Things look different through the eyes of children than they do through those of adults – that can be a blessing in disguise when kids are young, but when they grow up, so do their eyes.
And these 15 people had a moment of terrible realization when they looked back on childhood events with grown-up wisdom.
#15. When I was ten.
“When I was ten I woke up in the middle of the night to my mom yelling no and I went to find out what was going on. I went into my parents room only to be told everything is fine by her and I should go back to bed and since it was dark and I couldn’t see anything I didn’t think otherwise. It turns out my father was violently raping my mom – so violently, in fact, that he broke her pelvis. What my mom didn’t tell me until I had already grown up and was living on my own is that when I came into the room he tried to make his way towards me and she got her hand around his dick and iron-gripped the fuck out of it to stop him coming after me.
Edit: Since some have asked what happened to my father: My mom almost immediately started to divorce him. It was a long time coming since he was an alcoholic and drug user, mainly cocaine. He was frequently cheating on her. Being drunk and fucked up on whatever drug cocktail of that night an argument over whether my father should run off to his main side chick apparently broke out. He went to prison for the rape and was in and out of it for around 14 or so years for violating his parole. After my mom secured being able to legally move out of state with us she moved us as far away from him as possible. He was still waiting in jail when he approach another person in jail and asked him to plant some drugs in my mom’s car to get her in trouble. This person knew my mom, called my father an idiot, and reported this info to the police. The last time I’ve seen him in person for close to twenty years was the morning after the rape.”
#14. Ever helpful.
“I have only mild recollection of this but apparently people were doing a lot of IV heroin/cocaine around me as a child. When we got to our drug awareness/DARE type class in the 3rd or 4th grade, they showed us pictures of drugs and needles and stuff with the usual scare tactics. My classmate, confused, asked how the powder could go inside the needle. Ever helpful, my 8/9 year old self explained that you had to get a spoon and cook it over a candle first until it melted down. My teacher was not happy.”
#13. It all made sense.
“My dad used to take me to my aunt’s apartment to watch them “make soap” when I was about 7 years old. I grew up helping them “make soap” by grinding the powder and setting it aside. I used to often see them snort it as a way of “testing” it.
Only to find out a few years later that they were all just doing cocaine.
It got so bad to the point that I was imitating the act of making a line with baby power and a ruler at home. My mom saw me and started screaming at my dad. I remember crying and saying “I’m just making soap! Why are you fighting?”
It all made sense.”
#12. More spirited than usual.
“I grew up in an evangelical unaffiliated church. They believed in speaking in tongues, demon possession, and exorcisms. A local boy that I befriended, maybe 12 to 14 in age at the time, lived in the apartments near our church. He was poor and rough, he cussed and smoked and was generally on his own but on Sunday and Wednesday nights he started coming over to the church. One night for some reason someone decided that they needed to put hands on him and pray for his soul. He didn’t like that so he jumped back and yelled profanities at them. That apparently was clear evidence that he was possessed so several adults wrestled him out of the pew and held him down while he screamed and flailed and cussed at them for the next couple of HOURS until he was exhausted and bruised enough and they were satisfied the demon left. The hundred or so onlookers just all started praying and crying and dancing around it.
That was just a pretty normal church night, maybe a little more spirited than usual. He didn’t return and in retrospect its amazing that the police never even showed up. Similar things happened multiple times throughout my childhood.
It wasn’t until I was an adult and I looked back to see how completely fucked up that all was. How terrifying that must have been for him.”
#11. Our sleeping friend.
“When I was little (I guess like 6 or something) a friend and I found a man sleeping in the bushes at our sports field. We thought it was some homeless guy that was sleeping there and we thought it was hilarious. We told everyone on the field en showed some of them the sleeping man. My uncle, who works for the police, also came with us when we asked him to come see our sleeping friend.
A few minutes later, the game that was playing on the field was cancelled and the place where the man was was swamped with police. I thought they came to wake the man up.
Turned out a few years later, he was dead, I believe he was murdered in the park that connected to our sportsfield.
Yeah so I guess I found a dead man when I was 6.”
#10. The game we played.
“When my sister and I were kids (about 6 or 7 years old) my dad would have us play a “game” while my mother was in the hospital. He would have us look for bottles of pills, whoever found the most won. We had no idea what was going on or why my mother was ALWAYS sick and in the hospital. We just knew that was the way things always were. She died when I was 9 years old..
Fast forward to when I was 17. I was experiencing a really bad part of my life (that I’d rather not discuss) and came home crying to my dad. He eventually told me that he understood how I was feeling and told me that my mother was an addict and was making herself sick. At that moment I remembered the long lost memory of the “game” we played as kids and what it really was.”
#9. I didn’t realize…
“I was with my dad at an airshow in Toronto, back in the 90s. We watched this big plane go up and do a maneuver, and then go into a dive, going nose first into the lake, with a massive splash. My dad was a photographer and had managed to capture the seconds before and after impact, and told me we had to go right away(he booked it to the newspaper with the film roll to get it developed). I said I wanted to watch the rest of the show, because I thought it had just dropped a bomb and flown off. Didn’t realize that I had just witnessed 7 people die.”
#8. My mother is very creative.
“When I was 11 my mom and I left my dad and were homeless. I did not realize we were homeless till I was 20. I just thought we were on some kinda excursion. We were just kinda sleeping in the car and at friends houses for a while. I just had so much trust for my mother I was never once startled by the situation. My mother is also very creative “wow, I found these flavored tuna pouches, wouldn’t it be cool if we acted like cats?”, “I bet you cant brush your teeth with only a water bottle.”, and other classics like “I’m gonna leave you at the library for a while”. About 2 years later we did find a house.
