Mountain Family: Romeo, Juliet and the urge to text
Vail, CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, COLORADO ” Romeo and Juliet may be a romantic pair, but a modern update could do another take on the story solely on what a pain in the ass they were to their parents.
The balcony scene would be replaced with multiple instances of the lovers texting each other on their cell phones, followed by an outraged Lord Capulet waving the Verizon bill at Juliet while Romeo works doubles at Chili’s to pay his own texting fees. All the mooning, wailing and pouting would take place online, with Juliet fulminating to her friends on her MySpace page about her dumb parents and Romeo zapping pictures of Juliet to his buddies via iPhone.
The bottom line here is that, oftentimes, kids get a lot less fun when they start dating. In our family, we have one daughter who’s just broken off a long-term, live-in relationship; a son whose on-again, off-again girlfriend attends school on the opposite end of the world (the Front Range); another daughter who spends a lot of time frustrated at guys too timid to ask her out; and a son who wants to ask out a special girl but can’t work up the nerve.
For the kindergartner, girls are a passing distraction that sometimes get his attention (although I keep telling him he can’t say his fellow 6-year-olds are “hot”) but usually don’t rise above the interest level commanded by his oft-dying tropical fish.
I sympathize with Lords Montague and Capulet, and I appreciate greatly the attempts made in earlier generations to control mating behavior amongst the offspring. In the case of our 16-year-old with the long-distance thing going on, it looks like someone repeatedly driving a car into a wall; back up, do it again, repeat, moan, pine, moon, languish … and text, text, text. We’d love to issue a cease-and-desist command, but we’d run the risk of A) being laughed at and B) compelling him to increase the speed at which he propels aforementioned Love Bug into the wall. The best we can do is take the cell phone when his lovelorn-induced surliness reaches crescendo.
This electronic grounding, of course, is sort of a “nuclear option” for a teenager ” the equivalent of removing the trellis from Juliet’s balcony while taping Romeo’s mouth shut and leaving him trussed up in the corner. If you think your teen was a problem when he was focusing all ” and I do mean all ” attention on the 4-inch piece of plastic and electronics, just wait to see what he’s like when you take it away for a day or two. Images of hungry sharks attacking a bloody goat tossed in the water come to mind. And when you hand it back, use an oven mitt to avoid being wounded by eagerly clutching fingers. Yes, puberty and all the dating stuff takes the kids out of our realm and into another, more complicated place that’s rarely as fun as endless rounds of Playstation games or lining up Matchbox cars or Polly Pockets. There are moments, it seems, when a positive dating experience occurs, but all too often they seem immediately followed by something terrible, traumatic and earth-rending.
This is the way it was, is and always will be, and who knows why. And we know that no amount of comfort, consultation, exhortation or expressed frustration will sway these Romeos and Juliets from their assigned paths: Run car into wall, back up, repeat. Moan, moon, pine, ache and text, text, text. Regardless of the time and technology, some day something good may yet emerge from the wreckage.
Managing Editor Alex Miller can be reached at 748-2920 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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