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Roads from me on the mi­cro­phone, but on the plus side, he was prob­a­bly the ben­e­fi­ciary of an im­promptu whip-round along the way — some­thing that, back then, seemed com­pul­sory on all buses that didn’t have a num­ber on the front.

Com­pare his ex­pe­ri­ence, though, with that of the man who brought The Teenager and com­pany from a Debs ball in Tul­lam­ore — Tul­lam­ore! — back to Dublin at 7.30 last Thurs­day morn­ing. Ac­cord­ing to a mer­ci­fully re­li­able wit­ness, this man had to en­dure at least two fights (the boys) be­fore the rev­ellers even

Dis­patch­ing a 16year-old in high heels to a strange boy’s Debs was not a com­fort­able par­ent­ing mo­ment

em­barked on his bus, and another brace on the two-hour jour­ney home. He also bore wit­ness to a hell of a lot of cry­ing (the girls), at least two in­stances of vom­it­ing, and one en­thu­si­as­tic young buck en­deav­our­ing to en­list those few pas­sen­gers who re­mained up­right in a spir­ited ren­di­tion of The Bus Driver’s A W***er. I keep imag­in­ing that poor man’s frame of mind when the last of the party peo­ple stum­bled off his vomit-scented bus and into the cold morn­ing. I won­der if he was dream­ing of a bet­ter world, in which, per­haps, he is cap­tain of the sh*** boat.

Some­times, it takes an out­sider to point out that a lot of the stuff we do in this coun­try is just plain bonkers. The Hus­band, who comes from a place where Debs balls are the sole pre­serve of about a dozen toffs a year, has gone from idle be­muse­ment over our Debs tra­di­tion to, now that his daugh­ter’s in­volved, ut­ter horror. He sim­ply can’t be­lieve that any adult thinks it’s a good idea to dis­patch a cou­ple of hun­dred teenagers — at least half of whom are most likely un­der-age — to a ho­tel in the mid­dle of nowhere for an overnight stint of un­su­per­vised in­ten­sive drink­ing and danc­ing. That most of the adults com­plicit in this crazi­ness are ei­ther par­ents or teach­ers is, to him, as­ton­ish­ing.

Me, I am more am­biva­lent about the whole Debs thing. My own was a won­der­ful mile­stone event, the cul­mi­na­tion of two fever­ish years in which, aside from the pesky dis­trac­tion of the Leav­ing Cert, we quite lit­er­ally talked about noth­ing else. And per­haps be­cause I didn’t get sick or dumped, I want my own chil­dren to en­joy a sim­i­lar com­ing-of-age ex­pe­ri­ence at the end of their school life. But yes, I will con­cede that dis­patch­ing a 16-year-old in tee­ter­ing heels and a slashed skirt off to share in a strange boy’s overnight shenani­gans was not one of the more com­fort­able ex­pe­ri­ences of par­ent­hood. And that all the time she was gone, I was edg­ing ever closer to the Hus­band’s the­ory of bonkers.

But she came home; up­right, co­her­ent, and with only mi­nor dra­mas to re­port. And for my part, I moved back from bonkers to Part of What We Are. But hon­estly, try telling that to the un­for­tu­nate bus driver.

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