Thursday, May 26, 2011

No More Second Chances

Why is it that we let Kid #2 get away with more than Kid #1 could ever dream of getting away with?  Is this why the first born is such a stringent rule follower and second-born children are typically more carefree?  Whatever the reason I am coming to the unfortunate conclusion that I've got some work to do making Christopher more accountable for his actions.  I've been lax.  I've made too many excuses (but he's only 3, 4, 5,...and...but just look at that face!).  I've been too permissive.  No more.

Christopher is out of second chances. 

This was the hard lesson he learned when he didn't get ice cream with the family the other night.  We were standing in line at the ice cream shop for Pete's sake and he had to go and do something we told him not to do. His father told him no.  I told him no.  And, he went and did it anyway.  No ice cream for Christopher.

He screamed and he cried.  The other ice cream patrons must have thought I was the meanest mom in the entire universe, but he made the bad decision and now he had to live with the consequences.  Period.  He tried to make it up to us.  Sorry.  He tried to state his case.  Not interested.  He tried to say he didn't hear us.  Nice try.  He was flabbergasted that we all walked around licking our delicious ice cream cones while he walked around licking his wounds.

Since then he's lost American Idol-watching, dessert, and other privileges.  What Christopher thinks is cute, charming or charismatic can be disrespectful.  What might have been humorous coming from a 3-year-old is not even remotely funny in a kid who just turned six.  Christopher is used to working a crowd and using his God-given persuasion potential to get what he wants.  And most of the time it works.  Until now.  I'm drawing line in the sand.  He will cross it at his own peril.

As hard as it is to see my kids suffer (I really did feel bad about not giving Christopher ice cream...not bad enough to break down and give him a cone...but bad nonetheless) it's harder for me to see kids who aren't required to take responsibility for their actions.  Christopher will be held accountable.  Neither one of us may like it because I'd rather not send him to his room or eat ice cream in front of him and he'd rather be doing what we do as a family instead of sulking off on his own, but what I say goes and no means no.  It's not always up for discussion. 

We all learn from our mistakes.  Let's hope Christopher learns from his that we will have a much more enjoyable summer if he gets it right the first time because he's out of second chances. 

Fingers crossed...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Finding the Silver Lining

I felt extremely violated when my email account was hacked into and messages from my hacker were sent to everyone with whom I've ever had email contact about me being stranded in Spain and needing money asap. It was laughable that my hacker thought my friends and/or acquaintances would fall for such a prank (these scams have been around for awhile although the location periodically changes) but even more absurd that he thought he could impersonate me by writing such a grammatically incorrect email.  I have not and will never write run-on sentences like his ridiculous email did or use a lowercase "i" in any correspondence ever.  Ever.  Even in text messages.

When I realized what was happening, I tried to lock him out of my account. Only every time I locked him out, he would sign on and lock me out.  He added his name and email address to my email account so I couldn't change anything without him receiving notification that I was changing something.  As I was sending email messages to my friends telling them to disregard anything coming from my Hotmail account because I really wasn't in Spain, he was sending those same contacts emails saying it wasn't a prank and I really was in Spain.  The nerve! 

After about an hour of locking each other out of my account, he won.  I was locked out completely and unable to get back in.  Luckily, before his final lock-out I managed to do a quick export of my contacts so I didn't lose every single email address in my address book. 

I called Microsoft and received no help.  I was told to run a virus scan on my computer and try to log back in.  I was transferred from department to department, my calls were disconnected at least five times and I was put on hold for untold hours.  I opened support tickets online, sent emails to abuse@hotmail.com and searched the Internet for answers.  I came up empty-handed.  I spent at least 8 hours trying to fix my problem until I finally gave up.  I was exhausted.  I was defeated.   No amount of support tickets or phone calls could get this guy out of my email account. 

You never realize how far-reaching your email address is until you have to change it.  I set up a new email account and began the time-consuming process of connecting my new email address to everything from my own contacts to school and sports databases to travel websites to software registration sites to... you name it.  I'm still making changes.

Almost five days after my hacker took over my account Microsoft finally sent me a new password and I was able to temporarily change my old password to lock my hacker out of my account.  Realizing I had very little time before he potentially started his lock-out routing with me again, I signed in to Hotmail, perused my multitude of folders and sub-folders for pertinent information and transferred some sensitive emails to a dummy account.  I didn't want to transfer anything from Hotmail to my new email address in case he followed me there.  I transferred some emails to my dummy account and then transferred those emails to my new account.  Talk about labor-intensive.  I then deleted my Hotmail account for good.  Goodbye kbernard53@hotmail.com.  We had a good 12-year run.

As annoying and outrageous as this process was (actually still is) I have to admit I found a silver lining to the rather dark, ominous cloud hanging over me.  I was mad, no doubt.  I felt violated, yes.  But my hacker did for me what I should have done for myself a long time ago. 

My hacker made me take a good, hard look at what was important or essential information and what wasn't. Email subscriptions I was signed up for were clogging my account.  Every morning I was greeted with numerous emails in my Inbox requiring my attention to read, delete or unsubscribe from.  Writing newsletters, shopping discount coupons, free digital scrapbook downloads, travel deals, newspaper headlines, etc.  I was so afraid to miss out on "important" information that I was practically suffocating myself in the process.  My elevated heart rate and shortness of breath every time I opened my Inbox should have indicated to me the information I thought I needed to process really wasn't doing me any good at all.  I should have deleted those subscriptions a long time ago.  Thank you hacker-man for forcing me to get rid of all of that useless information by forcing me to delete my Hotmail account altogether and start anew.

I deleted my Facebook account.  I hated Facebook anyway and rarely signed in for fear of seeing the posts of the most relentless narcissists who insist that I care one whit about what they had for breakfast.  I never added a status update and only posted the occasional picture, so what good was Facebook to me?  I decided that if I needed to share my occasional pictures with friends and family I could just as easily open a photo-sharing website.  Spending so much time fixing my email problems forced me to prioritize how I really feel like spending my time and Facebook ain't it.  Thank you hacker-man for helping me see the light.  Goodbye useless waste of time.

I used to check my email from my phone.  My Hotmail account was connected to my Samsung Instinct and that little blue, blinking star beckoned me to open my email every time a new message was delivered.  It became something of an obsession.  I was constantly checking for the blue, blinking light.  Was checking email on my phone absolutely necessary?  Absolutely not.  I have yet to set up my new email account on my phone and I doubt I will.  I will now answer emails when I have the time not because of that damn blinking star.

Getting rid of nonessential information has done wonders for my heart rate.  I am breathing more deeply than I have in a long time.  I don't have 20 folders with sub-folders of saved emails in my new email account.  My Inbox is not clogged with useless subscriptions.  My phone's blue star doesn't blink.  I am free of Facebook.  I am starting over with a clean slate and it feels g-r-r-r-r-e-a-t. 

Ask me if I felt great two weeks ago and my eyes would have shot hot, scorching daggers directly at your heart just before I emasculated you with a sling of blistering barbs.  These last two weeks have not been fun.  But they have been enlightening.  In our world of 24-7 access to just about everything and everyone I realized I don't want to be that accessible and I don't want to drown in useless information.  No more.  I've had enough.

Thank you hacker-man.  In the beginning you may have sabotaged my precious time but in the end you forced me to reclaim it. 

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