Tim Minchin

That’s odd, I think as I wipe sand off the dining table that doubles as a desk for one of my HSC children.

We are now five days off the first HSC exam and I feel the need to reply to the terrific piece in Monday’s SMH written by Lily – the ATAR “is just a number” – Peshardt who on reflection (she is now at Uni) sagely advises that the HSC “exams that were once the epicenter of my universe are condensed to nothing more than a sentence in my resume.”

I am the proud mother of twins sitting this year’s HSC and I mean it when I say I’m proud. But…. I have to say, while I don’t disagree with Lily, HSC is as a good time a time as any to push oneself and study hard.

So back to the sand on the table – other than the dining table the other favoured place to study is the local municipal library. The library’s harbourside location allows for a refreshing dip after hours of slog on the books; hence the sand on the desk/table. It is just ‘the hours of slog on the books’ that this snoopy mad-mother would like to clarify. Am I the only parent in town who prays for blizzards and bad weather? Sydney’s hottest September on record has not helped MY study plans for the girls, nor my vision of pasty and pimply students glued to their desks.

To be fair there is probably not a lot we can do about our kids’ study habits but if I hear another Mother say: “what will be will be,” or “it’s up to them” I may go even madder. Yes it’s up to them but sometimes a bit of Tiger Mother is needed so our beloved babies realize that they too have responsibilities – to their classmates, school, parents, of course to themselves and to a certain extent, to their bloody good fortune.

He may not realize it but I felt that this was part of what Tim Minchin was saying in his address to the graduates of the University of Western Australia. Minchin gave the graduates 9 life lessons that were so crunchy and true they sounded and tasted like freshly picked apples. To me he spoke volumes of philosophical good stuff; stuff you sadly would never hear from any of our country’s leaders.

Tim spells out the “lucky idea” by saying – “Remember it’s all luck, you are lucky to be born…lucky to be brought up by a nice family… lucky to be made of the DNA that allows you to make good decisions. You can’t truly take credit for your successes, or truly blame others for the failures. And failures will humble you and make you more compassionate. Empathy is intuitive but it is also something we can work on intellectually.”

My favourite part of Minchin’s speech was “You will sometimes be happy and sometimes be sad. Then you will be old and then you’ll be dead. Life is best filled by learning as much as you can, about as much as you can and taking pride in whatever you are doing.” And best of all, “don’t take for granted your education. Rejoice in what you learn, and spray it.”

Wouldn’t it be great if the video clip of Minchin’s address went viral; like the one of the bear trying to sit on a chair, or ouch Charlie bit my finger!

I want to thank Tim for his support. I am pretty sure his talk was not designed to help me and the other mad mothers out here in HSC land. Buoyed by Minchin it feels okay for me to suggest to my children that they extend themselves; bang on about balancing work, rest and play, and on occasion, knit my eyebrows querulously at their “I’ve worked ALL DAY” claims.

I can’t say that Minchin would back me when the Tiger Mother in me showed her true stripes and confiscated the girls’ bikinis.
Don’t worry they will get them back on November 7.

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