It is 9:09pm on the eve of "Australia's biggest party". I am already in my pyjamas, my children are safely tucked in bed and I am glad I have a long time to wait before I have to personally worry about Schoolies. But there are plenty of mums and dads around Queensland whose stomachs are aswarm tonight. Firstly, because their bundles finish school forever tomorrow and secondly, and probably more significantly, their little ones will most-likely attend some sort of Schoolies celebration.
Here's a Preparing Your Baby (and yourself!) for Schoolies list:
Have a planMake sure you and your child know where they will be, who they will be with, how they will get there and how they will be paying for it. This is not being overprotective, it's being responsible and encouraging your child to do the same.
Discuss, truthfully, the risksWhen I say truthfully, I mean be honest: Don't gloss over the potential problems but don't unnecessarily embellish them either. When they see things on the news about Schoolies, talk about them. One big, long lecture is probably ineffective here, so opt for several incidental conversations over the months leading up to the event.
Help your son or daughter come up with a plan for specific situationsWhat are they going to do if their friend has passed out? What are they going to do if they're offered drugs? What are they going to do if they've lost one of their group?
Encourage them to set some boundaries for their own behaviour that weekExplain to them what you think is acceptable behaviour. Help them to strategise how they're going to stick to their own boundaries in a pressured situation.
Tell them that no matter what happens, you will rescue themIf they are in trouble, hurt, sick or have done something stupid, they need to know that they can call you. When you tell your responsible teenager, "Call me if you need me", they will scoff and laugh, because they probably won't need you but it will help them to know you'll be there for them.
Parents, most teenagers at Schoolies are sensible and responsible; they have the time of their lives and are safe. But to ensure the best chance of this happening, start preparing them now. Then, this time next year, you may not have those butterflies swarming around in your tummy.
Who am I kidding? You still will.