My brain wasn’t ready for that

Randy Butler Contributing columnist

Randy Butler Contributing columnist

Big shocker: I just found out after doing some very basic research that I wasn’t as smart a young man as I once thought.

Did you know experts say (whoever they are) it’s estimated that most of our learning comes between birth and age 5, but the human brain is not fully developed until around 25 years old? Yes, 25. Let that sink in just a bit.

When my dad was farming, my brother and I ran the beans to town on the tractor at 13 and 14 years old. At 16 years old we are given keys to a car and told we are plenty old enough to make life and death choices as we travel down the road at 60 miles per hour (much faster in my case). Being married at 19, I saw my son born a little over a year later, my second child born when I was right around 22, and a third at 25. I had a family with children before I could make those hard decisions. Maybe that explains some of my more bonehead moves?

Not too long after we were married, I got a job at UDF in Norwood. It was kind of a big deal as a young married man to get a pretty good-paying job in the city. I was not there very long when one of the drivers called in sick. My boss pointed at me and asked, can you drive a semi? Since I grew up driving tractors and wagons, I answered confidently, “Yes, I can.” It turns out I was wrong. I could not.

As I was making my debut driving a big rig and pulling out onto Montgomery Road, my friend Tiny (who had just gotten a brand new Pontiac Trans Am) found he parked in the wrong spot. I am not sure how tall the car was, but after I passed it was much shorter. If I knew then that my brain was not yet developed for those types of circumstances, I would have played that card. Oddly enough, two to three days later I was given another chance, and all went well. I should have been fired, but I was not.

It seems each generation of teens are faced with harder life choices than the ones before them.

● We drive when we are not ready.

● We are told don’t drink, do drugs, drive fast, use tobacco, and host of others.

● Some may be thrust into parenthood.

● Some are told they can choose what sex they think they should be.

● We are told we can choose what college to attend.

● We are told we can choose what career we are fitted for.

● When out with our friends we can choose what’s morally right or wrong.

● Some of us choose a mate for life.

To use one of the phrases my grandfather used about any teenager ever born, no matter how smart they may be, they are still dumber than a hoe handle. Yet, all are forced to make what could be life-altering choices almost daily that they do not have the mental capacity to make.

Don’t we have to ask ourselves how do we prepare our teenagers to make wise choices when faced with them? It would be nice to keep them locked up until the age of 25, but I am sure there is a law somewhere against that. Parenting any child is difficult, but it’s a responsibility we must take seriously if we choose to do so.

Like any who have tried, I made many mistakes with my kids. I read once that after they grow up and none of them write a book about you, most likely you did OK.

I think we need to realize our children will be faced to make some pretty hard choices. We need to do our best to make them as prepared as possible so if a bad one is made, it will not have life-altering consequences. How do we do that?

By using every day as a chance to teach and by modeling good choices ourselves. They will watch what we do more than what we will say to them.

And to pray — a lot!

Randy Butler is a lifelong resident of Highland County and a licensed real estate agent for Classic Real Estate in Hillsboro.

Randy Butler Contributing columnist Butler Contributing columnist