IT’S SEE YA LATER TO THE GRADUATING CLASS OF 2018. BUT THE NEXT TEST TO REACH ADULTHOOD IS TO SEE HOW THEY HANDLE THE INFAMOUS SCHOOLIES CELEBRATION
It’s the time of year where parents hope that all the time they’ve invested into their kids teaching them about self-respect and peer pressure has sunk in. There’s no doubt that some media outlets love to beat up the stories behind the Schoolies Week debauchery, but from my experience, it is those same news outlets that are initiating the conflict. They were hungry to get a story, hiding in bushes to capture a little scuffle and then making it into a big story that borrowed a small part of the truth and embellished the rest. Listen, as a parent, I get it. There’s a lot of stress surrounding schoolies but you can’t helicopter your kids. They need time to make mistakes and you can only hope those mistakes don’t negatively affect the rest of their lives. That said, if you can’t get over the fear of what might happen, there are plenty of other options for schoolies – just Google it. It doesn’t always have to be about getting smashed and other forms of debauchery. I think the graduates in more recent years have got that, too. They seem smarter and more responsible than when I graduated. There’s the Kids’ Helpline, but I was thinking there should be a parents’ helpline to help them get through the anxiety of sending their kids to Schoolies. Well, it turns out there is one. Here’s the Parentline number: 1300 30 1300.
Some cultures charter their rite of passage from youth to adulthood with rituals, tests of courage, feats of strength, wit and skill. And if you consider these elements: trying to book a hotel room in Surfers Paradise for 16 mates, smuggle in various items of contraband and convince your parents to pay for it, you tick all those boxes. Schoolies Week has been around since the ’70s when graduating school leavers would travel from nearby boarding schools to the Broadbeach Hotel for a week of revelry and shenanigans. Now, more than 50,000 school leavers from around the country hit up Surfers to see and be seen at the biggest blue light disco you’ve ever seen, massively sanitised these days with an ominous police and rent-a-cop presence. I can’t think of anything worse. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe I am missing something. The attraction to the Gold Coast baffles me. Like a moth to a flame, surely the moth knows it ain’t gonna end well. But peer pressure and sheep mentality still rule the majority and ultimately the passage from youth to adult is what it is all about. Perhaps that’s it: Schoolies wakes you up to just how cr-p following the flock to the GC is and prevents you from making similar mistakes in life. Now a dad with a few years left to prepare to be on the other side of the Schoolies story, I can already feel the pang of not wanting to disappoint my daughter by saying she can’t go, not give her the credit to make good decisions or let her go and hope for the best. None of the above really appeal. Surely she can be bribed … how about overseas travel? I’ll have to start saving up now.
After 13 years of schooling, there has to be a reward and for graduates. Schoolies is the perfect place to let your hair down. While mum and dad are busy worrying about their kids heading to Surfers Paradise, the kids are busy working part-time through school, just so they can pay the bond that they’ll never get back. Many parents like to dangle the carrot and say, “If you don’t go to schoolies, I’ll take you on an overseas holiday or I’ll buy you a new car”. I actually know some people who said “no” because they would rather have gone to Schoolies. What? I would take an overseas holiday any day. I never went to Schoolies, I had no interest in it. I had more opportunities than you could poke a stick at (which I’m super thankful for). I had just changed swimming coaches, I was also offered up a college swimming scholarship to go over to the States to train and race (which I didn’t take) and then on top of that, I was also training for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Trials. So, partying at Schoolies was the last thing I was thinking about. But, I lived vicariously through my friends. Sunbaking on the beach at Surfers and getting dolled up to go down to the hub at night. I felt like I was there, but still somewhat so happy that I got to go to sleep in my own bed at night and wake up with no hangover. Even though Schoolies doesn’t have a great reputation, I think it’s still a great concept that the Year 12s can go out with a bang before they prepare for the next chapter of their lives.