Lost Words

This past summer, my computer died. I had used it first thing in the morning before packing it up. The kids were at camp, and I had planned on working on my second novel (Hold Her Down) at a local coffee shop while I waited for them. But when I got to that coffee shop, the damn thing just beeped at me and would not turn on. While I had stored Good Intentions on a flash drive, I had the brilliant idea just to keep Hold Her Down on my laptop's hard drive. 65,000 words in and my damn computer wouldn't turn on. I tried not to panic. I had it somewhat backed up, but not completely. Lucky for me, I dodged a bullet when it turned out to be a blown mother board, leaving the hard drive intact and retrievable.

Today, we lost another piece of work. The emotions I'm feeling about this make my summer panic pale in comparison. My son, who is in 4th grade, was chosen to participate in his school district's Young Writers' Workshop. It is an honor for the 4th-6th graders to be chosen for this, and only about 10% of students get chosen. It is extracurricular work and children are chosen based upon the high quality of their writing skills.

As a writer myself, I have a huge amount of pride in my child for displaying excellent writing skills. But as a parent, well that is difficult to even express. My son has struggled with his communication skills since he was a baby. Along the way, he had been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Asperger's) and Attention Deficit Disorder. When he was very young, the majority of his speech was scripted from things he had heard. He used it in a very functional way to communicate his wants and needs. It showed us how incredibly intelligent he was (and is). But it was difficult for him to put his own words together. This difficulty with pragmatic speech has persisted, although it is not nearly as severe as it used to be. He used to use words in a not incorrect manner, but it just wasn't correct, either (like when he described Easter being about Jesus migrating to Heaven or a pot as being something that holds the liquid to make it warmer). For a very long time, I've had to act as his translator when he spoke, as it was just hard for people to understand him.

As he's gotten older, his ability to write has helped him form thoughts. When he first started writing for school, it came out just as disjointed as his speech. His wonderful educators and his father and I have worked very hard at teaching him internal organizational strategies to make his writing make sense. As his writing has improved, so has his overall communication.

So, being picked as an excellent writer means even more to us in light of what he has overcome.

His Young Writers' piece is due next Monday. He has been working on his play (this years topic) diligently, in addition to all of his school work. The school district has the kids using Google Docs to work on their documents. He just logs in and opens up his play and works on it. Apparently, all of the children district wide use the same Google Doc password and all have access to everyone's work.

Today, it was discovered that someone "trashed" several of the kids' works in progress. All of the "trashed" (that is the term the district is using) works are by kids in my son's school. They are totally missing from the website, although it is unclear if they were deleted or pulled down because they were defaced. My son's included. Since the kids were writing in Google Docs directly, most have no back up.

Some terrible, terrible person hacked into this system and destroyed my child's--our children's--hard work. I don't know why. Why would someone do this to these kids who have worked so hard?

I am trying not to panic. I'm hoping that we will get word that some of the work was backed up in the system somewhere along the way. I am trying not to let my son see my anger. But, believe you me, I am angry. I am angry that this was not set up in a better way. But more, I am angry that some person would sabotage 9, 10, and 11 year-olds work and creative process.  What kind of person would do this? I hope all the "Big Brother is watching" stuff is true and they can nail this slimebag.

I am just so angry that someone took my son's words. Words that we thought might never come. Words that let everyone else see what a bright, intelligent child he is. Words that might forever be lost.


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