Romeo & Juliet Text Messaging

essay, non-fiction Add 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.


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23 Responses to “Romeo & Juliet Text Messaging”

  1. Stephanie Roth Says:

    What a powerful post. Many, many lessons to be learned. I’d love to talk with you about some other ways you can communicate with your son.
    Stephanie (The Relationship Maven)

  2. nannette rogers kennedy Says:

    Thank you, Stephanie. I’d be open to any advice ~ email me at

  3. Mary E. Kennedy Says:

    After reading this I just sat here and cried…I know your message is about texting but I feel like I haven’t been around Casey enough in his life. I love that kid, and its time we see more of each other. I love to make him laugh and I love the way he makes me laugh, (impersonating George W. Bush for starters). Tell him I don’t even know how to text and to tell you the truth I could care less if I ever learned how. I will call him soon, please let me know when he is ready…and we’ll maybe just go to a movie or whatever…And please tell him I’ll say some prayers for him, he’s way to smart of a kid to want to end his life, he has so VERY MUCH to offer and enjoy in this lifetime. Love you guys… Aunt Mary

  4. Mary E. Kennedy Says:

    One other thing, Nannette, you tell it like a true sad but learning love story.

  5. nannette rogers kennedy Says:

    Thanks Aunt Mary. I really did go back and forth on whether to put this “out there”. Casey is doing a lot better, but has a way to go. Let’s do coffee some morning this week…what’s Wednesday morning like for you or Friday morning. Love you. nannette

  6. Kevin King Says:

    Nannette that is a very sad Blog weren’t to know..proves that sometimes your gut feeling is correct..I hope his Girlfriend is okay now..Love is really the answer xoxo

  7. Roni Says:

    Sweet Angel, YOUr story has brought tears to my eyes.
    “Teen Land” as I call it and have writ about it, is a tough time for any child and parent to go through……racing hormones causing mass changes in personality, character, thoughts and feelings, everything sooooo much grander, bigger, heavier, loftier…..not to mention the affects that such changes have on any of the relationships our teens are involved within – famillial & friend……
    It’s like PMS OVERDRIVE for 5 YEARS

    I hear what yar saying regarding our current means of communication………I DO have a feeling that when Mr. Graham Bell introduced ALL of WE to the technology of phone conversations/communication, there were many whom claimed this means of communication to BE “the wrong way” to communicate and that “face-face” is the ONLY way to effectively have a conversation.

    I must admit, I AM definitely a supporter of educating and training ALL of WE to communicate more NATURALLY ~ as we ALL have the ability to so DO telepathically… that ALL is ENERGY……
    I must also admit, I tend to BE the last to adopt the new technologies and thus am in a position of complete understanding…….as I have pondered these very things mySELF…….
    some of that pondering has led for me to question mySELF ~ denying that which IS….putting down that which IS BEcause, alike those whom were here BEfore Mr. Bell, that which NOW IS, was NOT BEfore………

    Texting IS a means of communicating, as are emails, live chats, and the like…….

    I think MORE IMPORTANTLY than the means & modalities by which our Universal Family are communicating is to ensure that we are taking responsibility for that which we are “response able” for, which also means, NOT taking responsibility for those things, actions, outcomes, that are within the hands of another.

    It is TRAGIC what happened to YOUr son’s girlfriend…….very reminiscent of Juliette & Romeo, n’est ce pas?
    Yet, akin with their story and the lack of communication that occurred there……one can NOT blame and definitely should NOT feel guilty for the ACTions taken by another’s hand of another’s CHOOSing, another’s thoughts and feelings.

    YOUr son’s girlfriend CHOSE to “BE Juliette” in this circumstance….she could have just as easily – with a different CHOICE in perception and thus response, CHOSEn to BE, let’s say, “Wonder Woman” and ran over with the police to “save the day”……..
    Her ACTions are a commentary on HER state of BEingness…..long BEfore any “missed text message”…….

    And if that is the “MORE Important” message, than the MOST IMPORTANT message in ALL of this to ALL IS to BE the shining example of Motherhood, Parenthood, Family, LOVE that YOU have so lovingly displayed for ALL of WE here in this summary.

    YOU are involved in YOUr son’s life, YOU take interest, YOU are there, present and YOU communicate with him – as difficult as communicating with our teens can BE……there is much LOVE expressed within YOUr words, with respect to ALL parties involved, and whether family, friends, acquaintances or complete strangers, that IS the MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE of ALL……
    to BE LOVE……..
    to BE the example of LOVE ~
    most especially BEcause there are others of our Universal Family members whom DO lose sight {as DO WE ALL}, of what BEing LOVE IS………and it is for those of WE whom have NOT lost sight to illuminate the pathway upon which we ALL travel, together :)

    I AM Blessed to have shared in this experience with YOU, as are ALL of WE, for in so DOing YOU have provided for ALL of WE the Opportunity to expand our United LOVE exponentially :)

    With Big Hugs of LOVE’s Light & Deep Bows of Gratitude my Sweet Earth Angel Divine,
    I AM
    sending forth MASS Energy of LOVE to fulfill YOUr {& ALL of our} HIGHest HAPPIness in Every NOW, ALLways, embraced within the grace of Unconditional LOVE.

