Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Rites of Passage

Last weekend my youngest daughter had her high school formal. This was an event of some significance in our family, as she is the last of our four children to finish her schooling.

She attended an all-girls catholic school, and the event very accurately reflected the values of this particular school community. They actually practice what they preach.

The graduation mass in the morning was opened with a "Welcome to Country" read by one of the aboriginal kids. She was accompanied by a father playing the didgeridoo. This fellow is a local bank manager. He is not aboriginal, but has learnt to play the didge. He did a great job.

In the group graduating was a real mixture of backgrounds. There were girls from Sudan, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands. My daughter's best mate is of Greek extraction.

At the formal in the evening, there was a great deal of competition around making a grand entrance. The girls managed to assemble a wide range of classic and exotic vehicles from which to alight with their partners at the designated place. The best I could do was to spruce up our family car, as my daughter's partner is still on "L" plates. Because of this, and fortunately for our father-daughter relationship, the issue of my loaning him my roadster didn't come up.

The highlight was provided by a couple of Papuan girls. Being boarders, they didn't have access to the networks of their local colleagues in terms of providing cars. They got around this by constructing a pseudo limousine out of cardboard. Two of them "drove" this replica down the street to the entrance of the hall. They stole the show.

Thinking about it, this richness of cultures is probably the greatest difference I detect between what happens now and the way the world was when I matriculated fifty-five years ago.

My other daughter lives in student accommodation in Brisbane where she is in the ethnic minority. Most of the students in her accommodation are Asian. Her best friend is Israeli. My son who studies in Adelaide shares digs with a Korean and a Chinese student. The other person is Australian, but he makes up for this by being a chef. My oldest son who also studies in Brisbane shares accommodation with two brothers who are of German descent. They're both multi-lingual. They happen to be his cousins, as their mother (my wife's sister) married a German bloke who emigrated.

None of my children see anything remarkable in this, and if you ask them, they are only barely conscious of background. They're more interested in a range of other issues, such as reliability of their roommates in terms of contributions for rent and food. One thing hasn't changed – students still live in splendid poverty.

Currently our baby is at schoolies. It leaves me wondering where the last seventeen years went..............

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