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.



That Little Thing Called Impulse Control
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2 thoughts on “That Little Thing Called Impulse Control

  • October 17, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Can totally relate to this! My 2e son is 9 now but when he was younger, we had no idea what “it” was to better understand (and explain) his impulsive behavior. (Didn’t have him assessed until school troubles aged 7). I could only describe him to others as “3 kids in 1”. He is the youngest of 3 and his siblings never had impulse issues like him so I didn’t know what to make of it. When he was 2, he took advantage of the one day when I would unlock the door (our house was like Alcatraz the rest of the year!)to let parents in to pick up their children from my older son’s bday sleepover. He bolted across the street, crawled up the neighbors deck/stairs and sat in their front foyer in less than 7 minutes that we realized he was missing! The following year, he did it again! This time, he ran to the neighbors house, opened their sliding door and let their dogs out (they were gone), took their iPhone, took off his wet jeans in their yard (which overlooked a small ravine!) then crossed back over the street to another neighbors house, knocked on the door and led himself in-within 10 minutes! They were stunned and so were we! I called the Sheriff and the family did too. We were reunited after 10 minutes of frantic searching, tears and almost vomiting. My husband and I were then lectured by the Officer on how to be better parents and keep our house child proofed and our kid under better supervision. Our life really turned upside down when we moved to Europe when 2e son was 4. I only lasted 6 months. Too much impulsivity to manage in a foreign land. There were narrow sidewalks, fast cars, silent trams, unknown rules, metro stations, foreign language and absolutely no help (or internet for 3 months!) I told my husband I really thought our son would get hit by a tram or bus because he never listened and always broke away from my grasp in public. He also (and still does) would take advantage of anytime I was slightly distracted to run off or get into something. It was rough! I did not make friends easily with the other parents because of it. They perceived it as a parenting issue and would freely “parent” my son for his interruption tendencies, defiance (he is ODD) etc. We were soon not invited to many social gatherings. Hang in there! You are doing an awesome thing for your curious little man. I totally understand your Twilight Zone of a world. It is mine everyday too:)

    • October 17, 2016 at 11:37 pm

      Twilight zone is a great description. People just don’t get it, do they? I wanted to laugh when reading your post, but I also wanted to cry. It’s tough living this way! Thank you for sharing your story 🙂


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