When we were children, we saw life through a different lens. In our eyes, the world seemed like a much more innocent and welcoming place. People, places, and memories might have seemed like one thing but in reality, they were something completely different. Sometimes, it's as if we don't see life and its myriad of situations for what it truly is until we're much older.
That's what a group of people recently did when they took to Reddit to share memories they didn't fully understand until years after the fact. What might seem innocent to a child can sometimes be something entirely different from a different perspective, and that's what these people found out. We've gone through their stories and found the most riveting childhood memories. All posts have been edited for clarity.
And They Thought They Had Just Made A New Friend
“I was ‘kidnapped’ by a junkie who lived around the block from me growing up. He had candy and said he had just adopted a new puppy so I should come and see him and pet him and stuff. I DID end up going. He ALMOST did inappropriate things to me, which I thought it was all part of ‘finding the puppy,’ but his roommate walked in at just the right time and pretty much saved my life.
I was never told about this until I was 23 years old when my parents though it would be a great idea to tell me on my birthday. Surprise! You almost got assaulted as a child! Happy birthday!”
The Trip To The Pool Wasn’t As Happy As He Remembered
“I was taking swimming lessons at the community pool when I was fairly young. My mom was waiting for me in the parking lot in the car, so when I finished my lesson, I got changed and started to walk out to the car.
Well, I walked out of the doors to the pool and there were three boys (guessing junior high aged, give or take). Two of the boys grabbed my arms and the third boy pulled a knife and held it toward my stomach. They never asked me for anything that I recall. I don’t even recall them saying anything (it has been a lot of years, so maybe they did). I’m guessing it was just a power thing for them. I had no martial arts training, but my reaction was to try and step away from the two boys holding me (sliding my arms out of theirs) and kick the kid with the knife in the nuts. Well, them being much bigger than me, they held tight to my arms and I nearly impaled myself on the knife when I stepped forward to try and kick the other kid in the twins (the fact they held my arms tight probably kept me from walking into the knife).
My mom saw three boys around me and got out of the car and walked to me. The boys scattered and mom asked me what was up. I casually told her that they pulled a knife on me and hopped in the car. She drove me to the police station where I was interviewed for about 20 or 30 minutes by an officer. I remember being annoyed because I wanted to go home and eat lunch and watch TV. I just had this attitude that this was a big waste of my time and I wanted to go home.
Looking back on it as an adult, I now realize that the whole situation could’ve turned ugly quick. Young me seemed to have no concept of the gravity of the situation. I was young, outnumbered, and overpowered, yet I only wanted to kick the kid in the nuts.
The Truth About Mom
“My parents divorced when I was 4 years old. I even watched my mom walk out the door when I was sitting at the coffee table in the living room playing with my toys. My stepmother and father told me my entire life that she was a horrible mother who was high all the time, and that she was purposefully manipulative and neglectful toward me.
I would later find out she had a lot of mental problems and when she had me, she developed postpartum depression on top of it all. She wasn’t neglectful purposefully, she just was not mentally fit to be a parent in the ways that I needed her to be up until that point. No attempt was made after the multiple diagnoses for treatment of her various disorders and even today goes untreated even though I am an adult now and my sister has been for a while.
My stepmom fed me those lies to make me hate her because she, too, has several untreated mental disorders, is a narcissist in every way, and held a grudge against my biological mother because she was extremely jealous that my biological mother had kids with my dad before my stepmom could.”
Are Cages Meant For Children?
“My uncle used to keep me in a cage, but I thought it was just a game. He would leave me in there for days at a time, and the police in China didn’t do anything about when they found out.
My uncle was a VERY poor man, I mean no shoes poor. He had a small two-room apartment that he shared with a family of four. He stayed with the parents in their room. He worked a night shift (by shift, I mean 12 hours of intense labor starting at night) and the parents worked all day. The two other kids went to school.
I was too young to go to school, so I stayed in the apartment when my mom decided to leave me there. Well, I apparently was very destructive, and I got into the parents’ belongings, and destroyed a crystal clock while my uncle was out drinking. My uncle was an aggressive person, so he berated me and put me in a closet for punishment.
The next day after his shift, he came home with a small dog cage/kennel and said he would leave me there so I didn’t destroy anything. I was like ok as long as I got some toys. He did this almost every night I was left there; the family didn’t care, so he just kept doing it. He started leaving me there for the day and that’s when I started getting very antsy.
