Motor On

I listened to an interesting interview with Dee Joy Coulter (author of Original Mind: Unlocking Your Natural Brilliance) as part of the Simplicity Parenting Soul-of-Parenting Summit. In it she discussed what she called “The Four Switches” that infants must develop. The first, “Sensory Off,” is essentially how to calm one’s self. Infants take in all sorts of information through their senses and they have to learn how to filter it or turn it off, how to calm themselves. They then learn “Sensory On.” This skill is basically how to approach the sensory world to interact with others and the environment. Next they learn “Motor On,” how to move, how to act and do. Finally, they must learn “Motor Off,” how to stop doing, how to control their impulses and appreciate delayed gratification.

I can see, or have seen, the development of these switches in my fifteen-month-old son. What is additionally interesting to me, however, is the idea that we all keep using these switches. As adults, we still must calm ourselves, interact with others, do things, and stop ourselves from doing things. An intriguing point Coulter made was that as individuals we often struggle with one or more of these switches in particular. She used herself as an example, that she struggles with “Motor On.” She can think about planting flowers or baking bread fifteen times before she actually manages to get up and do it.

And I thought, “That is ME!”

I do that. I think about what I could do, what I should do, what I want to do, what I need to do, and by the time I’m done with all of that thinking, there’s no time to actually do anything. My poor husband. I don’t think he knew when we married that I have difficulty with “Motor On.” I think sometimes I confound him with my lists of things to do and my piles of things to do. Why don’t I just do them? “It’s my ‘Motor On’ switch, Honey. It’s faulty.”

I hope for my son that he has more of his father’s circuitry in this regard. I hope that he’s a doer.


7 thoughts on “Motor On

  1. I have a wrench. I’m sure if we tighten here and loosen there we can get that switch working properly.

    In all seriousness, though, you’re a thinker. There is merit to thoroughly thinking things through (ah, alliteration!). I often just do things with little thought, relying on my instincts and probably inadequate understanding to see me through. For instance, that step stool I made for Liam. I didn’t think it through and ended up cutting pieces incorrectly several times. If you look on the side, you’ll notice that there are saw marks at the corners- not good carpentry! I’d planned to turn those all inward, but the way I cut the wood didn’t cooperate with my plan. So, I cut again. And again, screwed it up. Then, I was out of wood so had to make due. Honestly, it’s a pretty shoddy bit of construction and if I’d spent some time thinking it through I wouldn’t have had those issues. Well, and a jigsaw…

    That reminds me, I need to add some feet to that thing still. And finish painting it with his name and dinosaurs all over it…

    I’m hoping Liam gets just as much from me as he does from you: a thinker and a doer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I laughed out loud at this post. You write really well, and have great humor. I think I might be missing the “Motor Off” switch, especially where going to bed at night is concerned. Oh, and on my mouth. (:


  3. I was going to post a reply to each of the articles (I don’t know why, but I can’t quite bring myself to call them ‘stories’) I’ve read but decided, instead to write a “bulk” reply, Each of these posts — Toys, Motor On & Roots — touched me, each in a different and very distinct way; as if each were written with me as reader in mind. That doesn’t often happen although I wish it did. I find so few in the ‘blogosphere’ who can engage me in just this way. It’s refreshing and inspiring. And I really like the way you and Jim have found to ‘co-write’ this blog, with you writing the main post and Jim presenting his perspective on the topic in the comments. Very creative. I don’t often comment on the posts I read (we all have our favorites) and hardly ever at length (present comment excepted) but I had to speak to the ‘engagement’ I experienced with these posts and to congratulate you on your accomplishment(s). I’ve already ‘followed’ your blog, but now I’ll be more — much more — inclined to read it regularly. Thanks so much. -S-


    1. Steve, thank you for taking the time to comment. I am similarly guilty of not commenting on all that I read, so it means a lot when I get comments. I am happy to have written words that touched you. That’s the great unknown when writing, the vulnerability, “Will anyone connect with what I have to say?” I am glad to know that you do.

      I’m equally pleased with how it has worked out for Jim to add to the conversation via comments. His perspective is important.


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