It’s been a pretty momentous week in the Whitehouse, with number one (and only) son embarking on the next exciting phase of his education – university.
The past couple of years have been intense, as any parent of a teenager would understand. It seems that once they turn 16, it’s party central and with that comes the difficult and often fractious issue of parental permission to attend certain parties.
The “evil parents won’t let me go” was used occasionally for those parties that he really didn’t want to go to but didn’t want to admit that, but then there were others that he really, really wanted to attend because everyone else in the universe was going.
Mum: “I don’t know these people – you can only go if I talk to the parents and make sure there’ll be no alcohol, and parents will be there and ….”
Son: “Awwww mum, no way, that’s so embarrassing, you can’t do that, no other parents will ring, awwww mum, come on.”
This particular party ended with kids vomiting in the garden bed and fighting on the footpath – not my son, of course, because much to his annoyance I insisted on picking him up on the dot of 11.30 (and yes, I did ring the parents beforehand who assured me the party would be strictly supervised – yeah, right).
Since then we’ve dealt with the pressures of learning to drive (easy, leave it to his father) and then the ultimate freedom, the P-plates (on one of Wollongong’s wettest days in centuries – well, maybe years).
He found himself a part-time job to which he could drive, he survived the stress of the HSC, attained the ATAR required and was accepted into the course he wanted.
However, we were devastated when son turned 18 and we no longer had a teenage P-plater eager to drive anywhere for any excuse, who hadn't minded taking his parents to the club, parties, the club, to dinner, to the club, etc.
Instead we found we had a young man who has the world at his feet. In the past few months he’s discovered the intricacies of Wollongong’s nightlife and where to go on what night, he’s still getting used to being able to buy alcohol in bottle shops and he’s learned all about the importance of being in a shout (easy, ask his father).
In moves that almost made the Blogosaur cry with envy, he had no problems whatsoever finding his way around the uni website to ensure he got into the lectures and tutorials that suited HIS timetable. He was in faster than a speeding bullet.
However, when he drove into the hallowed grounds of the University of Wollongong for the first time, he must have almost set a record for the first student dumb enough to get a parking ticket.
He did have excuses, but was man enough to fess up, hand over the hundred bucks to pay the ticket and ask mum (hello, the Blogosaur??) to pay it.
But see, this is what gets me. I have a son who’s 18, bright, enthusiastic and about to start university and I’m terrified he suddenly can’t read. Sure he can find his way around a computer like a pro, can text faster than the wind and find fascinating stuff on the internet, but he can’t read a parking fine?
When I opened it – as he must have done to find the fine was $100 – all that leapt out at me was huge red letters saying WARNING ONLY and NO PAYMENT IS REQUIRED and WARNING ONLY. You get the picture.
I’m just sorry the Blogosaur was too slow to just pocket the $100 and teach number one son a vital lesson – don’t park where you shouldn’t and, as I’ve told him before every exam he’s ever done, read all the way through and make sure you understand what’s in front of you before you leap into it.
It just goes to show that even though you can navigate your way through every form of technology known to man, if you can’t read properly and thoroughly, then the Blogosaur still has one up on you.
Chalk one up for the oldies!
Jen White is a 40-something journo who yearns for the good old days but is realistic enough to know she has to catch up with the rest of the world - one day.