He was literally just mashing food through the cage grate at that point. When I told my mom something to the effect of, ‘Cage bad,’ she grew suspicious. She found the cage and also I had soiled it several times and it was filthy. My dad beat the everliving crap out of my uncle and he was never allowed to see me again.
Somehow it didn’t traumatize me. I actually enjoyed it at times. It was like the comfort of a crib.
My parents later told me that they reported my uncle, but the police instead investigated my parents for some other People’s Republic nonsense. So we went to Thailand before we finally left for America.”
She Got Her Dying Wish
“I met my mother’s father when he was on his death bed.
My mom took us to meet him (I was 10) because he had begged her to meet his grandchildren before he died. We met him, he gave us some stuff around his house, but my mother would SCREAM at us if we came within five feet of him.
This wasn’t normal; my mother never screamed at us. She told us that he had a disease we could catch and we would die. After he died, my mom cried for three days. When I was 17, I asked my mom what disease he had that she was so worried about us catching and she told me that he died from lung cancer. She told me that her father had violated her for years when she was a child and that the only reason we went to see him was because she wanted to watch him die. And that she cried for three days out of happiness that he had finally died. She also admitted that a week after his funeral, she and my dad went back to his grave, destroyed his headstone, and urinated on his grave.
She didn’t think he deserved to have a name, even in death. And I can’t say I disagree. So I guess hanging out for a day and a half with a creep was the most horrifying thing that happened that I had no clue about. Luckily, my mother grew up to be a wonderful mother. They say some people that grew up being abused end up abusing their own children.
My mother did the exact opposite. She dedicated her life to making ours better.”
Hide And Go Seek, But With A Twist
“My dad was in the military and took me to work one day when I was 5. He was in his late 20s at the time and worked as base police.
After a while, he had to do something at work, so he left me in this lobby area with this younger lady who was supposed to watch me (who was also dressed in camo like my dad). I wandered away and went into a warehouse that seemed empty. I thought I found a green treasure chest so I opened it to find that it was filled with weapons. I picked one up because I thought it was a toy (a heavy one) and turned around.
The young woman darted from one place to another, towards me. She seemed happy and told me she was playing hide and seek, and then walked up and took it and said some things I don’t quite remember exactly (she said this was a game, because I thought it was anyway). She closed the treasure chest and took me back to the lobby.
Looking back on it, my dad never mentioned this. Likely because the lady who was watching me wasn’t paying attention when I wandered into an off-limits area and played with an actual weapon.”
There Was Always Something Weird About That Relationship
“My best friend growing up got a new stepdad in the sixth grade. This was following a long absence from her mom and some other stuff kids shouldn’t deal with, so she was vulnerable and desperate for attention. That’s when my friend started to get really close to her new stepdad.
My friend would sit on his lap, text him 24/7, and he would hold her and play with her in flirting way (didn’t realize it was flirty back then), ‘spank’ her even, and just all around give her so much attention. He would also play video games in this tiny dark closet under the stairs, and she would be in there sitting in his lap at 13 years old while he played. He would even ‘reposition’ her sometimes when she was sitting on him, which I didn’t understand at the time. They were so close and she would even leave me to hang out with him when I came over. I never really liked him, he always rubbed me the wrong way, but I didn’t think anything of it. I just thought of him as a dad, and in my innocent head, dad’s didn’t do bad things to their kids.
Her dad and stepmom were super suspicious about something going on. They started asking me and our other friends questions. My parents even started asking me about it. But she swore to us nothing was happening, so that’s what I believed and told them.
Then in the 10th grade, it came out that he tried to solicit another one of our friends online. That girl told her parents, who reported it to the police. He was arrested and went to prison for a few years. My friend’s mom divorced him. End of story, or so we thought.
A few years later, my mom told me that she talked to my friend’s stepmom (we lost touch), and it turns out, he had been assaulting my friend the whole time, from 13 years old on. Even after he got out of prison, he continued to abuse her, which was into her early 20s. She was pretty messed up at this point and into hard stuff. But she finally told her dad and reported it to the police after 12 years of abuse.
I’m happy to say she seems to be okay now after a rocky road. I don’t know if he ever went back to prison for what he did to her, but she did report it.
