No Hard Candy, No Showers

If you’re an adult who side-eyes every plastic bag that comes within so much of an arm’s distance to your face—suspicious that at any moment it could kill you like the demonic toddler in Pet Sematary—then you are not alone. You’re one of many who has been scarred by the traumatic, morbid warnings of our well-meaning, albeit neurotic parents who feared for our lives on a daily basis.

Of course they meant well. It’s basically been proven that kids are essentially always drunk despite chemical sobriety and therefore cannot be trusted when left to their own devices. Give a kid a pair of scissors and he or she will not only run, they’ll parkour off couches and do a whole lot of pointing with it still lodged firmly in hand. There’s a reason Ralphie wasn’t allowed to own that Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock—he’d shoot his eye out. (Even without weapon he managed to injure someone courtesy of a triple dog dare, a tongue and a flag pole.)

But what about the less likely disasters?

One of my friend’s mom used to give us two rules when she left us alone for a few hours: no hardy candy, no showers. You could choke on a butterscotch, or slip, fall, crack your head open and die in the shower. To this day I crunch my Werther’s immediately.

Another friend of mine was told that lying will turn your tongue black and make it fall off. She lied, ate a ton of back licorice, her tongue darkened from the coloring, and a full panic-bordering-hysteria ensued.

Charlotte was told to never go inside the refrigerator. I’ll let that one sink in a minute because why on earth would one CLIMB INTO A REFRIGERATOR? (Again, however, see: drunk toddler. Or hide & seek.) But her parents didn’t warn that she’d freeze to death (which is one of my own personal fears), but rather she would be locked inside there for good. As in, “We’re never opening this fridge up again, Charlotte.”

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Parents, guardians, and tigers who develop phantom pregnancies in order to milk baby piglets—they all love their young. And what may seem like a very real danger to them (pinecones, for example. I wasn’t allowed to play with them) may seem like a fantastic idea to us.

In the end, they are just looking out for our best interest.

And now let’s cogitate: what strange dangers did your parents warn you against? Or what reasonable ones did they have that you ignored? Did they scare the shit out of you? Did that fear last for life? Tell us! Tell us! We literally have nothing else to do except read your comments and jab pinecones into our ears.

–Amelia Diamond

Drunk baby image courtesy of this video, tongue-to-pole image via A Christmas Story.

  • JZRL

    There was definitely NO coca-cola allowed because it would immediately destroy my teeth, eroding them into mere stumps at the swish of a bottle. Plus the warning that dying my hair would certainly result in lifelong ugliness. To be fair, I’m quite pleased that my mother stopped me from getting crazy with a peroxide/henna/purple die bottle – my hair remains glossy and shiny to this day…

  • Morgan Braaten

    Ok, going off the refrigerator note – A few years ago I was babysitting a 5 year old who demanded a grilled cheese. I obliged. When I went to give it to him, he freaked out and decided he wanted spaghetti, instead. He ran around the kitchen, screaming like a maniac, then made a break for the freezer. He hopped in and shut the door, pulling it from the inside. “I’M NOT COMING OUT UNTIL YOU GIVE ME SPAGHETTI. IF I TURN INTO A POPSICLE YOU ARE SO FIRED.”

    Manipulative little genius, that one.

    • Amelia Diamond

      this is horrifying! and quite dexterous for a drunk person!

  • Lewis

    I was told once that if I turned off the bathroom light switch while my hands were still wet… An arm would come out of the light switch and grab me!

    One night I stood in the bathroom frozen still for what was probably about 20 minutes but felt like forever, convinced I was being watched by whatever was attached to the arm. I was in the dark also, because why risk The Arm at night?

  • dawn

    all my weirdo stuff revolves around feet – if i didn’t get out of the bathtub as it was draining, i was told told fish would swim up and chew my toes off..and then there was the dreaded sleeping with my socks on, whereupon my feet would fall off in the middle of the night if said socks were not removed. who says this stuff to kids?? oh, yeah..that would be my mom 🙂
    fyi, to this day, no matter how cold it is, no socks in bed!

  • Curvily NYC

    Ahahaha I love this! I was similarly warned against plastic bags, so one day when it was raining and my Grama said she’d just put a plastic bag over her head to run to the car, I nearly had a 4-year-old heart attack trying to stop her: “NO Grama! You can’t do that! You’ll DIE!!!!” Of course, she meant hold it over her head, not wrap it around her face, but that was too fine a point for me at the time.

  • Cass

    I think I’ve blocked out most of the strange dangers I was warned of as a child. I’m sure there were plenty though because as an adult I still get thrown off guard by some of the things my mother is concerned about.

    For instance, when I first started travelling to NY on business I haphazardly mentioned that I would go for a run in Central Park. It seemed like a completely logical thing to do to me, but you would have thought I had just told my mother I was going to base jump off the Empire State Bldg. Apparently the only stories of Central Park that make their way back to rural central IL are those of rape and murder, particularly of young female joggers.

    Then the first time I went to Paris, I was meeting a friend that was arriving a few hours later than me. When my mother figured out that I would be wandering the streets of Paris alone, her response: “You can’t do that!! WHAT ABOUT THE GYPSIES??!?!”.

    • Amelia Diamond

      is it possible that your mom is also my grandma??

    • alejandra

      OMG THE GYPSIES! LOL! I was told as a child that they would kidnap me and chop my fingers off. And I was also told that dragonflies would sew my mouth shut. As I am writing this I am realizing my parents are kind of messed up. lmao

  • Rebeka Osborne

    I was told I couldn’t put my hand out of the car window because it would DEFINITELY get chopped off by a passing car, and if I opened the car door while it was moving I would be sucked out. Also, that if I ate watermelon seeds I would grow one inside my stomach. Thanks mom and dad…!

