Kids everywhere tend to be optimistic and oblivious to the world around them. It can get quite concerning to think of the situations they're getting into, especially when they don't even know what's going on. Years down the line they might realize what the seriousness of what was happening, and it's shocking to think how many 'close calls' there were. Some might be funny while others are heartbreaking.
We wanted to know more about when people realized what was going on during those 'off' moments. We decided to look throughout Reddit and found the most insane stories about when people realized what was going on when they were kids. This content was edited for clarity.
"I would visit my uncle in a highly secure mental facility. All I knew, since I was just 6 years old, was that we'd stop at this big place with a lot of doors, meet him in the garden and he'd save me the Sunday cartoons out of the Sunday Times paper, and he'd make me woodwork things. A few years ago, I learned he had paranoid schizophrenia, and learned from my younger cousins (not the children of this uncle but his sister) that he had killed our great aunt during a bout of psychosis and ended up at the unit. He always was an awesome uncle and it's crummy how badly mental illness can affect people. He passed away last year and I miss him a lot."
"When I was 8, I had a lot of doctor visits. I remember getting my blood taken a lot and getting some scans at a hospital that gave me a Gameboy for free, but I didn't think it was a big deal. I remember my parents taking me to NYC. I grew up 40 minutes from there so it wasn't a big deal to travel there. I sat in an office for a while and then my parents took me around the city for what was a fun trip. But all this while, my parents seemed off. We were doing fun stuff, but they didn't seem to be having fun. Then all of a sudden, I started getting gifts from relatives and the doctor visits stopped.
I asked my parents a couple years later what it was about. I had a negative reaction to my epilepsy medication and it made the iron in my blood drop to an alarming level, but it wasn't a reported side effect of the medication. So, the doctors told my parents it was cancer. That's why they took the blood. The hospital I went to was a juvenile cancer facility, that's why they gave out Gameboys. The trip to NYC was to get a second opinion from a specialist.
Right before they were gonna put me on chemo, my doctor told my parents to wait and take me off my medication (it stopped me from having seizures so they didn't want to take me off it initially). My iron count popped back up to normal and that's when the gifts came in from my family. My mom said the hardest things she's ever had to do was when she saw the kids going through treatment at the children's hospital and realized that was my future but couldn't break down in front of me. A lot of strength on their part. My parents kept what was really happening from me to keep me from being scared, which ended up being good because I didn't actually have cancer."
"My mom and my grandpa (her father) were getting into a screaming match in his driveway when I was 5. I remember I was allowed to visit grampy, but only if other adults were there, and this particular day he asked me to have a sleepover and I really wanted to go. My mom stiffened up, stood in front of me and screamed: 'You'll get my daughter over my dead body!'
That was the last time I saw him. He sent back all the Christmas and birthday gifts my brother and I had ever sent him, and it broke my heart because he kept a relationship with all of our cousins until they hit their teenage years. It wasn't until about 10 years later that my mom finally explained to me that he had assaulted one of my aunts through her entire childhood, and although he swore he'd changed when his grandkids were born, she still didn't trust him.
Turned out he was also taking advantage of and abusing my older cousin (the only one who was ever allowed to be alone with him and NOT the daughter of my aunt who'd been attacked. Although when my cousin expressed what was happening to her mother, her mother said he used to hurt her too and that if she survived it, so should my cousin). He passed away last year, and when he learned he was dying, he reached out to everyone (his 6 kids and 20+ grandkids). My mom went and got the closure she felt she needed from him, but I refused. I said he had 20 years to try to prove he wasn't a sicko perv anymore and I wasn't running to his deathbed because he was scared of whatever afterlife he was facing.
My mom is my absolute best friend. If she had been dumb enough to make a different choice that day for the 'sleepover' I don't know that we'd have the relationship that we enjoy.
My grandfather was also extremely physically abusive to his other children, my mom getting the grunt of it for the girls in the physical aspect. She was always terrified of him, so the way she puffed out and stood up to him to protect her baby still makes me tear up. It taught me how to fight for my own kids and not take any chances when it comes to their safety and well-being."
"One time when my twin brother and I were about 2 years old, my Dad decided to take us on vacation. We went to a motel in the sketchy part of town and he taught us how to jump on the beds. That's all I remembered. Years later, Mom told us the story from her point of view: Dad had kidnapped us while inebriated. He hadn't told Mom that we were going anywhere, he had just up and took us. She called the cops and everything, but since they were technically still married, it was a 'civil matter.' And why did he do this? My mom took a bunch of speed. In her words, 'Because it's hard to keep up with twins!'
My mom was not the most reliable narrator out there, my dad did spend large portions of my childhood hammered, and both parents have passed away, so I'm not sure I'll ever find out."
