You psych yourself up for a lot of things when you become a parent, sleepless nights, attitude issues, everything being sticky all the time. But nothing can prepare you for award nights. Especially not private school ones.
The week starts off with that of the Muffet’s school, who has a Year 3 to Year 12 ceremony at the Opera House. At first I thought they were doing it to show off, but when we got there I realised that the sheer number of people involved meant the venues you could hold this kind of thing at were pretty limited.
Because we live in Sydney it takes us an hour to travel the eight kilometres to the Opera House by bus. Once there we pick seats up the back so we can have a refreshing doze before the speeches kick off. The Muffet deserts me to sit and giggle and whisper with Lindy Lu, a few rows back. Proceedings are opened by a very impressive pipes and drums performance, I love bagpipes and am devoutly glad they are not played by any of my children. The head of the foundation that administers the school hauls himself to his feet and spends twenty minutes telling the outgoing Year Twelve that it’d be rather good to be nice to people. He is followed by the headmaster, who does a very similar thing, only addressed to all the girls. He introduces the special guest speaker as “a Christian woman”, all the way from Chicago, who is studying the lives of women at the time of Christ. He doesn’t want us to labour under the impression that he’d invite an infidel to address our precious daughters, especially not an Australian one. She holds us spellbound with a learned dissertation on how difficult it is to tell whether Roman women sat on chairs or lay on the lounge when eating with their husbands. She seamlessly segues into a thirty second rap on how lucky those present are not to be shot in the head for going to school like that poor girl in Pakistan. The only bright moments in the whole shebang are the musical interludes by students that are quite terrific and the outgoing school captain’s speech which is essentially that you should try to be cheery and if you’ve worked really hard you should reward yourself with a Tim Tam. All the Muffet got out of this was that school captains eat Tim Tams. Would it kill the adults to throw in a few jokes?
The Horror’s awards morning is a lot more snappy. The headmaster speculates on who is going to win the book being run by the staff on how long his speech will be. The head of school, who has a voice like a sergeant major and a haircut to match astonishes the boys with a story about when he was little they only had a black and white TV that only his father was allowed to operate. He also massages his face quite a lot during the music which haas a pretty shaky start, but finishes strongly. It’s always risky to get a lot of little boys to sing a round.
We’ve just come home from the Moose’s evening. None of my kids have won prizes this year, so once again I can sit up the back and let my attention wander. This was at the Town Hall, and they may want to consider using the Opera House too, so they don’t need to crowbar parents into corners and alcoves in that crenellated building. Nice and squeezy. The adults once again make worthy speeches, but at least they’re not all smooth platitudes, and they get in a few laffs. I did appreciate the head of the school council, finding himself without the appropriate award to hand over to a community worthy, handing over his mobile phone instead, then rounding off with “well that’s it, I’m off”. The prize for dux of Year 7 was awarded in memory of a child in the nineteen forties who had been dux of Year 7 and dropped dead of heart failure shortly after. And we think we put our kids under too much pressure. I do wonder how the Year 11 prize for Altruism is decided, and how it differs from the Year 11 prize for Citizenship. I think about investing a prize for Year 7 boy who only Pulls his Finger Out Late in the Year, but it would be too late for the Moose. The music was really outstanding, they want to get these kids out on the street with a hat. Bring our fees down.
Now I have to work out what to do with the lot of them for the next two months. There’s only so much watching TV and eating ice cream that one can do.