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.