First of all, I’m warning you that I was a weird kid (surprising, right?).

I think it’s funny that some of my childhood experiences stuck with me only because they involve things that shocked and/or scared the tar outta me. I categorize such experiences as “things that scarred me for life,” because they affected me enough that I can still remember them vividly.

I’m sure everyone has a few memories like the following ten random things that scarred me for life, which by the way are in no particular order.

1. Return to oz

Are you a parent? Do you want to traumatize your young child? If so, show her this scene from Disney’s Return to Oz. I guarantee she will never be the same…

Ok so in retrospect, the Wheelers have no arms and legs so they really couldn’t do too much damage. But what the hell, Disney? Are you serious? At age seven I expected singing, chirping birds and unrealistic expectations of beauty, happiness and love from you. What I didn’t expect were mutants with terrifying tribal masks who maliciously chase cute little girls around. Let’s just say I saw this scene only once and that was enough for me to think the Wheelers were under my bed for the next three years of my life.

2. The wax museum

Speaking of terrifying things. Let’s take the family to the wax museum, and not just any wax museum, but the one in Amsterdam – complete with Hitler, Freddy Kruger and Satan. It’s sure to be a rousing good time for your four-year-old. I know I enjoyed crying my eyes out the entire time we were there.

(But honestly, who would expect a four-year-old to know who Hitler is?)

3.  Being peed on by a lion

Speaking of fun, let’s go to the zoo and check out the lions and the tigers and the bears (oh my). Ever notice those signs next to the lion cage that say Caution: Lion Sprays? Well, they’re there for a reason. I found this out at a very young age, and still have flashbacks to that fateful moment. Have you ever been peed on by a lion? Well I have. It was like a freaking fire hose (although the video below does not illustrate this point at all), and it’s not something I will soon forget.

4. My brother shooting rubber bands at me

To this day I freak out if you point a rubber band in my direction. Ugh, just thinking about it gives me the willies.

5. The German Santa

Holy hell! Do you know why German children behave themselves? Because if they don’t then St. Nicholas (Nick-oh-louse) and his pet demon Krampus will visit their house, throw them in a burlap sack, kidnap them to  the deepest woods and beat them to a pulp with sharpened sticks. Yet if they do behave themselves they receive a shoe full of goodies. This is how Germans celebrate Christmas.

In case you didn’t know I lived in Germany from age three to age six, and in that time my family adopted a few cultural traditions. Just like many German kinders, every December 6th my brother, sister and I put our little shoes out in hopes that St. Nicholas would visit. One year, however, my pre-school teacher decided she should teach us the true story of St. Nicholas (see above).

…and December 6th was never the same after that. Oh and that night I cried so hard about being kidnapped and beaten that I eventually puked all over the floor. Merry Christmas!

6. Getting “lost” in Disney World

That really sucked the magic out of the day, but I’m pretty sure I got an awesome Mickey stuffed animal out of it. ‘Nuff said.

7. Learning the real lyrics to “Freak Me”

We all have coming of age moments. For me, one of the most memorable was at age nine when I learned the real lyrics to the song Freak Me (if you don’t know the song, I added the video below for your reference). This was after I was running around the house singing, “Let me lift you up and down, till you say stop!”

Everyone laughed at me while my sister explained the real lyrics. It was the first time I blushed.

8. My Period, according to the Broadway cast of Annie

Speaking of growing up, I got to learn all about my period from the Broadway cast of Annie in the rousing movie Growing Up On Broadway. This was just what I wanted to watch after recess in fourth grade. Also I distinctly remember a scene where the girls got measured to ensure they didn’t outgrow their characters. All those who did were booted off the show. So while I was reeling about the prospect of the bleeding, the mood swings, and the acne, I also got the message loud and clear: getting taller means you’ll be kicked off Broadway so stay short as long as you can.

And that’s when I stopped growing.

9. My first (and only) Erector set

Wow! Erectors look so flippin’ sweet! I can build a fire truck that actually runs and lights up.

Oh, but what they forgot to tell you is you need a freaking engineering degree to put them together. I was a complete failure at the only toy I wanted for my birthday that year.

10. Saddam Hussein (pre-Grizzly Adams beard)

During the Gulf War (also during our Germany years) the military base on which I lived was on total lockdown. Among the many security modifications was a new lock with a doorbell/intercom thingy affixed to the front door of our condominium. I couldn’t reach the button, but normally my taller siblings pushed it for me. Except for the day when I ran ahead after school and found myself all alone and locked out. Of course I began bawling my eyes out as was my M.O. for many years. Finally a neighbor heard me, opened the door and asked why I was crying so hard. Between sobs I said, “Because I’m locked out and Saddam Hussein is gonna kidnap me.”

He was a jerk, that Saddam Hussein.

Woohoo. That’s the end of the list. No wonder I turned out like this, right? Now please share some of your awesome childhood-scarring-type-memories so we can all laugh at them.


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15 responses »

  1. Kevin B says:

    My most traumatic was when I watched IT (the Stephen King movie). Not only was the clown just down right terrifying, but the scene where he opened the shower drain and came through it. That about scared the living poop out of me. I didn’t shower for about 3 weeks. Thank god it was the summer and I could just go swim. Finally my parents caught wind of my not showering (pun intended), and I remember sitting in the shower crying for about 30 minutes. I still think about that scene to this day, and really don’t like open shower drains.

  2. Laura says:

    When I was 5 my mum was pregnant with my younger sister. I was TERRIFIED that the baby would be a boy because then I’d have to watch Dragon Ball Z.

    Funny thing is I ended up loving that show.

  3. LC says:

    I unknowingly woke up around 3:00am one morning and looked up at the window to see if it was light outside. It was still dark, but it looked as if someone had opened my window and pushed the curtain aside and was looking at me. I think I laid there for 20 minutes absolutely frozen in fear, too scared to get up, to scared to pull the covers over my face. Finally I worked up the nerve to run to my parents room and get in bed with my mommy. The next morning I made her go look and see what it was. Turns out my dad put a potted Hyacinthe in my window before going out of town and just hadn’t move the curtain to fully cover the window. I was scared of a flower. I felt like an idiot.

    My mom laughed at me.

    This was last April. Fight or flight? How about freeze?

  4. Laura says:

    When I was 5, my mum was pregnant with my little sister. I was terrified that the new baby would be a boy because I’d have to watch dragon ball Z.

    Funny thing is I ended up loving that show.

  5. daniel says:

    One time I was fighting with my brother Stewart when he yelled the classic, “I hate you! I wish you were dead! I wanna kill you!” Right then, my mom reached into the kitchen drawer and pulled out Cleaver she brought from Vietnam AS A REFUGEE. She then screamed, “You want to kill him! Then do it! I won’t tell anyone!”

    We were then sent to our room where laid crying in our bunks, commiserating over how crazy our Mom was/is.

  6. Mommy says:

    I remember St. Nicholas vividly. You were crying so hard in the bathtub and it went from bad to worse. The vomiting actually distracted you enough to settle down. BTW- We moved to Germany right after you turned 2.

    You told me you were never going to get your period and if you did, you’d stand on your head till it went away.

    Get Ben to build you an erector set.

    Thanks for making my day Pooh! Love you!

  7. Kate E. says:

    I watched some horror movie (I believe it was ‘Candyman’) when I was 3 on TV and couldn’t look into mirrors without my parents there for the next few years. I still have a mild discomfort with mirrors to this day.

  8. Kate says:

    Thanks for that Erin, I was laughing out loud in a coffee shop, getting some weird looks from those around me.

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