Before I was a writer, before I was a mom of four boys – before I was the mother of one boy – I was a nurse.
Guess I’ve always been interested in science. In high school, I loved biology and advanced biology. In college, I studied anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry, nutrition and pharmacology (not to mention psychology and sociology). To this day, I love watching the Discovery Channel and National Geographic, and I get as excited as my boys do when they make an interesting scientific discovery. (The latest turned out to be an immature raccoon skull.)
But what truly intrigues me, endlessly, is the meeting of science and life.
As a nurse, all of that science mattered only because it helped me understand what was going on with the patient. I needed that knowledge to visualize what as going on inside the body, to predict what might come next and to understand how and why certain interventions were helpful or harmful. I needed that knowledge to help patients understand what was going on inside their bodies, what might come next and what might be helpful or harmful.
As a writer, I do the same thing. The first national article I published was about labor induction. I wrote that article because I wanted women to make informed choices. There’s a science to labor and birth, and each intervention sets off a scientific cascade that affects the rest of labor. How can women make informed choices about labor and birth if they’re unaware of the science?
As a mother, I quickly realized that there’s a huge difference between my sons and I, and that difference isn’t merely chronological or anatomical. It’s a difference in how we think, how we act and how we perceive the world. As I told my husband, “I’ve never felt the need to climb on the couch and jump off of if, just because.”
So I began digging into the science. What I found intrigued me:
- Boys’ hearing is less acute than girls’ from day one
- Boys have more M cells than P cells in their retinas, meaning that their eyes are primed to detect motion
- Boys have more dopamine in their bloodstreams
- Boys (males in general, actually) have fewer connections between the hemispheres of the brain
- The areas of the brain that handle language mature, on average, six years later in boys than in girls
Once again, I’m trying to connect science and life. I’m learning about the very real, brain-based differences between males and females and trying to understand how boys learn. I’m sharing my knowledge with others. (Come visit me at Blogging ‘Bout Boys.) And I’m experimenting, always experimenting.
Luckily, I have four “lab rats” of my own.