on this post.)

1. Pronunciations & Spelling

There were a number of words, names or phrases that I must have heard, but had never seen written down, because the way that I interpreted them was...well, very wrong. Usually it was when phrases were said with no clear pauses between the words, so I just sort of guessed and broke them down in my head, but I was always hilariously off. Some examples include:

- The TV show "Snog Marry Avoid" - I thought people were saying "Snog Maria Void"... Who the hell is Maria Void!?

- The singer, Gwen Stefani. For some reason, for years I thought her first name was Gwensta, and her surname was Farni. Personally I still prefer this. She'll always be Gwensta to me.

- Mary-Kate & Ashley - I thought that Mary, Kate and Ashley were three people. So needless to say, I was always confused that one of them never showed up.

- The town of Milton Keynes, which I believed was called "Milk and Keys". To be fair it's also not far from a town called Towcester, pronounced "Toaster", so for a while I just thought it was pretty normal for places to be named after objects that you might find in a kitchen.

- There are a ton of songs that I completely misheard the lyrics of as a child. An example that springs to mind is that I used to sing "I'm in America" to the chorus of Coco Star's "I Need A Miracle". I frequently still prove myself hilariously wrong by searching up the lyrics of old songs that were big in the early 2000s.

- This one is actually the opposite of the other examples - as it's a case of me misreading text and pronouncing it wrong rather than mishearing. But there's a brand of cat food called "Kit-e-Kat", and I used to refer to it as "Kite Kat". In more recent years they updated the logo to accentuate the "e" more, but it used to sit right next to the "Kit", and the only way to differentiate it was that the "e" was in a different colour. Thinking about it, Kite Kat doesn't really make any sense as a brand name, but I was still sure that it should have been pronounced that way, even after being told I was wrong. I'm still not over that one.

2. "Exotic" Hazards

This is a weird one. Perhaps it's due to their frequent inclusion in TV cartoons, comics and video games, but I was really convinced that the dangers of quicksand and lava from volcano eruptions would play a much more substantial role in my life. But, to date, I'm happy to announce that I am yet to come across either of them. I was so mentally prepared for the inevitable lava pit or treacherous quicksand that I'd have to cross on my way to my first job interview; but alas, I think I took the slightly safer pedestrian route.

Fire was another big one. I guess that adults were concerned with just hammering the point home that fire was dangerous, but again I really thought this would come into play more in my life. I'm obviously grateful that fire hasn't been something I've had to deal with, but I think I was just somehow expecting it to be a common obstacle that I would come across at some point, in the same way that sometimes you're on a walk and a river blocks your path.

3. Conkers

Conkers are a funny one - never before has something with such a high perceived value dropped so quickly in my life. Forget bitcoin; investing in conkers was a real dangerous game.

As a child I absolutely loved conker season, and I'd spend ages collecting the biggest, roundest, shiniest conkers that I could. Perhaps most exciting of all was when you'd find a huge one, still encased in its spiky shell, and you'd peel it out to claim as your own - there was something incredibly satisfying about that. I barely even did anything with them once I'd collected them, but they just felt so cool and valuable somehow. I felt like I was treasure-hunting, and every time I came back with a carrier bag full of them, I was rich. Or at least I was until I rediscovered my collection weeks later when they had all shrivelled up and lost their shiny allure.

I also thought that water chestnuts you'd find in a Chinese takeaway were conkers too. I suppose I wasn't so far off on that one, but luckily I never tried to eat a conker.

4. Bands

I was nothing less than outraged when I found out that you can be in more than one band. For some reason I was under the impression that there was some sort of rule that meant you had to remain...monogamous (for lack of a better word) and perform in just one singular band. When I found out that Damon Albarn was the frontman of both Gorillaz and Blur, my mind was blown. He can't do that - can he? Well, it turns out he could. I later found out that he also had a solo career, and he was the lead singer in another band, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, too. What a greedy bastard. The cheek of it.

5. Crossing Roads

Adults tell you not to play in the road, and to stop and look both ways before you cross. This is undeniably, definitely, good advice. I think I took someone's advice a bit too seriously though, because for a while as a kid I thought that if you didn't look both ways before you cross, you would get run over. I think I sometimes took words of warning a bit too literally as a kid - I believed that if you didn't look both ways, even if the road was seemingly completely empty, a car would come and hit you unless you checked both directions. And it was almost as if looking both ways was some sort of ritual that ensured a car wouldn't show up. No harm done - I think it just made me overly vigilant when it came to road safety, which, in the grand scheme of things, was definitely a good thing.

What I love about all of these is that as an adult you have a much more clearly-defined idea of what is and isn't, and how the world works. But as a child, you're much more impressionable, and as a result, your perception of the world can be incredibly easily warped, even just a little, by a single encounter or stimulus being ever so slightly misinterpreted.

Well, that's about it for this one. I hope that was amusing to you, or that it maybe brought some of your own childhood misconceptions to mind!


Can't get enough of this topic? Well, I've got some good news for you. I've put together a short list of related articles, videos and other content from around the web that is related to what I've written about. Feel free to click away and take your brain on an adventure.

Sometimes, Childhood Misconceptions Make More Sense Than the Grownup Reality - Slate

People share their most ridiculous childhood misconceptions | Nancy reads Reddit - YouTube

InBrief: The Science of Early Childhood Development | Harvard University - YouTube

Brain Development - FirstThingsFirst

The Rise & Fall of Quicksand - Slate

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