The Day the Wifi Went Down

                What do you do when your internet and wifi go down-completely and inexplicably- on the second day of a new school year, and your teen daughters need that connection for 90% of their homework, and your tech-savvy husband is away for 5 days?

                If you’re me, you panic.

                And send lots of texts to the husband in a panicky-sounding tone.  Stopping short of sending texts in all SHOUTY CAPITALS.   Because it’s not his fault he’s away when this happens.  But if it happens, it does when he’s away.

                Hence the panic.

                I don’t do so well when the tech stuff falls apart, but I can handle pretty much anything else that comes my way.

                Social crisis with one teen daughter?  Got it handled.

                All three kids have to be in three different places at 5 pm and no one can carpool?  No problem.

                How to feed everyone when they all have to be in different places?  Piece of cake.

                Nine year old has exhaustion meltdown after “holding it together” all day at school?  Simple.

                But the internet and wifi printer connection gone during prime homework time?  Can’t. Handle. Major. Catastrophe.  I understand this isn’t a Major Issue for everyone, just for me.  Mostly because technology and I get along so well.

                I first noticed a problem about 2:30 pm when my thirteen year old couldn’t log on to start her homework.

                She and her older sister submit most of their assignments through Google Docs, except for math. That, for now, is still done the old fashioned way with a paper and pencil.  She had a “mini project” due the next day, which required some research online, printing a couple of photos, and creating a display  on 8.5×11″ paper, with a specific rubric on margins, font size, photo size, etc.  Did I mention this was only the second day of school?

                We have five computers in the house and they were all completely useless.  I could access my photo library, but we couldn’t print anything because there was no wireless connection to the printer.  And the cable for the direct hookup to the printer was MIA. Of course it was.

                I spent the next few hours on the phone with my husband, alternately texting and calling him (when he wasn’t  in a meeting).  He walked me through turning off and on the wireless router, unplugging and plugging back in the modem about 5 separate times, and issuing various administrative commands to my laptop (that I don’t think I could replicate if my life depended on it).

                In the meantime, the nine year old came home from school, needed a snack and some guidance with his homework.  There were office forms to be filled out ASAP, because it’s the second day of school, in triplicate, for each of 3 schools, of course.  Somehow I managed to make dinner for all of us, cleaned up, drove the girls to their respective dance classes (which of course aren’t at the same time), and remembered to let the dog out.

                It was 7:30 pm, and still no Internet.

                By this time, said 13 year old had been using my phone for her online research and developed a slight headache from reading too much on a tiny screen.

                I somehow stumbled across the wireless hotspot that we have, and put that to work- it had also been MIA for a couple of weeks.  So then we had internet and email, but still couldn’t print anything.

                Cue one desperate call to my neighbor.  (I have the best neighbors- we call and text each other when we run out of ketchup or eggs, or need to borrow a glue gun or random craft supplies, or even a can opener.)

                I ask, Can we email a few photos and a Word document to you and would you be able to print them out for us?

                No problem, he’d said.

                So my daughter and her friend text back and forth as we send the emails over.  But even this didn’t  go smoothly.  The photos wouldn’t load properly, the size was all wonky and we couldn’t figure out how to adjust it. 

                Fast forward through several more attempts and more texting.  Finally, we found something that would work.

                It was 10:05 pm and I was afraid I’d exhausted my good graces with my neighbors.  We drove over and thanked them and apologized profusely at the same time.   Only later did I find out that my daughter’s friend was sick with food poisoning that night, helping us in between trips to the bathroom.

                As my daughter put together the puzzle pieces that made up this mini project , she worried that she was going to get points off because the border wasn’t exactly right and the picture wasn’t the correct size.

                I sighed and tried to comfort her.  And then I did something I’ve never had to do in over 11 years of having kids in school– I wrote a note to her teacher.  I explained the odd circumstances working against us and ask her to excuse some imperfections in the assignment, to grant her some latitude.  Even as I wrote it, I was shaking my head in disbelief.  It was the second day of school, and this was going to be the teacher’s first impression of us.  It sounded like a modern “my dog at my homework” excuse.  Excellent.

                And now, oldest daughter, who had also been using a phone for research and homework all evening,  asked for the umpteenth time if the internet or wireless was back up yet.  I told her she should text her friends and ask them for help if she has anything to print.

                It had been a long night.  A very long night, filled with frustration, tears, yelling… (not all of it coming from me),  and some wine.  Some wine helped. 

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