Crisis Averted

“I think we may have a fit coming on. Can you come downstairs?”

That was Karen, last night, calling up to me as I brushed my teeth. Nate had done something to his iPod, his second iPod (see “iPod Obituary” from June).

“Send him up,” I answered, but knew I’d better head down to the scene of the catastrophe.

In the kitchen, Nate showed me his beloved iPod. The screen was black save the white Apple apple. Ominously, there was a hollow elongated oval. What had he done? It was not a simple reboot.

“What did you do Nate?”

“I reset the settings, but without changing my data,” he told me, his eyes watery and his face softly scared. He was a deer in the headlights, not knowing exactly what was transpiring.

“Nate, did you reset it to factory settings?” I knew if he’d done that it was game over, everything would be erased.

“No I didn’t. It said my files were saved.” That didn’t sound right.

“Did you make that part up?”

“I did.”

There was nothing to do but wait it out. We stared at the white bar and watch it progress with creeping slowness.

iPhone Screenshot 1

Sometimes obsessive behavior is hard to quantify, described in statements like “My son is really into Disney.” Here are some hard numbers. Since the June death of Nate’s first iPod, he’s created 2,203 Notes and 6,389 Photos from the goofy food apps frequents. That’s 1,718.4 items per month, approximately 57 per day. That’s obsession.

While we waited, Nate slightly unraveled. He pulled out many of his catchphrases that come with anxiety. There’s “Fix it! Fix it!” that is repeated in the same semi-monotone. There’s “Can I have any cookies?” which he says he asked me once after I told him not to have a fit. After a certain amount of tolerating the dopey words, I invariably say “Stop.” Nate immediately follows with “Now dance” and breaks out into the most silly moves. It’s nearly impossible to keep a straight face, but the laughs are a mix of amusement and frustration. It’s one of the many confused reactions I have when I deal with Nate.

Thankfully, when the iPod restarted, all of his files were intact and he, and we, were much relieved. With genuine warmth, Nate gave me a big hug and thanked me for my help. I hadn’t done anything but prepare for the worst. Certainly I’m thrilled that a complete Nate collapse was avoided, but I came face to face with a scary realization. Tantrums, and the fear of them, look like they’ll always be part of our life.

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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