“Hey Brain, what do you want to do today?”– Pinky

One of my greatest blessings in life has been my college experience. As I have learned, nothing happens by chance. I got very ill in the spring of my senior year of high school. The good news, I was well enough to go to prom, and i was super skinny. I mean, I nearly died, but let’s focus on the positives. My plans of attending Rhodes or Vanderbilt were put on hold, as it was too risky to be so far away from my medical team. I ended up applying to Auburn late in the spring, and decided to attend. It was far enough away to feel like I was “away,” but close enough that my parents could get me to our trusted physicians quickly. (Which one time entailed a flight, I’m pretty sure that to get the plane ready, fly to Auburn, and back to Georgia took longer than it would have taken for a friend to drive me. But, once again, it just proved that my Daddy is a superhero of epic proportions.) I ended up staying at Auburn because I found the most incredible family of friends who still are a part of my daily life.

We weren’t the wildest group at Auburn, but we weren’t the calmest. Our senior and super senior years, we lived in a magical place called the Chi O Mansion. If we had a “crazy” night out at our dear Supper Club (dancing front row-right corner), we would wake up in the morning and joke about the “frontal lobe damage” we might have caused. As every college student does, we did stupid things like climb over fences and walk through the McDonald’s drive-thru as we walked home from the bars in downtown. {We had some sense of reasoning, we NEVER drove when we had more than 1 drink.} If I had attended class more regularly, or actually studied, I could have used the information I received in my major classes to explain to our little group of friends that our brains weren’t even fully developed yet. I could have explained that, but they would have laughed at me. Of course our brains were developed, we were ADULTS


While we probably did some slight damage to our frontal lobes, that part was pretty much mature. The part of our brian that wasn’t mature, the prefrontal cortex, is a small part of the brain that, I believe, was a key element in Molly’s death. According to this article: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390443713704577601532208760746

The front part of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex, is one of the last brain regions to mature. It is the area responsible for planning, prioritizing and controlling impulses.

Our sweet Molly always thought she was older than she was. After we moved my brother into his dorm for his freshman year of college, 3.5 year old Molly pointed to the campus of West Georgia as we arrived back home. She said, “I will just go here for college, okay!” In her little mind, she wouldn’t be far behind Griffin and I going to college. In high school, I was babysitting her the night we did our senior prank. Did I skip the senior prank? Did I get someone to come watch her? Nope. I just brought her along and let her help us move traffic signs around and drag bleachers to the entrance of the school. She is probably, hopefully, the only 1st grader in the history of Oak Mountain Academy to be involved in the senior prank. It’s no wonder she had no idea that her brain wasn’t fully developed.

Planning and prioritizing always seemed like a strength for Molly. She would have a school project done weeks before it was due. She could unpack and organize a room quicker than I could consider opening a box. She didn’t just make a Christmas list with random item names, she made a list with pictures, descriptions, prices, and locations for the item. She also put them in order of what she really wanted down to what she would like to have, but knew it was a pipe dream. We mistook that organization and proactive behavior for maturity. Those were basic concrete tasks that she could reason through. However, when she learned she was pregnant. Her brain was at least 8 years away from being able to plan and reason through the abstractness of the implications of being pregnant and not telling anyone.

She was 17 when she found out she was pregnant;18 was in the immediate horizon. In America, we tell 18 year-olds that they are adults. They can buy lottery tickets, serve in the military, and vote. We send 18 year olds off to college, or send them to the workforce. We tell them that they are grown! This is not fair or right. We have to let our college-aged children know that while they are given some freedoms, they are not equipped to handle the world alone. Parents, many of you know that your job never ends. But, some of you need to wake up. Just because your child turns 18 and graduates high school, does not mean that you have done your job. Whether they realize it or not, adolescents and young adults CRAVE guidance and affirmations that they are making wise choices. They need parents or adults to step in sometimes and remind them that they aren’t really as grown as they believe they are. Let your children try, let them fail, but be there to help them rise from failure. In order for them to feel safe in failing, you have to start early. Share with them when you fail, tell them from an early age that they will make mistakes, work together to solve those mistakes. Tell them that they might mess up so badly that they will think there’s no way out. Tattoo it on their hearts that there is always a way to work through a problem with a trusted adult’s guidance. It’s easy to get frustrated with a young person’s shortfalls, because our brains are developed. Our brains need to remember that their brains aren’t.

We need MollyROCK to open lines of communication between developed brain and developing brains. If our children know they have a safe adult who will always listen, guide, and help, they’ll turn into adults themselves who will listen, guide, and help. We thought Molly had 4 adults in her immediate family who did that, but we missed the mark. We neglected the impact of brain development in adolescents. Learn from us, please.

Keep MollyROCK in your frontal lobe, cerebellum, prefrontal cortex, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, and wherever else you can find room to store it.

More than meat loves salt,


P.S. I found this video fascinating. Not so much in terms of MollyROCK, but as an educator. Sometimes, I wonder if those who are driving assessment for children take into account brain development….


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