Laura on Life

A cry for help

By Laura Snyder

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[September 26, 2009]  Somewhere in the recesses of a hard drive, miles away from my home, something happened. An iota of data got twisted. A minute smidgeon of dust somehow got past the security of the metal casing. Some tiny piece of insignificant space was corrupted by a digital demon.

Like the swine flu, it infected more and more of that hard drive, but the computer did not detect this tiny error. So it kept mirroring the bad hard drive to the good hard drive until it, too, had been corrupted.

This tiny, insignificant little something turned my life upside down for days. As far as I can tell, this was a digital cry for help. It is the same thing a child does when he wants attention. He does little things he knows he shouldn't and then has a total meltdown at the most inappropriate moment.

At times like this, instead of screaming and yelling like you really want to, you have to stay calm and rationalize all the reasons you should not throw your computer into the nearest body of water.

I couldn't receive or send e-mail. I was a virtual hermit for days. My Web site was gone -- vanished like my waistline. If someone tried to log on, they'd have gotten a message full of numbers and letters that made no sense except to the geekiest members of our society.

My husband, thankfully, happens to be fluent in Geek, so he knew how to fix the problem, but, he told me, it would be a few days before we would see anything resembling my Web site again and my e-mail contacts may look like Mish Mash Soup. (That is a concoction my daughter used to make with dirt, leaves and small crawling things when she was 3 years old.)

Some tiny, insignificant little something snapped in my psyche. I started throwing things when I could have placed them gently. I took longer, harder steps to get somewhere. My voice rose a couple of decibels higher than it needed to be. Random drawers and cupboards were closed more aggressively than was required. I realize now that it was a cry for help.

My husband tiptoed around me and said things like, "I'm so proud of you for staying so calm." My kids made themselves scarce. It may be the first time they've willingly played outside all year. However, when they left the door open one too many times, I locked them out. When they said, "But I have to go to the bathroom!" I said, "You should have thought about that before I locked the door!"

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Apparently, some infinitesimal something gave way in their heads. They whined about not having Doritos for lunch. They trashed the yard with multicolored water balloon fragments. They dragged every tool out of the garage and left them on the ground. They sniped at each other. They wrote insults to each other on the front of the house in sidewalk chalk. This was not only mutiny; it was definitely... a cry for help.

My husband's cry for help was more like a bellow of rage, because not only was he trying to resurrect my Web site and e-mail from the dead, but now his tools were all over the yard, the house needed pressure washing and the lawn mower would be spewing multicolored balloon fragments for months.

So, OK, we were all in chaos mode now. Some tiny part of my mind understood that we needed help and that there was no magic wand to wave that would make it all go away. That tiny bud blossomed into some semblance of sanity. Clearly, we needed... milk and cookies.

Over the sweet familiarity of milk and cookies, we hammered out a plan as a family. Everyone had a job to do and if everyone did that job, life would get back to normal. This is the true spirit of a cohesive family. I wasn't quite sure if we were a cohesive family or not, but we had a plan, and if it worked, then surely we would have passed the test. We did, indeed, pass, but only by the skin of our teeth, which just means that we all need to go to the dentist.

As we have observed here, the only way to fix a dysfunctional family is with milk and cookies. Now... if only that would work with a hard drive.


Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author and speaker. You can reach her at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com or visit www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

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