One of the main symptom of the Engineer’s diagnosis is the impulse control problem. I’m not sure if it’s the executive function thing, the ADHD thing, or the possible ODD thing, but it’s a serious problem.
Impulse control – that part of our thought process that allows us to stop and think. To make a better choice. To decide that maybe this idea isn’t worth the consequences after all. The Engineer seems to lack that ability to stop and think.
Today was a perfect example. The kids were playing in the gated side yard (with latches on the gates) and I went inside to open the front door on our way to the playground. That’s it. Walk in, open door, walk out. Two minutes. Gated yard. Everyone safe, right?
When I got back outside the Destroyer was running to me and then back to the gate pointing and yelling “too!” (that means “me too!”) And I got that cold, sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that precedes utter panic.
I stood in front of our house with the Destroyer and looked in every direction: no kids to be seen. At first I thought they went around to the back to ride bikes again. Checked there. No kids.
Just as the panic started to set in, I heard yelling and saw two little figures burst around the corner of the next street, running at full blast and giggling. They stopped giggling when they saw my face.
Kids safe inside, discipline ensued (no playground, go to your rooms before I explode into full-blown scared-to-death mommy.)
In the Engineer’s world, it’s very simple. He thinks something, he does it. No second thoughts. No better judgement. No considering parental ire and consequences. He just does what he wants to do.
Sometimes that’s opening the latched gate and going exploring with his sister. Sometimes it’s running out into a parking lot or street. Or completely ignoring a parent’s command to “STOP!” as he runs away. Once it was pushing his sister down the stairs because he thought it would be funny.
When you combine that with a seeming inability to understand consequences it’s a very dangerous situation. He’s unpredictable because I never know what his brain will come up with. What he does today is completely different from what he may do tomorrow.
When someone tells you that you need to stop and think, be glad. Because you can do that. You can make better choices. You’re not locked in a body that betrays you at every turn, with a mind that can think up the worst choices imaginable.
I’ve had to learn survival skills. We rarely go places with inviting, dangerous opportunities. Like the university with the handy bench placed next to the railing on the third floor. Or the metro track with no barrier at all between the platform and the deadly electrified third rail. I can’t take the kids somewhere unless I’m feeling well enough to sprint after them. Because I will have to. At least once. Maybe more.
You know those movies where the hero is constantly evaluating his environment for an ambush? Well, that’s me. Only the ambush is the Engineer’s own making, and my challenge is to keep him alive.