"I was in elementary school and made a new friend. He invited me to his house one day after school. His house had a kind of rumpus room in the basement and we were mucking around playing some harmless game with his younger brother when he randomly asked me if I wanted to see something. I said ok, so the friend sent his younger brother to fetch a bottle of orange juice.
The brother returned with juice and proceeded to drop his trousers. My friend told me that 'it's better with the juice' and started sucking on his brother's flaccid junk. They then swapped roles and asked if I want to try. I said no thanks.
I didn't really think much of it because we were too young to know what it meant, as we hadn't learned about it yet. We were all pre-pubescent.
That night I had a family dinner. My uncle and grandmother came around especially. They asked about my day and I told them about 'play time' at my friend's house as if it was completely normal.
Now that I think about it, I remembered the whole table going silent as I told my story, which was something that hardly ever happened. I also remember being told I was right not to join in. I assumed it was because it was not hygienic or something.
I never went back to that friend's house."
"A kid transferred into my 2nd-grade class. He had a hard time making friends, but I found him tolerable plus I was a bit of an outsider myself, so he latched on to me. Nice kid, very friendly and eager to please, always super excited to try anything new and fun, but also a bit overbearing and often very physical. He would tell stories of his parents drinking and fighting, but usually in a joking way like he was trying to make it into a funny anecdote. Once he tried to give me $10 to buy him a birthday present. Said he'd never got a birthday present before and would really like to just once. I initially refused because I was weirded out, but told my mom about it later on, and she took me to the toy store and we bought him a set of hot wheels cars or something. When I gave it to him, he completely lost it - started bawling from happiness and basically tackle-hugged me to the ground.
In third grade, he seemed really down one day. He said he might have to leave school and go live with his grandparents because his mom had hit his dad in the head with a frying pan and they couldn't live in their house anymore. Sure enough, a few days later he was gone and never came back.
I didn't really realize the significance of any of this at the time but had a bit of an 'oh no' moment when I randomly remembered him 15 years later."
"So when I was eight or nine, I won Kings tickets in a school raffle. My dad couldn't go for reasons I don't remember, and mom's about as anti-sports as you can get. So I took my uncle, who's a bit into sports but mostly wanted to be in a private suite and suck down stadium food because there was a certain amount allotted to us and we both liked stadium food. So he took me to the box and there was this couple there who were probably in their 20's. They're kinda quiet and make some small talk with my uncle. Then he headed out to get some snacks.
The couple slid over to me. I was at that 'blushy-shy-kid' age and the woman was rather attractive. Somehow she asked what I would do if she kissed me, then bet me to let her. She kissed me and I turned that kind of red you only see on stop signs. They had a huge laugh about that which of course only made me blush harder and get a lot more self-conscious. She started talking about doing it again and I did that little kid thing where I shook my head and crawled down into my seat. She kept calling me cute and then they said something about me going somewhere else with them. And my uncle came back with the stadium food and they went back to their side of the box. I was too embarrassed to say anything and then I was given stadium food so I never gave it a second thought.
Then in my 20's, when somehow that memory surfaced, I went, 'WAIT, WHAT THE HECK.'"
"I had taken a nap at my friend's place and when I woke up, she wasn't in the room. I went looking for her and found her with her dad together in his room. I was confused, so her dad told me to go to her grandma's house (they lived on the same property different houses) because she had made cookies. So, I left them. It wasn't until later I realized it. Also, her relationship with her uncle was weird too. Only he attempted to kiss me (New Years) and then had her tease me because I wouldn't do it. She then told me stories of how her other friend would have kissed him and she had before. I just knew I was 12 and didn't want to get kissed by anyone let alone someone's uncle.
To be perfectly honest, I don't know what happened to either of the men, but I doubt anything was done. Her mother wasn't always there because of mental illness, and since her father would leave for long stretches, the mom would always be excited to see him.
My childhood friend, on the other hand, hasn't done well at all. She had a mental break and tried to kill me. I obviously didn't hang around much after that because of obvious reasons. She's had a few kids that were taken by the state, her mom told my mom about it because she was upset that the state would do such a thing. I know she had another mental break because she called the telenurses that I worked with and I ended up having a flashback. As of last week, I know she still lives in my hometown because my sister saw her and she just stared at my sister. When I go back home to see my family, I don't really leave our area because I can't run into her again.
It's a depressing situation. It wasn't until I was older I understood that dynamic in that household. I think she'd have done better if she had been able to escape that."
"We were in Florida for vacation when I was 5, so about 1999. We were driving down some highway and it was pouring rain and it was very hard to see. Next thing I knew, my parents were freaking out and I had always thought it was because of the storm. Last month, my mom told me what really happened: a semi truck came the opposite direction had slid across the median and hit a car that was behind us head-on, killing both occupants in the car."