    • Charlotte

      fingers out the car window were a big no-no from my parents as well. That’s why they make those safety locks!!

    • Marta

      I was told exactly the same!! I was also told that if I sucked on my thumb it would fall off, according to my mom… got to say it kinda worked.

  • norwegian

    While there were the lies I was told as a kid (moreso from my older cousins who loved to torture me), the craziness has not stopped. My mom is one of those people who emails those chain letters telling you new ways criminals are out to get you. While I usually laugh when I get them and delete them, I do have a tendency to look under my car as I walk up to it to make sure no one is under there ready to attack me. Thanks for the paranoia mom.

  • Whitney Colon

    My mother once told me not to take drinks from strangers… Which would be sound advice if not for the fact that she told me this before dropping my best friend and I off at the mall….

  • I don’t think I’ve ever fit in a freezer D:

  • Maria

    My dad would tell me that if I went to sleep without blow drying my hair, or even if I just didn’t blow dry my hair as soon as I got out of the shower, I would start bleeding from my eyes. Yup.

  • ana

    My mom would tell us that if we didn’t eat all kinds of food we would have sexual limitations. I now eat everything and anything!

  • Brittany de Carona

    My mom forever warned me that shiny red nail polish was the mark of a slut and that only whores drank from cans or bottles without a neat little straw to assist them. If it weren’t for the fact that I’d rather not stain my nails or teeth yellow anyway, I probably wouldn’t have listened to her, to be honest…

  • Samantha

    When I was little my mother told me that if I ate too much candy I would need surgery. Then when I asked what surgery, she said liposuction.

  • Sophie

    When I was 5 or 6, and I refused to clean up my room, my mom said that giant rats would come when I was sleeping and eat the toys. I asked if they could jump up in the bed. She said. Yes. I remember laying awake all night.

  • dem

    When I didn’t sleep, an old man would come, put me in a bag and get me to the dumpster *oh god why*

  • Becca Barton

    This one was more of an Oprah-induced fear, but I happened to walk into the room when I was really young as my mother was watching an Oprah special about a woman who had been morbidly obese, and for some reason they had decided to accompany her verbal account with horrifyingly graphic moving images of the inside of her intestines. As Oprah probed her further, she said something about Cheez-its and Goldfish, and although in retrospect I can see she was saying that eating unhealthfully made her fat, I directly associated Cheez-its and Goldfish with bloody, fatty intestines and avoided them like the plague for years after that, convinced that if I ate them my insides would look like those images. Imagine a childhood without the cheesy wonders of such childhood staples as Cheez-its and goldfish… I’m not saying Oprah ruined my childhood, but Oprah ruined my childhood.

  • Murph

    I was never allowed to use a slip-N-slide or to watch ‘All Dogs Go to Heaven.’ I’m 31, and I’ve still never done either…

  • Olivia

    I think the fridge thing could stem from stories like this – old fridges have those handles that lock and once inside a toddler would find it impossible to get out.

  • Brie

    No lie, when I was like 10 months old I crawled into the
    refrigerator and pulled the door closed.
    My parents couldn’t find me for hours.
    There was a search going on and everything. My mother had been cleaning the fridge out
    that morning and had left the door open and the thing unplugged so I just helped
    myself. Eventually my mother remembered
    that the fridge door had been open and they found me in there taking a nap. No moral to that story. Just felt like sharing.

  • Kait

    Fun(?) fact: my boyfriend either didn’t get the “don’t go in the fridge” memo or didn’t care. One day, while playing hide and seek, he decided an abandoned fridge on the side of the street was the PERFECT spot to hide…. except for the fact that you can’t escape once inside and he neeeearly suffocated until someone finally seeked him. Safe to say I, too, will be reminding future offspring to avoid refrigerators :]

  • Charlotte


  • Leandra Medine

    No nail polish til high school

  • MW

    My mother stopped me from shaving my legs above the knee when I started shaving…thank you, oh wise selfish one. I was also perpetually afraid of a big truck passing by and taking a limb with it when I was in the car. Not sure if my mom bestowed than one on me or if I heard it at a friend’s house. The no candy from strangers thing was a biggy. But mostly junk food. Beware of junk food.

  • belulopezchamba

    My parents are doctors. With that sentence only you can imagine all the things they’ve told me not to do in case of, but one that I clearly rember is not to touch the skin behind my ears because it had a “chip” that if you touched it, it could kill me. I realised that it was a lie when I was 17, yeah, no the brightesT kid on the block. BEST PARENTS EVAR.

  • Amanda perry

    My grandfather would tell me that sucking my thumb would cause my thumb to catalyst shrink and eventually dissolve like a lollipop. Addtionally he instilled the fear that making too many funny faces would one day make my face permently stay like that forever.

  • maes

    Not necessarily a scarring moment, but I would never eat onions because they made people cry and so my aunt told me they were vegetarian and fell from the sky. I still blame her for how gullible I am today

  • “If you drown in the swimming pool, don’t you come home howling!”

    (after I decided, at 10, I was going to spend the day at our local swimming pool, full stop. (couldn’t swim at that age but tried to learn)

  • Charlotte

    If you cross your eyes and then close them they will stick that way.

  • Alejandra

    21 and still not allowed to eat a banana before bedtime.. According to my mom I will wake up with a crooked mouth.

  • sarah

    late to this post, but hey…better than never?

    my mom has always told me that if i wear mismatching pajamas to sleep, i’ll have bad dreams.
    also, parents always told me as a kid that chocolate made ants. for the first 6 years of my life, i thought chocolate crumbs literally TURNED INTO ants.

    ^^^these are terrifying. it’s a wonder i survived childhood.