Children are naturally more innocent and naïve than adults, and they often see the world through a lens of wonder and good intentions. But there are some childhood memories that may stand out as being pretty suspicious from the perspective of a wiser adult who's experienced more of the world.
Here, grown-ups describe the situation from their childhood that they later realized was completely messed up and inappropriate.
(Content has been edited for clarity.)
Never Go With Strangers
“When I was about 4 years old, I was grocery shopping with my grandpa. I somehow got separated from him and was wandering around lost, asking people if they saw my grandpa. Some guy came up to me and said, ‘Your grandpa is outside, I’ll take you to him.’ So I follow him outside, and he tells me my grandpa is in his truck. He opens the truck door for me to get in. Next thing I know, the guy gets thrown up against his truck. I look over and there is my grandpa strangling the guy. He called him a sick lunatic and said if he ever sees him around town again he will kill him.”
Our Zombie Bus Driver
“In the fifth grade, our bus driver was acting like a zombie, talking all slow and slurred. She said she was tired. As she was going along the route in a subdivision, our bus suddenly jumped the curb and plowed down a mailbox. We all screamed, but more in a ‘Wow! This is exciting!’ way because none of us were hurt and we didn’t realize we’d been in any danger. She laughed it off, going, ‘Whoops, I fell asleep! My bad.’
Twenty years later and, uh, was she wasted? Extremely sleep-deprived? She could’ve gotten us all killed if she fell asleep on the main road and veered into a car or tree.”
He Was Dangling A Furby In Front Of Me
“I was young – I don’t remember the age – but I was leaving a Dollar General store while my dad sat in his truck in the parking lot. I don’t remember what I was looking for, but they didn’t have it at that location. Anyway, as I was walking to my dad’s truck, some extremely filthy man was sitting in the driver’s seat of some beat-up, rusted car with a similar-looking, filthy woman in the passenger seat. He got my attention with this toothless, creepy grin as I was walking by, and he started pulling a Furby out from the corner of his windshield and dashboard.
He never said anything to me, just sort of motioned to come towards him while holding the Furby out the window. Thankfully, I had been told over and over again to never talk to or take things from strangers, so I ignored him and kept walking. The saddest and most messed up part is that in the car’s back seat, I could see two (or possibly three) very dirty-looking children. I didn’t pay much attention to their facial expressions or anything else about them since I was already grossed out by the driver. I didn’t say anything to my dad about it once I got back into his truck. I just got in and we left.
Hopefully, they weren’t kids that had been kidnapped, but that doesn’t make the situation a whole lot better. Even if they were the man’s own children, they had to have been in a poor situation.”
My Friend’s Father Used Me For Protection
“When I was 6 years old, my friend’s dad was badly burned in a fire, but lived. My friend was sent away to live with her mom. When I was 7, he had healed enough to drive and have an apartment and such, but I was terrified of him. He was Freddy Kruger to me. I did whatever he asked. He made some phone calls to random people from my family’s house, then told me I was going on a car ride with him and at the end, he’d buy me a happy meal. My mom was cool with this, so I went along. My mom stayed home. It was dark out, but I knew we’d driven to a bad part of the city near the train. He told me to sit in the front seat, and not to say anything to anyone. He stopped the car in the middle of a block, exchanged casual words and small items with a few men through the car windows, then we went to get my happy meal. He told me I was not to tell my mother we went to the bad area or tell her about anything I saw while we were there.
I realized in my teens, he took me along to purchase illegal substances as insurance, in case someone wanted to hurt him. He figured they wouldn’t do anything with a kid sitting there in the car.”
The Time We Left My Mother Behind On A Trip
“My parents separated when I was 6 years old. I remember being excited because we were going on a trip. Dad arrived, and my 4-year-old brother and I got in the car. I remember my mother standing at the door, looking distressed, holding a packed bag, as we drove away. My dad drove us to Ontario. It was a 14-hour drive. I puked a lot along the way, and I remember having wicked anxiety in general. We stayed a week, and visited ‘Canada’s Wonderland,’ then came back home.