"Every single day, when my dad would pick me up from school, we'd stop at a convenience store and he'd buy a 12 pack. He'd drink at least two of them as he drove us home. I remember being absolutely FLOORED when I found out years later that drinking and driving was illegal."
"When I was younger, my parents would hire my aunt's best friend Priscilla to stay with my brother and me when they went away for a while. Priscilla's grandson Jon lived with her, and my brother and I couldn't stand him. He was my brother's age but would poop his pants and refuse to be changed; he always got his way with Priscilla; and he'd tell us weird stories, like one where his father was an angel who hunted bad people.
Years later, I learned that Jon's mom, Priscilla's daughter, was murdered by Jon's father. Jon's father also killed his wife's twin sister, Priscilla's other child. Jon was present and about eighteen months old. Allegedly his aunt told him to hide; Jon's dad found him and carried him around the home for a bit after the murders.
Jon's dad ran away after committing the murders and they found Jon in a dog house the next morning. He'd slept with the neighbor's dog. A while later, they found the dad's body (he committed suicide) but for a while, there was trouble determining the identity, so Priscilla thought he might still be out there.
Some people don't get a fair start in life. My aunt reckons that Jon should have gone to live with his father's parents. Priscilla had a disgusting pig of a boyfriend while Jon was growing up and she'd also take him to psychics, who said Jon's dad was burning down under. I don't think he received the help and the support he needed."
"When I was 13 my best friend, who was also 13, got a boyfriend. The thing is, this boyfriend was 46 years old. She used to tell me about all the times they got down and dirty and to not tell anybody about her boyfriend because they could get in trouble. She claimed she was in love with him. Eventually, I was introduced to him in a public setting, they didn't show affection so things seemed okay. Looking back, they didn't show affection as to not raise suspicion, especially since her dad was around.
Later on, she made a plan to say she was spending the night at my house, and I at hers, so this boyfriend could come pick us up and bring us to his apartment. He got us hammered while we played video games. My friend started to take off her clothes and I followed suit for some reason. I was totally comfortable being unclothed with her as she was how I discovered I was into girls. Eventually, we were both unclothed and he started to take pictures and videos of us, he said he wasn't, but even then I knew he was. I remember us three fooling around, basically going as far as you can without penetration. Being so young and discovering our bodies still, I didn't really feel wrong or as if something was off. But now, looking back, he was definitely a huge pedo and there could be pictures and videos of my 13-year-old self out there.
I stopped being friends with her soon after this. It wasn't the first time something like that happened with her, but it was the last."
"When I was about five, I was at the local BMX track in my tiny hometown that had about 6,000 people in it. We heard a commotion and stopped on top of one of the banks and saw these two guys tumble out of the house across the street in a fight. One of the guys got knocked to the ground and the other guy picked up this huge rock bigger than a sofa cushion from the garden bed in the front yard and smashed it into the head of the guy on the ground, then he took a big jump and brought his feet crashing down on the guys head.
The guy on the ground never moved after that. I remembered the ambulances arrived along with the police and a few cops asked us, a group of kids, a bunch of questions and they called our parents to come and get us.
I didn't realize it at the time, but I witnessed a homicide."
"When I was in kindergarten, we were having a safety drill where we had to all hide in a corner. Our teacher said that if we had to do something like this for real, then there would be people coming through the building with weapons and that they were trying to get an animal out of the building. Years later, I saw on the news a story about a school shooting. They interviewed a little kid and he said something about how they had animals in the building and people had to come in and get it out.
My view of reality was shattered."
"My grandparents' chauffeur would do this 'dance' while looking at me and kept trying to get me to join in. My nanny would get freaked out and yell at him to stop, but she never told me what's wrong with it and I kept wondering why she was so mean to a guy who's always so nice to me.
When I turned 16, I saw people grinding on the dance floor and it finally clicked. The guy was humping things while looking at me.
I can't remember what happened to him but he was gone eventually. When he left, I was still in kindergarten. My parents never knew, because my nanny never told them and I didn't think it was a big deal.
It's Indonesia, so it's a bit different here. My guess is she didn't want to get a friend in trouble. Someone from my friend's church had a chauffeur who assaulted their daughter daily and the nanny was apparently a witness. She never told either. Everyone tells me Indonesia is a great place to live in because there's cheap labor and you can get really pampered, but I personally have a hard time trusting strangers with my kids thanks to my experience. Many people grew up with great help and their nannies are like second parents though, so I know I'm being unreasonable but I can't get over the fear."
"For years growing up, I'd smell a certain incense that would remind me of my grandpa's house. It was more of a memory since we lost touch after my parents split when I was 4.
I was 20 when I realized that 'incense' smell was weed. Turned out my grandpa was/is a huge pothead (and a pain, but that's for a different story)."