Fried Laptop, Learning From Mistakes, And Overwhelming Guilt

On Wednesday night, NHL was playing a game on my laptop while I made dinner. Suddenly, he shouted that my laptop turned off and wouldn’t turn back on again. I checked and, sure enough, my laptop was dead.

After questioning NHL, he admitted that he tried to plug it in, but wasn’t paying attention. Instead, he shoved the round power plug into a rectangular USB port.

Normally, this wouldn’t have been much of a problem. The power plug requires a metal contact inside the plug itself and the connectors in the USB drive sit atop a plastic piece. Unfortunately, that plastic piece had gone missing and one of the USB connectors entered the power plug.

You might be able to guess what happened next. A surge of electricity flowed through sensitive computer components not designed to handle such currents. My best guess is that the motherboard was fried.

I opened the computer and looked it over. While I couldn’t find and visible damage, given the nonresponsiveness of the laptop, a fried motherboard makes the most sense.

Replacing the motherboard would cost half as much as a new computer. Even then it might not work right as other components might have been fried. So it looks like it’s time for a new laptop for me.

As for NHL, he was, understandably, upset. I’ll admit that, at first, I wanted him to feel bad about it. Making mistakes teaches you nothing if you don’t take the mistake to heart. Too many people are all too eager to blame their mistakes on others and thus don’t learn from them.

After awhile, though, I saw that this had progressed past simple “feeling bad for his mistake” and had turned into full blown “nothing I do is right and I always mess everything up.”

I know that mindset all too well. It’s easy to get stuck like that and spiral downward quickly. At that moment, I set aside any anger I felt over what happened to my laptop and put on my parenting hat.

I told NHL that I understood how he felt and that I’ve felt that way many, many times before. It can be easy to sink into a depression over your mistakes, but that doesn’t help. I told him that, when I feel like this, I intentionally set those thoughts aside for awhile. I picture it like I’m packaging up my feelings/thoughts and placing them on a shelf in my mind.

Once I calm down and can rationally assess what happened, I pick the thoughts up again, figure out what went wrong and how I can do better next time. I make sure I take those lessons to heart but then I put all feelings of guilt aside so as to not let them overwhelm me. This isn’t to say that I don’t feel guilty. I do and will apologize immediately to anyone that I need to. However, for my own self-preservation, I need to be sure to keep myself out of the guilt spiral.
NHL seems to have recovered from his bout with the guilt spiral. I don’t know just yet if he’s taken the lesson to heart. (The lesson being: “Always pay attention where you’re plugging things into.”)

Now, I just need to hunt for a new laptop.

Genetic Guilt

DNAYesterday, I revealed that NHL was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.  In addition, we’re pretty sure that I have Asperger’s as well.  When we figured this out, I found myself questioning everything I did.  Suddenly, I wondered whether I did certain things because of me or because of the Asperger’s.  As I internalized that these were one and the same, another problem presented itself: Guilt.

Asperger’s has a strong genetic component.  If Mom or Dad has Asperger’s, there’s a good chance that Junior will have it too.  NHL is so much like a little version of myself: Socially awkward, prone to babbling on about interests whether or not anyone is listening, has trouble looking people in the eyes, has trouble tossing out a plan and winging it, etc. His Asperger’s Syndrome – for better or worse – comes from me.  Or, to put it the way I began to think about the situation: It’s all my fault.

All those years of not knowing what was going on?  My fault.  The problems he’s had in school?  Because of me.  His future struggles with the neuro-typical world?  Blame me.

Of course, I knew that it wasn’t like I gave him these genes on purpose.  I didn’t sort through my genetic code tossing out some "good genes" to make room for Asperger’s.  This was just the roll of the genetic dice.  There is no blame to place here just like there isn’t any blame assigned to NHL having my blue eyes or JSL having the same chin dimple I have.  Still, a portion of my brain refused to give up the guilt.

As parents, we never want to see our kids come to harm.  If there was a magical button that, while pressed, would ensure that kids would have a perfect life, we would spend the rest of our days leaning heavily on said button.  It hurts us when they feel pain or sorrow.  And if said pain/sorrow is somehow attributable to us?  Even in the most indirect of ways?  Devastating!