    Blessedly BE
    Rhonda Sheryl Lipstein/roni

  8. Jessica Holmes/Wilson Says:

    Hi Aunt Nannette,
    I am so sorry and give Casey our love. I was so upset to have heard this, but glad that you posted it, because this is so important. I am praying that Casey and his girlfriend are alright, and I know in my heart that he will be. He is needed here, by all of us, even though we live far away. Please tell him that I love him very much!!!!! He has so much to offer and is still so young. Sometimes just being a teenager is hard enough, so many mixd emotions and body changes, as we have all been there. But life is short enough, and we each have one to live!! I think that you were very observant to have realized the full potential of texting and the dangers it can cause, but also how important it is for the communication. I love you guys, and just keep kissing him and telling him how much he has to offer to this earth and that we love him!!!!! If you need anything I am here, even if you wanted to send him out for a while. I love you and my prayers are with you always. <3 <3 <3

  9. Phil Cates Says:

    Hello Nannette, my great friend Al Killeen forwarded me your blog post. Through your words I felt as though I stood beside you during those horrifying moments.

    Your experience took me back 17 years when then my oldest son was 18. Matt was a victim of divorce with a father not paying enough attention to him during those challenging years of life.

    Strung out on drugs, he helped his 15 year old girl friend escape from the misery she dealt with by taking her away from her parent’s home. After three days of MIA I discovered where they were hiding. Matt was uncooperative for my plea to return her, a minor; as an 18 year old adult he could faced severe consequences.

    For both their sakes, I did what I had to do-call the cops. After the police had taken the girl back to her home, Matt called me. Under the threat of death for interfering in his life, I once again did what I had to do to protect my wide, 2 year old son and myself-call the cops regarding his intentions.

    Those were very dark days in his and my life; thank god his struggle towards maturity had a happy ending, like Casey’s did.

    As tough as life can be for Casey, Matt, and the rest of us, we will succeed if we truly believe we can. At age 15 it’s difficult to comprehend 75-85 more years of experiences are just around the corner. A single experience, or particular periods in our life do not define the rest of our life if we don’t allow it to. We all have made mistakes, and will continue to do so. They’ll just be different kinds of mistakes, less frequent, and less dramatic.

    As I learned last year after experiencing the removal of my right kidney, as a result of cancer, life is very precious. After review of my kidney pathology report, I found that the golf ball size cancer tumor was only a half centimeter from two blood veins; one to my lymph node, the other to my adrenal gland.

    A half centimeter separates all of us from life and death, triumph and tragedy, right and wrong, happiness and depression. Everyone’s life is delicate, not to be taken for granted. Life can vanish in a half centimeter; only for the grace of god so go I.

    Hang in there Casey, Nanette, Dad, girlfriend and her parents; you’ll all find the path to tomorrow. Most importantly, don’t take this event personally. For thousands of years, humanity has dealt with such issues; Shakespeare just brought it to our attention.

    My 2 year old son, now 18, defines texting and tweets as: “high-tech smoke signals”.

  10. nannette rogers kennedy Says:

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Phil. You have certainly had your fair share of like-experience. I so love your response from start to finish. Especially this:

    As I learned last year after experiencing the removal of my right kidney, as a result of cancer, life is very precious. After review of my kidney pathology report, I found that the golf ball size cancer tumor was only a half centimeter from two blood veins; one to my lymph node, the other to my adrenal gland.

    A half centimeter separates all of us from life and death, triumph and tragedy, right and wrong, happiness and depression. Everyone’s life is delicate, not to be taken for granted. Life can vanish in a half centimeter; only for the grace of god so go I.

    Any doubts that I have had regarding sharing this story have all but disappeared because of responses like yours and others. We are all in this life together and sharing like-experiences not only reminds us that we are not alone, but also allows the opportunity to learn from one another.

    With blessings and gratitude,

  11. nannette rogers kennedy Says:

    Thank you sweet Jess~it is good to know that many are keeping us in their prayers. Ah the journey of the teenage years…I love you all, always have, always will.
    aunt nannette

  12. nannette rogers kennedy Says:

    Dear Roni,

    You are an angel. Teen land…I, myself, could write a book on that subject, from both a parent’s perspective and my own experiences as a teenager. They are rough years and thankfully that phase is only a phase. I love that you pointed out that the girlfriend “chose” to act on what she did. We all are in charge of our choices. Thank you for taking the time to write such a loving reply.
    many blessings and tons of gratitude,

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  14. Bruce Says:

    Nannette that is a very sad Blog weren’t to know..proves that sometimes your gut feeling is correct..I hope his Girlfriend is okay now..Love is really the answer xoxo

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  21. nannette rogers kennedy Says:

    Dear Onggo~you are welcome! Life steers us on these circuitous routes in life that allow for us to intersect at just the perfect moments.

    peace to you,

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