The End Of The World?
The R.E.M. song was a cracker, but off the mark, both in 1999 and 2019.
Can you remember back to 1999, when all we read about was how everything was going to turn to, well, you know, when the Y2K bug took hold of planet earth? The worst case scenario was everything would basically shut down and we’d back in the land of the caveman. Long story short, it was all just a big puff of wind. Barely anything happened. I think I had to reset my clock radio. My favourite part of this story was the competition Sydney Radio station 2MMM ran, regarding which song they’d play as the first tune of the new millennium, if indeed they were still on the air! From our ‘world’s best’ Sydney fireworks campout spot at Cremorne Point, we were tuned in at midnight 2000 as they cheekily played “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” by REM. All for nothing. Life went on. Well played Y2K doomsday people.
Cut to September 2019, and again It’s The End Of The World As We Know It for the guy typing this column. Wooooo Hooooo! The last kid in our tribe just attended his final day of school! He hasn’t exactly been the highest-of-maintenance child on his journey from paddock to plate, and we are so enormously proud of him and everything he’s done. But there’s a funny sense of relief and ambiguity as we contemplate yet another part of our lives that’s done and dusted. I can still hear those first screams from kid #1 as he popped out all those years ago – what happened to all that time? I must have blinked. Doing some quick math says we’ve paid 42 years of (pre-school to Year 12) combined school fees for three kids. Whilst the sting of University fees and associated costs will still be with us for probably another half a decade, the ‘graduation’ for the mum and the dad is just as important as the one for the kid walking down the carpet to receive his honorary diploma. There’s a pretty big pile of teachers, mentors, instructors, ‘wingmen’ and associates who all deserve hearty pats on the back and hugs for everything they’ve done above-and-beyond the call of duty to help see those kids through their schooling years. If you’re reading this and you made a contribution to any graduating kid this week, then give yourself a hug. They made it. I’m sure everyone else doing the woo-hoo this week would be thinking the same thing. I reckon that’s one of the best things with giving your kids a country education – everyone who has an effect on them is close, on tap, available and immersed in the town and the lives of everyone around them.
A host of ‘lasts’ for us. The last school lunch, the last ironing of a white school shirt, no more school shoes, or textbooks, or A4 pads of ruled paper, no more ‘tidy up your room, mate’, no more ‘hurry up buddy, you’ll be late’. Are we supposed to be sad and reminiscent about (as Cat Stevens would say) the Days of The Ol’ School Yard, or is it just pigeonholed as another part of life shifted off to the backbench? This year saw us complete the Wall of Fame in our home office, with 42 individual framed photos in three lines of the tin lids on the wall, each from pre-school to Year 12. We’ve knocked. It’s over. Mic drop. Relief. Elation. Celebration. Uncertainty. Sadness. No regret. In summary, a cumulative 42 years of education becomes one smiley face emoji. J.
To finish off the line from that magic REM song “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It … and I feel fine”.