I was mortified that I never put it together. Looking back now, there was so much I witnessed between them that as an adult I know wasn’t right. So many red flags. So many signs of a abuse on his part. He was a real creep. I will probably always feel guilty about not realizing what was going on right in front of me.”
He Went To His Friend’s House But He Was Nowhere To Be Found
“When I was around 5 or 6, I had a friend named Jimmy who lived a couple houses down from me, there was also an older couple (probably 70s) whose cat had kittens.
One day, Jimmy and I decided to go play with the cats. The wife wasn’t home, but the old man asked if we wanted some grape juice. We said yeah and so he got it out of this barrel type thing in his shed and put it in one of those medium sized Dixie cups. I didn’t like the way it tasted and the old man said, ‘It’s homemade grape juice.’
I wanted to leave, so I asked Jimmy to leave but he said he was going to stay.
I don’t know how long after, maybe a week or two, I went over to see if Jimmy could play and a someone different from his mom answered and said they didn’t live there anymore. It dawned on me about 10 years ago what must’ve happened. That old man got Jimmy wasted and I don’t want to speculate any further.
I’m sorry for just leaving him there and I wish I had told my parents.”
She Didn’t Win Any “Mom Of The Year” Awards
“I didn’t realize until a few years ago that my mom never made any effort to provide school lunches for my sister and I. My dad worked long hours, trying to keep his business running. My mom did accounting work for him, but had the ability to work from home, and make her own hours. Yet, I was often going to school without a lunch of any sort. And God forbid my dad do the grocery shopping; he was just incapable according to her.
She still touts herself as a selfless mom who worked hard to provide for her kids. She made sure we went to all our dance classes, and made costumes to help pay for competitions and what not. But we didn’t eat a lot of the time. My dad made our breakfast most mornings before he went to work. Dinner was a microwave meal between dance classes.
In reality, my dad worked from morning to night, plus weekends, to keep a roof over our heads. He even volunteered what little spare time he did have to do handy man work around the dance studio to help pay for classes. My mom spent much of her time complaining, finding every excuse to yell about how hard her life was. When my parents split, my mom kept us from him, then relied on us to help pay the bills.
My mom is a terrible person. My dad is immature at times, but he loves his kids and he works very hard. He does everything he can for us. He let me live with him and his current partner, an amazing woman I adore, in their basement suite rent free for a year so I could get back on my feet. I never had to worry about meals, because he always made sure I had a full pantry and fridge. I’m so happy I have a good relationship with him now. And I’m happy he has a partner who loves him and respects him.”
She Thought This Was “Normal”
“My family constantly ‘jokingly’ told me I was fat and had ‘pet names’ for me like ’10-Ton Tessy.’ My sister (the only one still living) still tells me I’m fat all the time. I thought that was normal until I heard a podcast last month about how a serial killer had been told she was fat all the time by her family and that the abuse had caused her psychological damage. Hearing someone refer to an experience like mine as abuse was a hammer blow. I thought it was normal.
I’m not (and wasn’t) fat at all, by the way, but I sure feel it and have low self-esteem. I would never call my daughter fat or tell her to eat less. I’m cross that they did it. My mom and grandparents are all dead, so I can’t even rebuke them.
Similarly, my mother and stepfather were heavy drinkers who neglected my sister and I, but I didn’t realize this until I had counseling for something else and it sort of snapped me out of my denial. I thought I just had a lot of freedom growing up.
Denial is a really powerful thing, and I still habitually deny and question innocuous facts and occurrences.”
Why Would His Aunt Be So Upset About A Dead Pet
“I didn’t realize that one of my friends died when I was around 6 or 7 years old.
When I was a kid, I’d often visit my aunt and play with my cousins and the kids from the neighborhood. There was a little kid around my age. My aunt called him Tadpole (Sapito) and I called him Toad (Sapo).
When I wasn’t there (he was with his mom), he was wandering around and playing as kids often do. He found a barrel full of water. I’m not sure how it happened, but he fell in and couldn’t get back out and drowned.
The next time I visited my aunt, she was sad and said that her Tadpole died. I just thought she’d gotten a pet that passed away. It wasn’t until a long time later that it clicked that I never saw Toad after that.
One day, I asked my parents and they confirmed that he had died.”
As If The Abuse As A Child Wasn’t Bad Enough
“After being abused at 8, my behavior changed and my family gave me up to social services. I blamed myself for being in care for 20+ years and I’m only now realizing exactly what happened.
