Executive Function

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Teenagers have an under developed prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that interrupts emotional responses and considers the potential effects before acting. Teenagers look enough adult-like we want to treat them as adults, but they also have yet to grow the brain into their bodies.

Toddlers DGAF. Stimulus-response. Galahad is having to deal with the consequences of lack of planning, thinking three moves ahead, and a toddler who makes him pay the consequences.

He was in a bad mood, but he came upstairs to make a showing of his displeasure. Fleur who adores him now has made him sit and watch the same annoying video (we all hate) over and over.

She sounds so happy.

He sounds grumpier. Well, until she has worn him down.

My hope is that experiences like this will help him grow into being more mindful.

The sweetest sound

Galahad disappeared downstairs. Fleur didn’t notice at first. But, when she did, she called his name. More of a questioning. Gaga? When that did not work it became a bit louder. Gaga! Well, then it was ON! She runs around checking and calling. When she realized he was not there, she went to the door to the stairs and screams at the top of her lungs: GAAAAGAAAAAA! over and over until he comes back.

There is also…

  • More, more Mama
  • More, more Nannie
  • More, more Gaga
  • More, more Dada

Head of household

As Fleur develops language skills, she puts them to very practical uses. She asks for snacks, articles of clothing, and people. Of late, though, that also entails directives. Orders.

Daddy, eat!
Daddy, sit!
Daddy, [throw this] away!

I fear our interactions with the ever listening Big Sister have encouraged this style of direction. The first directives were aimed at it. The “Meow” the cat. Then Galahad. Of late, that has included the parents.

Ah, well, at least she is getting me to eat my oatmeal in the morning.

Prima manducare

halloween candies

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Part of parenting seems to be to tasting foods given to our children. We get that taste in before it is put in front of the child. Call it a toll or tithe.

My wife still does it to Galahad before letting him have an interesting new drink or dish. Or one that she likes but did not get.

They argue about whether or not she took too much. She calls it a bite or sip. He calls it a mouthful or guzzle.

He also complains about her taking the best candy from his Halloween exploits.

Primarily, he is suffering from loss aversion. He envisioned having it. Only now Mama is taking it away from him and diminishing the value.

Student Handbook

book shelves book stack bookcase books

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Being a technocrat, if I have a question about school policy, then my instinct is two-pronged:

  1. find the document that explains it: the student handbook (K-12) or bulletin (university)
  2. find the data.

Naturally, not trusting a teenager to even know where his student handbook is located, I went to the web site. This one is terrible. It took me half an hour before I was satisfied I had found it.

Worse, the document reads as though it was written by an Ed.D. and a lawyer. It sought to define terms in legalese like governments do, such as what an infraction is, the severity levels, and the recourse the school administration will take. If the parents typically have a reading level of at least a bachelor’s degree or above, then I think this is fine. If the parents lacked upward mobility because historically this school system failed them, then they probably will struggle to understand these rules.

It makes me wonder if part of the reason the school system has such problems with discipline is due to parents and students not really understanding the expectations because the school is obscuring it from them. The students find out things are wrong after getting caught. Which makes things seem arbitrary.

Of course, parents have to report they understand the rules. How many actually do? I suspect not many teachers do.

They have their own classroom rules and probably only enforce the school ones when made to by the administration. Of course, this means navigating a random set of rules in each class plus another set outside them.

Being a Musician Is Good for the Brain

Highlights from an Inc article on the benefits of music on the brain caught my attention:

  1. Musical training reorganizes neuron structures in the brain, specifically the corpus callosum which integrates the two sides plus areas involving verbal memory, spatial reasoning, and literacy.
  2. It improves long-term memory, in part because it teaches the hippocampus how to store memories and recall them on demand.
  3. It improves executive function, things like processing and retaining information, controlling behavior, making decisions, and problem solving
  4. Musicians tend to be more mentally alert with faster reaction times.
  5. They tend to have better statistical use of multisensory information, so they are better able to integrate inputs from the various senses.
  6. The earlier a musician starts, the more drastic the changes.
  7. Music reduces stress and improves happiness.*
  8. Increases blood flow in the brain.

* Wonder if all this singing we do with Fleur plus Galahad’s piano practice is part of why she is a happy child? After all, we’ve been leveraging singing as a way to distract Miss Wriggly.

 

Provoking cognitive dissonance

Galahad takes music lessons which happen to be on the other side of town. I usually have the radio on and when something provocative is said, I turn it off to talk with him about it. I ask him questions to suss out what he thinks about it.

Somehow the topic for this drive home was pi. I explained that some mathematicians prefer tau instead and described what it is. He mentioned that the pi(e) meme-mification meant that it had staying power. However, I realized he was stuck on the concept of a pie as dessert.

So, to mess with his concept of pie, I asked what he thought was in shepherd’s pie. That frustrated him a little bit but not enough in my estimation, so I brought up a pizza pie. This deprived child. Had. No. Knowledge. Of. Dessert. Pizzas. He was stuck on the disgustingness of apples and marinara.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

12181634454_3fddcbb3c9_zFinally, he defended his concept of a pie as only pastries. So, I got him to look up just what is a pastry. He doesn’t look past the first one, which he read as:

a dough of flour and water, used as a base and covering in baked dishes [1]

He seizes on the lack of mentioning sweets in this to decide that many things are pastries that he never before considered:

  • calzones and strombolis
  • ravioli

He immediately texted his friends and was obsessed with this for the rest of the evening.

I am glad to help him work through trying to hold these conflicting thoughts at the same time and poke at him to think more deeply about them.

[1] The one I saw is:

a dough of flour, shortening, and water, used as a base and covering in baked dishes such as pies

I don’t remember him mentioning the shortening item. Or fats or anything similar that would indicate┬áhe knew what that is. I don’t think he knows enough about cooking to make the distinction. If he did, then he would know calzones and raviolis do not have a shortening ingredient in the dough. So, they are not actually pastries.

P.S. Next, I need to work on his research skills. He will love the Pop-Tarts are ravioli debate.