One thing that is unique to living with a group of men is the astounding capacity for memory. As a woman, I often get noted for remembering all sorts of things that should be dubbed as “to-be-forgotten”. Things like; who broke my favorite crystal candy dish, or the location of socks and baseball jerseys to the chronological order of the required steps to prepare boxed macaroni and cheese are all but useless bits of information to the male mind. What I have actually discovered is that male memory has everything to do with the reptilian brain.
It’s what gives each and every human being the capacity to survive by creating a response we gravitate to. Much like how birds fly south when the weather gets cold, our reptilian brain gives humans a basic ability to survive and endure a longer life through gravitating to basic human necessities. This was pointed out to me just yesterday.
Currently my husband and I are enjoying some much needed time alone, out of state, under the guise of celebrating a wedding of a family friend’s daughter. The five boys are under the skillful care of my long suffering mother in law, who also happens to live with us. Each night we have talked through the schedule of events with grandma and the boys to make sure all the bases are covered.
My 16 year old requested to go to a college night with his girlfriend at the local community college. He assured everyone that he had transportation covered with the girlfriend’s family and would be gone from 6pm until about 8:30pm. I enjoyed a lengthy discussion with said 16 year old son about coming home right after school to check in with grandma, eat and get some homework done before venturing out for the evening. So, imagine my surprise when my husband makes the daily call home around 8pm and grandma informs him that she has not seen hide nor hair of her blessed 16 year old grandson since she dropped him off for school.
Now, here’s the difference between men and women: I assume my son has met some terrible circumstance of dire consequences that detain him from meeting the requirements of coming home after school. My mind immediately goes into panic mode and plays through a million scenarios; some that include broken limbs and natural disasters. My husband however, cups his hand over the phone as says to me “Get that kid on the cell phone now and let him know I am pretty ticked off!”. I oblige. The call goes like this:
Me: “Hey, where the heck are you?”
Son: “Ummmm, I’m at Dairy Queen, we decided to stop on our way back from college night.”
Me: “Really? What happened to coming home after school? Grandma was expecting you.”
Son: “No she wasn’t, I told her I would be late.”
Me: “No….I told YOU to come home after school, remember?”
Son: “Oh”……long pause…..”I forgot about that.”
Now here is what my husband instinctively understands due to his identical chromosomal alignment with our son. Once a 16 year old boy has a cute girl that requests ANYTHING of him, the reptilian brain kicks in and obeys. Just the mere mention of going to her house after school means HE MUST GO. The reptilian brain says so. There are no rules, no consequences and no perceived disadvantages. Like lemmings falling off a cliff, bears hibernating in a cave and the swallows return to Capistrano, the teenage male must oblige the reptilian brain.
This conditioned basic-need response falls into play in more than just situations with the opposite sex. For example, if there is a game on television, it must be watched. If the grass needs to be cut, and nap must be taken. If a soccer sock smells so bad it causes you to gag, it must be thrown back into the sports bag to cultivate. These are the given responses to the male brain.
Once I begin to understand this, then I can plan accordingly. I know better than to request a substantial household project during the NCAA final four tournaments, I always empty out the sports bag while holding my breath, and if there is a girl involved,…..someone is going to be grounded for an entire weekend until he understands how to override the reptilian response.