As children, we have so little concrete information about the world, and such a random collection of experience-based learning, that we construct oddly poetic worldviews and beliefs.
Some of these misconstructions of knowledge have their origin in semantic misunderstandings. Having been told repeatedly by our parents that we could be anything when we grew up, I decided at about age 4 that I would be the Pope. (We weren’t a Catholic family, and I had not the faintest idea of the Pope’s role; I just liked the hat.) Given the same sort of encouragement, my sister N. eagerly looked forward to becoming a circus bear.
Other childhood misconstructions are simple mechanisms for coping with common fears. Like many children, I believed a) that the night was filled with horrors, looming unseen in the dark, hungry for my innocent self; b) that keeping my head under the blankets protected me from these monsters. As an extension of this logic, and based on I-know-not what previous evidence, I further hypothesized that c) if I kept my head under the covers and held my breath for exactly sixty seconds, I was safe uncovered for the rest of the night. Although I cannot claim that my hypothesis was proven, it surely gained credibility as, night after night, no monsters attacked.
I had a strange fear that if I closed my eyes in the bathtub, William Shakespeare would come up through the drain and kill me. I knew his name, but I had no idea who he was, so I just naturally assumed he was some sort of bathtub vampire. —– Dan