Edit: to clarify, we were only homeless for 2 years, haha, it just didnt occur to me that we were actually homeless till I was 20. ALSO I will hug my mother plenty for everyone. PS, she now has a very nice house with 4 kittens and gets to retire in 3 years 🙂 She’s my everything.”
“My neighbor committed suicide on his front porch and my brother and I were the first ones to find his corpse. We were only 6/7 years old at the time so we really didn’t know much about the whole scenario.
All we really knew is that there was a grey stain on the concrete afterwards and no one wanted to stand there.”
#6. I want to bring justice.
“This one is hard because I barely remember parts of it and I didn’t find out the whole story until I was 20.
At about age 4 I was being tormented by my older brother who was 12 at the time. He kept annoying me and would be a pester, like older brothers are. One day we go out to play on the trampoline when our neighbor calls my brother over to show him something. I never went with him. After that day, my brother stopped being such a nuisance to me. A few weeks after my brother was constantly leaving the house with Mom to “go to the doctors” nearly every day. I always asked where they were going and mom said “were going to the doctors!” I didn’t find out until 16 years later that my brother was sexually abused by our neighbor. He tried swallowing a whole bottle of Advil before he went to school and told the nurse he had a tummy ache. I broke down in tears when my mom told me this and even now I find it hard to talk about. To this day I know where he lives and I want to bring justice but my parents tell me all it will do is destroy my future and bring nothing but pain to my brother.
People are fucked.”
#5. For tattling.
“When I was in grade 1 a girl next to me in class decided to secretly show me her bum in the middle of class and tell me to touch it. I told the teacher because it was weird and girls were gross.
Teacher pulled her out the class to talk to her. Principal came. Upset adults… I sit there mortified i got her in trouble. She gets pulled out of the class and never comes back. Think I’m the biggest jerk for tattling.
Later find out she was being sexually abused, hence why she thought secretly showing her body was what she should do for boys she liked, and my saying something is what triggered adults pull her out of that situation.”
#4. My mom helped save her.
“On a family trip to Washington DC when I was 8. For half a day this random lady came with me and my family to all the museums. She was really nice and friendly and hung out with my mom. I thought she was an old friend if hers. Years later I find out that this woman was being beaten and threatened in public by her boyfriend and my mom stepped in and rescued her. Made her come with us, called the cops, talked her out of the relationship and set her up with a safe house.
My mom grew up in an abusive home and knew the signs when she saw them. We don’t know what happened to that woman but I like to think that my mom helped save her. I now look for subtle signs of abuse and will always step if I see someone uncomfortable in public.”
#3. I wanted to go play with them.
“Went to the local beach with family. When we arrived, I remember being enamored by so many people holding hands in a huge line (had thought they were all playing a game) and walking from the shore into chest high water. I got excited and started begging my mom to go play with them. Had never seen the human chain done before to find a missing swimmer.
EDIT: They found her, attempted CPR, but couldn’t revive her. So it also became the first time that I had seen a dead body. I thought they had just found her during the course of the “game”. It wasn’t until I got a bit older that I realized that was why they were doing it in the first place.”
#2. Brilliantly insulated.
“I grew up in NYC and a really nice guy and his wife who lived in our building would watch me after school. They were Puerto Ricans and the husband, Jose, spoke very little english. He was basically my best friend and we would spend our days going on chores and communicating in our own way.
One day we are in a bodega and this big dude comes in talking loud and being a bit of a dick. Jose literally picks me up, walks me to the back and starts letting me pick out all this junk food I usually can’t have. It was awesome and every time I’m like “yo Jose this is what I want I want these ho-hos” he’s like “you sure papi?” and induces a existential crisis in me, so I’d put them back and further scrutinize my options.
Eventually I have my snacks and I’m firm on my decision. That’s when I realize Jose is acting really weird and there is a chaotic buzz in the air.
I see a pool of blood and the dude who works the register sitting down with all these people around him.
Turns out that guy who had come in was a big, brollic lunatic with metal pipe. He had beaten the store owner to a pulp, screaming gibberish, all while I was distracted by delicious hostess snacks a few aisles away.
We awkwardly paid this dude who was fucked up and bounced. it wasn’t until many years later talking to Jose’s kids that I found out how dangerous the situation was and how brilliantly he insulated me from it.
EDIT: Damn, never had a comment blow up before. Some clarifications:
I exaggerated in my telling a bit and was definitely aware that this guy was making a ruckus and folks were arguing with him, but that wasn’t too out of the ordinary so I paid no mind because Jose paid no mind. I didn’t realize people were getting their heads busted open.
This was the early 90’s in NYC. I’m sure people will say NYC was safe in the 90s, and it was (at least compared to the 70/80s) but I saw some CRAZY shit as a kid and was actually the victim of some serious beatings.
Jose grew up in Puerto Rico and was never exposed to government sponsored violence or anything (that I know of) like some people are theorizing in the comments. That said, he and his family grew up in serious poverty, both in PR and NY. I believe he was probably exposed to shitty situations and knew how to handle himself but he himself was not a violent person. I might not have made it clear but he was actually and old man with adult children of his own.”
#1. It’s just abuse.
“I remember doing the dishes and all of the spoons would have burnt backs. It was confusing to me as a kid, and I knew my mom and her boyfriend were bad to me. I thought they beat me, spoke badly to me, and said bad things to me because I was just awful. I didn’t realize until I was older that the backs of those spoons were burnt to smoke crack with a lighter on the bottom, and all of this is just abuse.
I feel you, and going no-contact is oftentimes the healthiest option.”