Growing up is difficult. The world is a big scary place that generally makes little to no sense pretty much all of the time, yet we’re still expected to navigate our way through this mess with grace and aplomb. I can’t really manage to do this now, as an adult. As a child I had no chance. Also, I am an only child. So I had no fresh life lessons handed down to me by older siblings. I remained in the dark about some very basic things for far too long. So, I figured, why not humiliate myself on the internet for everyone see and out my childish ignorance? Here goes.
1. The pronunciation of the word ‘frown’
Let’s start small. As a child I read a lot. (I still do this). I didn’t speak a lot. I wasn’t a chatterbox or a loud mouth or a big blabby ball of raucous. I read a lot and I discovered new words that way. Problem is, reading doesn’t prepare you for how to pronounce these words when you get out into the big wide world and people are just waiting for you to trip up so they can mock you. I could never remember if ‘frown’ rhymed with ‘town’ or ‘own’. My first instinct was the latter. It was wrong. I was mocked. From then on I panicked whenever the word needed to be said aloud and could never quite remember which version was the correct one. Multiple instances of outraged side eye and gloating indignation have cured me of this. Thankfully.
2. The boys’ toilets
Back when I first started school I found myself constantly in gaggles of girl-only situations. Boys were the enemy. They could chase you, try to kiss you or throw things at you. Filthy creatures, the lot of them. One day we were all casually standing in a pint-sized mob admiring pigtails and plastic-y bracelets when intelligence reached us of an irregularity that had been spotted in the boys’ toilets. Those bastards had their own fountain! We were indignant; our feminist heckles raised. Even at the tender age of 5 or 6 we knew sexism when we saw it. Why did they get fancier toilets than us? Why were they entitled to quality interior design features when we had to pee in bland cubicles? This was discrimination, plain and simple. I even believe a couple of reconnaissance missions were set up to figure out the scope of the situation in the offending areas. I couldn’t take part in these, as I was a dedicated goody-two-shoes. But I still wanted to know what the hell was going on and when we could expect a fancy water feature to be erected in our bathrooms.
I’m not sure how long it took, but it finally came out that these ‘fountains’ were in fact urinals. Word got around that the boys needed to pee into them and could we please keep the fuck out of there while they did it. This explanation failed to appease me fully. I may not have had brothers but I had a father who managed perfectly well with the same lavatory that myself and my mother used. Why did these punks need special equipment? It wasn’t until I was much older and fully able to appreciate how disgusting boys toilets actually are that I truly believed that we weren’t getting the short end of the proverbial toilet brush.
3. The cat
I grew up watching a little comedy show called ALF. This taught me that even if you lived in a safe neighbourhood with minimal traffic and a kind, animal loving family, your cat was always in some kind of mortal danger. In that situation the danger was a furry, wise cracking alien life form who thought that cats were the tastiest of all the tasty treats.
I didn’t have an alien life form living with my family, wise cracking or otherwise. But I was sure, however, that my cat was just around the corner from life-ending calamity and I had to watch out for him. Number one on my list of things to worry about was his predilection for drinking from the toilet. I was terrified he would fall in. And if my cat fell in he wouldn’t just scream catty terror, spin around and bolt out of the damned house at high speed like any normal cat would do. No. My cat would really wedge himself in there. He might drown. Or fall down the pipe. Or get flushed by a non-vigilant family member who didn’t quite realise the situation at hand and how to deal with it appropriately.
I had to make sure that this didn’t happen and do everything in my power to ensure that the cat never got into the lavatory in the first place. This essentially boiled down to ensuring that the toilet door was always closed unless someone was actually walking through it. Not the most complicated of cat-based security plans. But, dammit, I was militant about it for quite a long time.
Basically, it’s amazing that I’ve made it through to adulthood relatively unscathed. Now I think about it, though, why don’t more toilets have water features like fountains? They would ensure that you always felt the need to pee while you were in there and the sound of water would also mask the sound of other people’s bodily functions. It’s really a winner of an idea…