You can’t always trust what others say. You learn that as a child when all adults are literally worshiped because they are entirely relied upon for food, shelter, comfort and protection.
I trusted my Aunt Pete as a child but found it hard to believe when she told me that spoonful of medicine was going to make me feel better, when seconds later it felt like strawberry gasoline trickling down my throat. You blindly trust and believe your adults, your leaders and masters (aka family, baby-sitters and teachers) because they are the ones with all the knowledge.
And hey, they can drive AND cook. You may have never seen your dad harm another living thing, but if that goat you’re feeding out of your hand gets any ideas about chomping off a finger, you just KNOW he will make sure you are having goat for dinner.
But then little things happen to prove The Omnipotent Ones aren’t correct, and the wheels and gears in your head start spinning and next thing you know — in creeps Doubt.
The parents tell you to go to sleep “or the goblins will get you.” That one was an issue with me because seriously, the idea of the goblins “getting me” like that little orphan in the story kept me awake a lot longer than pretending to be cave exploring with the flashlight under the blankets would have. They tell you to brush your teeth or your teeth will fall out but clearly the mean dog next door never brushes and his teeth are white, sharp, and look like they may still be growing.
They give you commandments that instruct you not to worship or pray to anyone or anything other than God or you won’t make it to heaven but then they pray to all the statues revered in your church. They tell you to stay away from your cousin with the chicken pox but they are putting pink goo all over him with their bare hands. And obviously, cousin Robbie isn’t the one to steer clear of — it’s those dumb chickens they have squawking around their barn.
They tell you there’s a giant bunny that brings the candy and eggs every Easter (and what exactly does a rabbit have to do with eggs or candy or Jesus?). They tell you there is a ridiculously happy, giant elf that breaks into your house and brings presents while you sleep, and that a sneaky magic fairy that collects dead teeth comes RIGHT UP TO YOUR HEAD and reaches under your pillow to take a part of you and replace it with some money ... but you shouldn’t watch that scary movie about the shark because you might get bad dreams...
They tell you you have to eat your vegetables or you won’t grow — while at the same time you’ve never seen Aunt Sandy eat anything other than chips and sweets and she seems to get larger every single time you see her. They tell you things and you take it as accurate and it isn’t until later in life that your belief system changes. Your faith in them, in all adults for that matter, is forever changed.
You might wake up to find them stuffing candy canes into your stocking or filling the basket with jelly beans. Maybe like my oldest daughter, you catch your mom reaching for the tooth under your pillow and her excuse of “I was just making sure it was there,” doesn’t quite forgive the dollar bill in her other hand. Or, perhaps you overhear something you shouldn’t about where Uncle Arthur went that leads you to think he must not have gone to Disneyland because you know from experience that they don’t make you “bunk with a crazy marine” in a “brig.”
With whimsy gone and trust wavered, you begin looking at life a little more cautiously. You start questioning the people and the things in your world more thoroughly. You check with your peers and see what their experiences have unveiled. You ask other adults and see if things you’ve been taught as facts can be universally “adult verified.” And you begin to test your own theories to see if they can be proven. My youngest daughter, with a dab of autism to her list of disadvantages, has always tested my theories regularly and still does at 19, to the point I’m pretty sure she will never believe anything I say.
She wants to see for herself, on more than a couple occasions each, if: the stove really is hot after it isn’t glowing red, if the milk will fall off the table if you set it on the edge, if she really will get sick if she eats the entire bag of cookies at once, if the clothes will come out all pink if she puts the new red towel in the washing machine with the underwear and dials it to “hot,” and yes, if she stays up all night, she can prove to herself (and me wrong) that Santa really IS the one who puts the presents under the tree.