I remember the worst moment of my life, the moment the world turned from friendly and full of hidden promise to dangerous and full of unspeakable peril. The moment the words, "Be careful!" became my mantra. The moment I realized all the chillingly simple and unpredictable ways my child could be killed.

Mo_and_halMorgan was not quite a year old, standing on a chair, drawing with a pencil. I was so involved in his wanting to draw, I missed the clear and present danger. How could I have been so foolish? Then he fell off the chair, holding the dangerous implement. As I leaped to grab him, all I could see was that pencil lodged in horrible places.

It wasn’t. He cried for about a second, then climbed back onto the chair, back to drawing, never noticing the paradigm shift in our little universe. Wishing I’d let go of him and let him draw in peace. Meanwhile, I’m peering over my shoulder, seeing a house of treachery. Furniture. Pens. Probably dust-covered esophagus sized marbles rolling about in hidden corners reachable only by inquisitive baby-sized bodies… What had I forgotten to child-proof? And all this before bikes and swimming. How would my children survive childhood?

Or my neuroses? With any luck, they will learn to smile and ignore my high drama same as their father. Good thing they have a father or they would never have any fun. Fun is dangerous. When Morgan was four and we were at Disney’s Blizzard Beach, we passed the Summit Plummet on our way to the placid Cross Country Creek. Mo looked up at that slide and said, "I want to do that." I said, "Not a chance. Come on, we’re going to ride INNER TUBES." He looked skeptical, but followed me. What choice did he have?

Just as we got to the Creek, Hal decided he and Mo needed drinks. They were gone for an hour and a half. Where did they go????? The Summit Plummet! I wanted to kill Hal for encouraging such risky behavior. Instead, I dragged my fat old body up those zillion stairs and screamed my head off all the way down. It was terrifying. That’s fun? Mo followed me down, however, eyes wide open, huge grin on his face, silently ecstatic. That was the day he uttered the fateful words, "I’m scareless, Mom." Great.

Ryan_and_hal_laughingWhy no scareless Ryan stories? Because Ryan values staying alive over fun. He was looking both ways from his stroller. That’s my boy. The teen years seem to be wreaking havoc with that common sense… somehow he’s developed a taste for roller coasters. It’s Hal’s fault.

Now that the boys are gigantic, I’m pretty relaxed about their safety. I simply can’t protect them anymore. Fortuntely, they know everything. This will come in handy because there is still so much to be afraid of today. Like…

Warning #1
On Thursday night, while surfing the web, a window popped up on Hal’s computer that said, "Warning: Windows has discovered a virus and needs to do a security check." There was an "OK" box. He clicked OK, that window closed and thousands of new windows started popping up. As he closed the windows, more popped up… on and on seemingly forever. He finally got them all closed, continued reading and surfing, turned off his computer and went to bed.

The next morning, when he turned on his computer, all the data was gone. My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, Outlook and Outlook Express, all his emails, all his contacts, every file on his desktop, everything wiped spanking clean. Like new.

Now, we consider ourselves pretty geeky. We know the scams, we know a real Windows box from a fake one (or so we thought.) We know not to click anything no matter how flashy or how big the word "WARNING" until we know exactly what it is we are clicking.

But Hal must have been tired when he came upon this page because he didn’t examine it too carefully. He assumed his Windows Firewall was taking care of business and clicked OK. When all the windows started popping open, he then assumed he’d fallen for an advertising ploy, closed the pop-ups and went about his business. But while he was busy closing windows, software was being downloaded on his computer that erased all the data.

When Hal described the warning page to me, I suddenly remembered seeing it a few days before. Usually, as I’m reading an article online and come across a link to another site that looks interesting, I right click the link and select "open in new tab." That new page opens without my having to leave the page I’m on. I can finish reading, then visit the new page at my leisure. By the end of a few articles, I end up with a slew of pages open. Pages I haven’t yet seen. Somewhere along the way, either an extra window opened or a link had been hijacked because, as I finished articles and closed windows, I eventually found myself at the offending page.

It has a blue screen with a perfectly executed Windows warning box. I almost clicked it but then I looked closer and realized it was not an independent window generated by my computer as it appeared to be, but actually a graphic on the blue webpage. You NEVER click a graphic on a webpage unless you know where it’s taking you. I figured it was an advertisement for anti-virus software and closed the window instead of clicking OK. For a brief moment in time, I was smarter than Hal.

And how does one recover from an attack like this? Fortunately, Windows has a clever feature called System Restore found here: Start / Programs / Accessories / System Tools / System Restore. Newer versions of Windows create a restore point everyday. With System Restore, Hal was able to restore his computer to just a few hours before the erase!

Thank goodness we remembered this little rarely-used tool. When you open your computer and all your data is gone, your mind goes as blank as your disk. Wha’ happened??? We also have a hard drive back-up. But System Restore was the most efficient and most recent. These days, you want to know about this feature! These days, you also need to know about…

Warning #2
You know those earth-friendly expensive-to-buy-but-cheap-to-run lightbulbs we are all using now? Read this. You will see them in, ahem, a new light…

Over the past two months, I’ve given up dairy because of this written by Jane Plant, PhD and author. I feel great since doing this, by the way: sinus troubles gone, no junk in my throat. I highly recommend it. I don’t even miss butter!

I went on this diet two weeks ago and it seems to be working. I’ve lost a couple of pounds and Saturdays are SO FUN. Yesterday I had two large orders of McDonald’s french fries with catsup. The salt almost stopped my heart. Thank goodness, I don’t have to do that again for at least a week.

We rarely eat red meat anymore because of this. We eat tons of fruits and vegetables, mostly because they are so abundantly available here and breathtakingly cheap.

We take vitamins, go to the gym 5 days a week, try to get plenty of sleep. Laugh a lot.

But the other day, before reading the lightbulb article, I broke a bulb in Ryan’s room. I swept it up, threw it in a trash can. Licked my finger to get up the really tiny pieces and throw those away… All that good healthy living reversed in an instant. It’d be funny if it weren’t so scary.

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