Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Neuroscience for beginners

The other day I stopped a kid from stomping on another kid's toy.

A friend of my son's had asked if he could leave the toy with me for safekeeping while he ran around on the playground. I solemnly agreed to watch it. So there it sat next to me on the concrete.

Until this other kid came along and reached for it. I told him who it belonged to and said he could ask the boy if he could play with it.

He immediately raised his foot and brought it down on the toy.

I reached out and grabbed his ankle, mid-stomp, and said, "That's not OK." (You ask me to watch your toy and I will watch it to the end, let me tell you.)

He took his foot back and ran off.

A couple days later I was talking to another mom about it. I said, "Why would you stomp on your friend's toy?" She said she thinks he might have impulse control problems.

She gave the following example. She was at a birthday party with her son; this particular child was there as well. The parents gave all the kids cupcakes, and as soon as he got his, he took it and smeared the bright green icing all over his face.

I was horrified.

Because you guys, all I could think was, oh my god, THE BUTTER. The butter on the guy's nose. 

Look. I save dessert for last. I wait to open presents. I don't grab or hit.

I don't carry a hammer around in case I get the urge to whack the car of the occasional asshole who speeds up to get through the crosswalk even though my entire family is already halfway across the road.

(I am sure it'd be be remarkably, if briefly, satisfying.)

But! Every once in a while I say or do something that would've been better not said or not done. Sometimes things fall out of my mouth or just kind of...happen without a pause for reflection.

The butter. The butter. On a stranger. There but for the grace of god went I without green icing smeared all over my face.

Are those impulse control issues?


  1. It's only an issue if someone you care about has a problem with it. I assume that you don't particularly care if that dude has a problem with butter on his nose. Therefore, there is no impulse control issue.

    1. Thank you for your assessment. I think must be right. If I'd been trying to impress him with my best behavior, I wouldn't have done it. Or if he'd been someone who had run with it, I would've found him hilarious. But as it was, it was entertainment for me.


Tell me about it.