As a child, I was the world’s most gullible kid. My favorite word was “why?”…and I believed everything.
My siblings loved it.
(If you have any older siblings worth their salt, you’ll know exactly what they said next.)
(I haven’t eaten a watermelon seed in 33 years.)
One time I asked my mom what would happen if you ate grass. She told me I’d turn into a cow.
I exploded into tears.
(Had I eaten grass that day?)
We may never know.
(Side note: That thing my mom is holding, kids, that’s called a “newspaper”. That’s what we had before smartphones, and our parents used them to line the cages of our pet dinosaurs.)
When she was babysitting us, my sister would regularly pretend to die.
It was horrible every time.
We weren’t allowed to stick our hands out the window because our great-uncle/cousin once removed had done that same thing and a truck had come by and taken his arm off and he lived the rest of his life without his arm.
This one might actually be true…(or not.)
One thing that got me every time was the “I’m Hungry!!!” response. Sometimes at night, I’d tell my parents I couldn’t go to sleep because I was too hungry. My dad had a zinger to this one.
DANG. He is smart!
So it turns out parents have been doing this sort of thing to kids for years.
In the middle of the 1800s, a book of morality tales for children was released.
It was called “Der Struwwelpeter,” which basically means “Unkempt Peter.” It was a collection of stories about children who do careless or bad things, and their untimely demises.
For example, Strewwelpeter–who lets his hair and nails grow too long–gets them sawed off.
I’ll let you guess what this story is about.
I’m not sure I want to know what this story is about.
The most famous of the stories was Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutsche. Or, “The Story of the Thumbsucker.”
This kid kept sucking his thumb even though his parents told him not to. One day he was walking along, minding his own business and sucking his thumb, when a tailor comes out of his shop and accidentally cuts the kid’s thumbs off.
Look at the expression on that guy.
That is not “accidental.”
I feel kinda bad for this kid, I totally relate to him. I was a thumbsucker as a child.
I’d suck my thumb everywhere.
In the grocery store
My parents were really worried. I was 4 and nearing the golden age of 5, when I’d go to kindergarten. So they did everything they could to get me to stop sucking my thumb.
They tried reasoning with me.
They tried warning me.
They tried bribing me.
None of this worked (I liked my thumb too much) and so they tried other methods.
For example, you can’t suck your thumb if your arm is in a pringles can. My mom would pin the can to my sleeves.
Somehow I’d work my arm out of the can, and I’d be sucking my thumb again with the pringles can sticking out from my shoulder.
There’s this stuff that looks a lot like nailpolish, except its for kids who suck their thumbs. You put it on and it tastes so horrible, the kid breaks the habit.
Except me. I realized that if I sucked my thumb long enough, that awful taste would go away and my thumb would be delicious again.
One morning, my dad (who legit knows everything) knew I’d fallen asleep sucking my thumb, again.
I guess he decided it was time for a Come To Jesus meeting.
And it would scar me for life.
Ok so by this time I was old enough to sort of realize that some things people said weren’t true. So I called his bluff.
But I wasn’t 100% sure.
I did keep sucking my thumb. But every time…I worried. Still, the black spot didn’t show up, so I figured I was all right.
UNTIL ONE MORNING
THE BLACK SPOT!! IT HAD APPEARED!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!
I was going to die.
I remember sobbing in my mother’s arms. It was a horrible day.
I remember my dad being there too, looking…kinda guilty.
Well folks, there is a happy ending to the story. My parents had literally scared the thumb outta me…and I stopped sucking my thumb.
They gave me a doll and I was ready for school.
(I recall graduating on to ravenous nailbiting, at this point.)
Years later, when I was in high school–yes, high school–I found out the truth.
That night, my dad had snuck into my room with a sharpie, and marked a black dot on my thumb.
Can you believe parents would do something like that??!?!?!??
Oh now. Let’s not be too hard on my parents. I mean, they did get me to stop sucking my thumb.
And also I’ve sued them for millions of dollars to pay for all my therapy bills.
To be fair…they weren’t the first-grader who tried to convince her classmates that she played Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.”
No no–not the play. Like, the actual 1939 movie.
I can’t believe they didn’t believe me!!
(Side note: The mental gymnastics I made to rationalize this were amazing. I remember thinking, “I don’t remember not playing her…so it could have been me!” I was such a good liar, even *I* believed myself!)