The whole reason I was abused, in the first place, was because my family weren’t there for me and I felt an outsider from a young age.
I was an accident and my mom only married my dad because she was from a religious family and didn’t want to have a child outside of marriage. My dad left soon after I was born and my mom went back to work really quickly. So I was just passed from one grandparent to the next for my first few years. Then my mom married another man who took us abroad where I had only those two for company. We moved house, around Europe, once per year and I had no opportunity to make friends.
While we were living abroad, I was abused in the forest near my home but didn’t tell anyone for 12 years. Seven months later, we returned back to my home country but I wasn’t the same. I was very low and very lonely. I would do strange things like set up board games in the garden and expect children to arrive because I had no idea how to meet other children. I went to school and went off the rails. During this time, my mom had a few miscarriages and was falling into a depression, which became just another reason why she wasn’t there for me. I started behaving really badly at school and nobody asked why.
I was taken into care at 9 and nobody told me I’d never live at home again. I developed an eating disorder from the stress of it all and went from one residential school to the next until I was 18. I would still go back home again but after being taken into care, I felt no connection to home. I only grew more and more distant from my family because I felt rejected by them. I begged my mom to take me home but she didn’t. By age 11, my mom was on medication and I had a half-brother. I saw my mom and step dad every few weeks, but things were never the same.
It wasn’t until very very recently that I realized that my mom just wasn’t emotionally or mentally prepared to have children. That she was never there for me because she never dealt with her own issues. Rather than work on being there for me, she worked on covering everything up so that the world thought that she wasn’t a bad mother.”
Well, Their Mom Actually Was Sick
“My parents divorced when I was 9. I was always under the impression that my dad left because he didn’t want to look after my mom anymore. She had brain surgery that lead to brain damage, seizures, change in personality, and physical disabilities. Once he left, we didn’t see him again for years.
I only found out recently that mom was actually addicted to pain medication (understandably in her case, don’t get me wrong) and my dad had told her, after having to admit her to hospital after she was coughing up blood, that he wouldn’t enable her anymore and she needed to get proper help. She told him to leave and never come back – the next day, he went to work and she never let him back in. She would bar him from seeing us and lie about why he wasn’t coming around.
A few years later, he was taking us every second weekend regularly – also around the time they legally divorced, so I’m assuming that’s when the custody arrangements went through.
There were so many things that happened that make sense now I know she was addicted.”
So That’s Why Dad Wasn’t Around
“I watched my father hold my mom with a weapon to her head when I was 3 years old. I remember my mom crying and asking my dad not to hurt her in front of me and my brother. I remember telling my dad, ‘Don’t hurt my mommy.’ He started to cry and left the room. A few minutes later, my dad left in a cop car and my brother, my mom, and I went to stay with my grandma for a few weeks. Then dad was back and all was back to normal.
When I was 16, and my parents divorced, I found out my dad had a mental breakdown due to PTSD. He was going to kill my mom, not knowing who she was, and held her captive for a few hours before he finally released her. Seeing my brother and me and hearing us kind of snapped him out of it.
He spent a month in a psych ward, and then a few weeks in outpatient therapy.”
She Finally Discovered The Source Of Her Misery
“I was bullied by an anti-vaxxer growing up. She didn’t like autistic people and she really didn’t like there being one (me) in the same class as her daughter. I got taken out of lessons for social skills lessons and help learning my first language. She saw it as a major waste of funding and didn’t want me there.
She spread lies and rumors about the severity of my disability and my ‘bad behavior’ to other parents. I stopped receiving birthday invites and Christmas cards before I turned 7, and most of the class didn’t show up for that birthday either.
She also regularly spat at me in front of her daughter and encouraged her daughter to bully me, who then encouraged all her friends, which eventually escalated into her daughter deliberately humiliating an autistic peer in high-school by refusing to give her a Secret Santa gift and openly admitting that her being autistic was the reason why. Her poor daughter was treated even worse than dog muck by the entire community for several months for following her mom’s dogma and got a major life lesson out of it.
I didn’t learn how messed up it was until I was 18, when I realized there was no way a class of school kids would or should know any of the stuff they were spewing at such a young age. Most people I asked about it pointed to her and a few other parents, and remain completely disgusted by it.”