It sits on Alex’s bed under the posters of Justin Bieber; truly a place of honor. It is the laptop, the promised, and much anticipated gift for Alex’s 17th birthday. It is admired and unused.
Alex was delighted to receive the laptop. When she opened the box her smile lit up the room. She has wanted her own laptop for at least a year; just like her siblings. Courtney and Tom needed laptops for school and Alex knew she was being short changed. I agreed and purchased the laptop at an on-line sale in April. It has been in my closet, unopened and eagerly awaiting June 19th!
However, I made a tactical error; I did not check the laptop when it arrived. My sincere and thoughtful gift to Alex turned into a nightmare. The laptop did not work when Alex turned it on. Alex’s smile began to quiver and tears gushed from her eyes. She stormed out of the room and ran to her room to listen to music, which always soothes her. I felt awful….I had ruined my daughter’s birthday and my much anticipated surprise.
Feeling incredibly guilty and very sad about my daughter’s disappointment I vowed to her I would fix it. The following day I got on my computer with the technical folks at the manufacturer, no names here, suffice it to say it rhymes with h***. Two hours later after reloading the operating systems, numerous drivers and anything else they could think of, the computer was still not working. On to the phone I went, I think I was transferred or disconnected at least five times. Finally by e-mail, I demanded return instructions, which I discovered, are very hard to get from this particular manufacturer, especially when I had missed the 30 day return policy.
Back to the complaint department with a scathing e-mail utilizing my sympathy card “my 17 year old daughter with down syndrome…this is all she wanted for her birthday”. I never ever use that line, but this time I did. I would have done anything to get this much awaited computer to work. I know my usual low blood pressure was high, my head ached from all the stress, and my heart pained for Alex. I HATE disappointing my kids and especially Alex.
To make this long and very painful story short, John spent 2 hours the following day with yet another technical person on the phone. Apparently, the first technical person did not understand the issue and we loaded the wrong sections of the operating system. Our new support person was great and total of four days later Alex had her computer.
Once working Alex went to facebook and personally thanked all those who had sent her birthday wishes. I felt relieved and confident the disappointment phase of the birthday giving had passed.
But this is not the case; Alex is still very suspicious of her laptop. Although it does have a place of honor under Justin, she has not turned it on. When asked, she told me it did not work. That is not the case, I was able to show her it worked fine.
My guess, and once again one of the many things I try to understand about Alex, is her ability to process emotion. I believe Alex was so disappointed on her birthday she thinks the computer will crash again and that disappointment will visit her again. So she avoids the potential for this disaster again in her life. In many ways she feels this emotion so deeply she can get physically sick. Sometimes she just can not see the light at the end of the tunnel; she is too focused on the now. We work on this, but it can be a struggle for all of us.
I am so sorry about the laptop. I know it will take a lot of time and energy on my part to get Alex to trust the computer will work. I need to sit down with her and walk through facebook and e-mail a number of times. We will need to google Justin Bieber, the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus at least a hundred times for her to begin to feel confident she will not be disappointed again. Not at the top of the list of things I want to do, but certainly necessary.
However, lucky me, no job = lots of free time and a new job to find!