DON’T Fall in to the Gap!

Communication Breachproceed with caution
By Just Add Kids Founder, Paula Herrmann

Good grief, is all I can say.  I’ve seen the fallout of communication gone bad when the choice mode has gone from talking face-to-face or on the phone, versus communication via your fingertips (texting, emailing, messaging).  I made, perhaps, a bad decision.

Last week, I spent a great deal of time addressing the real challenges we parents face with keeping our kids safe from online predators. I went to an informative presentation on the subject, I dialoged about it on Facebook with other concerned parents, I found out that my son (seemingly from everything he told me) was a target…I even wrote a blog about it:  Read more…Creeper Alert: Proceed with Caution. I have not, and probably will never move on from that subject. Peeps, it’s here. It’s our reality. I’m living it. My kids are living it. If you are not there, your kids are either too young, or you’ve decided not to open that can of worms. If you choose the later, I applaud you, at the same time, I don’t know how you will be able to contain them. Our world of technology in your hands will somehow get to them, whether that is at school, or just within their social circles.

There are times, as a mom, that I wish I were raising my children in a different decade. I know each had its own challenges. However, digital technology is rapidly changing, so that puts a unique responsibility on us parents raising post-millennials. We have to keep the pace…more work for us. But we have to prioritize it, because it is, afterall, our job to keep our kids safe.

I talk “mom” talk. You and I, for the most part, can relate to each other. I may not be in the throws of plugging electrical outlets with security plugs anymore to avoid little curious fingers getting zapped; or using safety gates on entry ways and safety latches on cabinet doors to guard our babies and toddlers from potential harm. Our household has (and I say this with a bit of melancholy) grown out of those stages. We’ve moved on from communicating to our littles by sitting down and teaching them the A, B, C’s verbally and visually, and learning examples of items that start with A, B, C, etc. Instead, I’m directing my son and daughter to jump on our school district-backed online program “First In Math”. My 17 year old, learns her opera music, many times, by accessing professionals’ recorded performances on YouTube. That former example, with the ABC’s may be done using a LeapPad or some other early learning digital technology tool. My point is, we still all have something in common, the responsibility of raising children. Teaching them, disciplining them, caring for them, loving them, etc.

Unless you are a mom, I’m sorry,  you don’t get what it means to be a mom. You don’t understand ALL of the balls we juggle. You just don’t. Whether you are a stay at home mom, a work from home mom, a part-time, over-nighter, mom. We’re all unique, yet we have that one common thing that binds us, we’ve given birth (of course, unless you adopted or are fostering, which is cool)…our kids health and well-being is up to us.

One thing that I’ve tried to reiterate with my kids, especially as you know, my kids are older (10, 11, 17, and now I have an adult child 19) is that while texting or posting on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, whatever might be the popular mode of communicating, sometimes you just have to pick up the phone and call. Yes, talk to someone. Most of the time, it’s a time-sensitivity thing that would make calling and getting instantaneous information the reason why calling is what needs to be done. And as most of know from experience, sometimes the written word in text doesn’t quite translate the way it was intended.

Case in point: we have (well, now “had”) a technology service provider. Someone who had installed this computer, added a (hardcore) firewall device with service subscription., provided patch service, etc. a year ago. She’s extremely knowledgeable in her field. Okay, so we did not hit it off from the get go, but, you know, I can totally appreciate a person for their passions that differ from mine. She said to me in our initial meeting, “My mind works like a computer” and I said “Mine works like a logo”.

I’ve had to reach out to her a just a handful of times, whether it be to let her know that some important websites I need to access frequently  were coming up blocked and I needed them unblocked, to when I informed her that we were switching our internet provider from Time Warner Cable to AT & T U-Verse. She nearly blew a gasket with that switch and sent me her typical long response with links to podcasts and articles as to why something was right or wrong. What I think she didn’t get was that she didn’t have to ever prove to me that her suggestions (more like commands) needed all that supporting “evidence”. I believed her. I trusted her expertise.

I am notorious for leaving extremely painful voice mail messages. She’s long on dialog (which always came off a bit condescending) and emails. Oh. My. Gosh.

Anyways, we’ve approached our renewal time on services/subscriptions and I have some questions for her, which I decide I’ll ask via email (I don’t have to click thru to the podcast or article cited) but, if I called, I’d be subjected to Lord knows how long of a phone conversation on a Sunday, my only day off. Namely, some services she quotes this would be billed at 30 minutes, that would be billed at 45 minutes. We’re suppose to sign a 2 page contract. Okay. I have a few questions, one being…what does 30 minutes/45 minutes equate to in dollars? I see no dollar amount per hour mentioned in the contract or in any of the back and forth emailed correspondences.

Long story, short(ened). Whatever, however, I asked my questions, she obviously took them in a manner that wasn’t intended and she FIRED me/us as a customer. What. The. Heck?! An email subject lined “I am sorry” (explaining I think she misunderstood my message, let’s resolve this) and a voicemail saying the same has not been returned since Monday.

Here’s probably a perfect case of a situation that might have gone differently had I called. Would I have been able to predict that? I don’t know.

I’m just gonna let it go. I do have a problem with people arrogantly communicating with me. Yah, I get you’re smarter than me. You let me know that. Maybe it was easier to get that via email than verbally.  Now our communication issue has become a “security” breach, as well.

Thanks for sticking with me through this rant. Sometimes you just gotta do it.


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