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April 19, 2011

Wait ’til You’re Brain is My Age and Tell Me What You Think Then!

by Prue Miller

During almost any exciting and frank discussion with my teenage sons, we come to a point where I can see that they just don’t get it. They don’t see that I am the mature font of knowledge, a catacomb of experience, a seer of sorts. At exactly the same point in time they know what I am going to say. I will put my tea towel over my shoulder, rest my not inconsiderable weight on my elbows, lean over the kitchen island,  and say somewhat sagely “Wait ‘til your my age, and tell me what you think then.”

This has finally brought about a discussion of when does a brain become a fully functional piece of equipment, and not just a bunch of neurons hanging in there singing Kumbaya ?

At what point are people understood to have understanding?

In the ye olden days – there was an early life milestone known as the Age of Reason which was about 7, and meant that the child at least had a grasp of moral responsibility. Then at 10 there is a suggestion criminal responsibility ( It ranges across the globe – from 6 in North Carolina or 7 in India, South Africa, Singapore and most of the United States of America, to 17 in France and Poland and 18 in Brazil and Belgium) – though most kids seem to get a free legal pass until 14 and by then by jingo, everyone’s into puberty.

 Puberty seems to be happening earlier and earlier and but remains as tricky as ever, and lasts longer. Whoever planned that just wasn’t thinking it all the way through, that’s what I say.

In any event, I don’t think any ‘minor’ is thinking clearly at all for the five years of puberty, which leads us into the arena of serious consequences at 18 when you’d better know what the hell it is you’ve done because you’re probably going into the slammer for it.

This led me to consider then; what happens to the brain at the other end of the scale – are people as liable as ever, if indeed their brain is no longer full sized?

At about the age of 2, a child brain weighs in at about 1200grams, and is believed to be about 80% of it’s adult size, then hits it’s fighting weight when the person is about 20 and although it won’t grow anymore, it will continue to develop.  Here’s the clincher, then from about 50 it starts to shrink. A 50 year old’s brain has trouble holding water (yeah, I know…) and will weigh a meager 1.4kilos! And by 65 a frightening 1.1kgs. … not much more than a two years olds.

So I’m wondering, does that mean I’ll be free to slam doors, not do my homework and refuse to dress respectably when I go to the store and get away with it? With such a tiny brain, surely the defence would rest?

For some reason knowing that my brain is shrinking is very depressing; I finally get to lose weight, but in exactly the wrong place.

Words to remember: it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality!

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