Romeo & Juliet Text Messaging

essay, non-fiction 23 Comments »

text-messagingDost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.
Benjamin Franklin
(via Loren P Matthews)

A curve ball came my way about three weeks ago.  I share this not to hang out the family laundry, but in hopes that this story will help teenagers and parents understand that there are other dangerous risks of text messaging besides driving and texting.

In mid January I had this instant intuitive mom flash of my 15 year old son skipping school.  With this “vision” in my head, I decided to drive over to his high school.  About a block from the school, off campus, I saw my son playing hacky sack with some other kids.  Playing hacky sack is not such a big deal, but my son was supposed to be in class and he is behind in school.

Of course he saw my car, with the words “LOVE” and “BE THE CHANGE” on the windows and he cringed.  His shoulders dropped as he approached my car.  I put the window down.  “What class are you missing?” I asked.  “You know how embarrassing this is?” he asked.  “Go to class and I won’t ‘embarrass’ you.”  He turned and headed for the school.

Jumping ahead to just after dinner that evening~my son sat in his room doing his homework.  I popped my head in to see how the homework was coming along.  It wasn’t.  He sat as his desk, text messaging.  I put my hand out and said, “The phone is mine until the homework is finished.”  He handed me the phone and I turned it off.

At 10:30pm someone rang our doorbell.  My husband and I had just gotten into bed.  We both looked at each other as we NEVER have visitors this late.  My husband went downstairs.  All I could hear was: Yes sir.  No problem sir.  Then I heard my husband come up the stairs and enter my son’s bedroom.  “Wake up.  The police are here and want to speak with you.”

I flew out of bed and followed my son and husband downstairs.  Two policemen stood in my dining room.  They asked my son if he’d sent any text messages to his girlfriend that might cause concern.  My son said no.  The police asked for the cell phone, which I quickly handed over to them.  They found a text message from my son to his girlfriend that said he was going to end his life.

From there, the police did an on the spot check to see if my son needed to be taken to the hospital.  After a half hour or so, the police determined that he was not a threat to himself, and asked that we make an appointment with a therapist.

After the police left, my son and I spoke at some length.  He felt that he was so far behind in school that failure was inevitable.  Immediately I let him know how much I love him and that ending his life wasn’t the answer.  I allowed my son to try and reach his girlfriend as it was clear that she had called the police.  It was late and he received no answer.

The following morning, I offered to my son that he could stay home from school given we’d been up so late the night before.  He declined the offer.  I drove him to school and returned home.  Within twenty minutes my son text messaged me to please come get him from school, that he couldn’t handle it.  There were three back to back messages that sounded panicked.  I called the dean of students and asked that they locate my son and that I was coming to the school.

My son sat in the office of the dean of students.  The dean and he were talking about the anxiety he was feeling.  And the dean recommended that we go to the hospital to get my son checked out.   At first my son agreed and then he changed his mind.  The dean left the office, saying she’d be right back.  My son burst into tears.  I held him, told him I loved him and that everything would be all right.  The dean returned with the school social worker who asked my son several pointed questions and then she left the room.  Within a few minutes the social worker returned saying that either I take my son to the hospital or an ambulance would come to take him to the hospital.  I would take my son to the hospital.

As my son and I were leaving the school, my son received a text message from his girlfriend’s mother.  His girlfriend  slit her wrists, was in the hospital, and she was going to be all right.  Because I’d taken my son’s phone the previous night and turned it off, my son was unable to respond to his girlfriend’s text messages that followed his threat.  So she thought he had ended his life and then attempted to end hers.

There are no words to describe the feeling that both my son and I felt.  As we drove to the hospital, another text message arrived, saying that the girlfriend’s father had canceled a long awaited visit with her just prior to my son’s text message of wanting to end his life.

There are a multitude of lessons here, not the least of which is that nothing is worth taking one’s life.  Another lesson for me is that the next time I confiscate my son’s phone, is that he tells his friends with whom he is texting that his mean old mom has taken his phone for the rest of the evening.  Also our children’s friends need to have our land line phone numbers and our cell phone numbers.  And our children need to have land line numbers and cell numbers of their friends’ parents.

Very importantly, text messaging is NOT the way to communicate serious issues.  This is not the way to break up with someone, to let someone know that someone has died, or any other news that can cause someone distress.  Face to face or eye to eye communication is ideal; ear to ear via the telephone/cell phone live talking communication would come next.  Unless one’s life is in danger and there is NO other way to communicate, save text messaging for the short notes like “See you tomorrow” or “Don’t forget your homework” or “I love you.”

In my home and my son’s girlfriend’s home, we are all counting our blessings and getting our children the help they need.

nannette

Share
Tags: , , , , , ,