I have let go of most of my guilt.  Deep inside I’ll always feel a tiny bit of guilt, but I’ve learned to ignore that voice.  I suppose that overcoming the feelings of guilt was part of coming to terms with the diagnosis.  Now, instead, I focus on how I can best help my son navigate the often confusing Land of the Neuro-Typical.

Have you ever felt guilty about something your kids inherited from you?

Note: The DNA image above was created by netalloy and is available from

A Guilty Getaway For Two

I’ve written before about feeling guilty, whether it is leaving for work, having a night out to myself or even just dedicating some time to me instead of putting everyone else in my family first.  Right now, I’m feeling a different sort of guilt.

You see, last month B and I celebrated our 10th anniversary.  For the past 8 years, though, we’ve only had one trip away from the kids: BlogHer 2010.  (Having the kids sleep at their grandparents for one night while we sleep at home less than a mile away and then get them first thing in the morning doesn’t count.)  Of course, BlogHer was fun, but it was very rushed and often B and I were going in different directions.  Not the kind of trip you go on to help rekindle those romantic sparks.

So we began to look into trips to take together.  Ten years seems like an appropriate length of time to have a Honeymoon Part 2 and we loved Honeymoon Part 1 so why not go to the same place: Disney World.

Now, I should note here that our plans are still very much up in the air.  We might wind up going to Disney.  We might wind up doing something else.  We might even scrap the whole “take a trip with just the two of us” idea entirely.  Still, the planning means that I’ve been thinking a lot about going to Disney World and leaving the kids behind (possibly in the care of my parents).

Here’s the guilty part.  Our kids love Disney World.  No, that doesn’t sound strong enough.  They ***LLLLOOOOVVVVEEEE*** Disney World.  JSL, on a nearly daily basis, asks when we’re going back there.  I can just imagine the screams of horror that will erupt when they find out that we’re headed to the home of Mickey Mouse without bringing them along.  There will be crying and screaming and guilt trips galore.

Part of me keeps saying “Why not bring the kids along?  They’ll love it!”  But, then I realize that we love Disney World too.  Why should their desire to see Disney World again trump our desire to have one “just the two of us” trip every ten years or so?  We’ve gone to Disney World every year for the past 3 years (once on a family trip and twice for Disney Social Media Moms).  The boys have gotten hooked, but we were hooked first.

There are things we’d love to do at Disney World that you just can’t do with little kids.  I’d love to go on the African Safari trek and some of the backstage tours.  I’d want to spend time lazily walking through the countries in Epcot while holding B’s hand without screams of “I’ve got to go potty” ringing in my ears.  I’d like to try some of the more upscale/romantic, less kid friendly restaurants.  I don’t want to spend every meal wondering whether JSL will eat anything other than Mac & Cheese or pizza today.  It will be wonderful to navigate through crowds without lugging a stroller and changes of kid clothes.

In short, as much as it is fun doing this:


I want to have a bit of time to do this:

Photo1850FourBySix Photo1872FourBySix

Just please don’t tell NHL and JSL yet.  I’m still steeling myself for their response.

Aloha Friday: A Fun Night Out = Abandoning My Family?

Last Thursday night, I had the pleasure to go see Dr. Phil Plait (aka BadAstronomer) talk.  He spoke of such interesting subjects as the end of the world, Hollywood and eggs standing on end.  Amazingly, he was able to relate those things together into a coherent (and downright funny) speech including some clips from Armageddon and Deep Impact.  While there, I met TechSkeptik.  We had a great time talking about many things before and after Phil’s speech.  (No, not during.  That’d be rude.  Besides, Phil’s speech was too interesting to allow for talking.)

As I went to the speech, excited though I was, I also felt guilty.  I usually go home, make dinner and help get the boys ready for (and into) bed.  Instead of helping out my family, though, I was going to hear a speech for my own enjoyment.  I felt selfish, even though I knew that nights out like this for me are extremely rare.  I really don’t have any friends here that I can have a guys’ night out with.  Back in June, I posted about feeling isolated at times.  That feeling still pops up from time to time.  Yet here I was out on the closest thing to a "guys’ night out" that I’ve had in a long, long time and I was feeling like I was abandoning my family by doing so.

My question for you is this: How often do you have a guys’ or girls’ night out?  When you do, do you feel guilty for leaving your family?

(NOTE: To balance out my night out, B had a girls’ night out of her own the very next week.)

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the MckLinky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #14