Today’s been one of those days. Archie’s been summoned to Court and Alfie’s been sent to the Planning Room. I wouldn’t mind if my boys paced themselves through their dramas but they want me living on the edge and so when a storm hits, it’s more like a hurricane where I am in the middle of the eye.
Archie’s in court because he got a speeding fine. That he didn’t want to pay. Because it was around $200.00. The crime was committed around three months ago when he casually asked if he could borrow my ‘rice burner’, load it up with mates and swags and smelly bags they call ‘luggage’ and drive down to Goulburn to spend the weekend at Webb’s property.
‘Will you drive carefully?’ I asked.
‘Mum, when are you going to stop asking me that? I’ve never had an accident, I’ve never had a fine, I’ve never lost my license and I’m not a hoon*’. And off he went. With my car keys. And a carload of mates.
So as he was driving down a hill along an extremely straight stretch of highway, and despite the cruise-control being set at the speed limit of 110kms/hr, the rice-burner picked up speed and right at the bottom of the hill, hiding in bushes (standard) was a highway patrol car ready to menace drivers who are too young to know the tricks of the police. Archie heard the siren and saw the flashing lights racing (at a speed much higher than my rice-burner could ever manage), towards him.
The officer said he clocked Archie’s speed at 131kms/hr, 21kms over the speed limit. As it was a public holiday, it was also double demerits so he lost eight of his 12 points. Quite a blow.
Like a night gambling at a casino, Archie decided to not pay this fine and instead have his day in court.
This morning he was up very early for his court appearance. Listening to his mother’s advice, (reluctantly), he put on a suit and carried a folder with all his papers then took the rice-burner to Mossvale (90-minute drive) for his court appearance.
He was sitting in court for hours waiting for his turn and in that time and in his mind, he rehearsed an academy award-winning speech beginning with, ‘Your Honour, I stand before you as a young man convicted at the age of 20 of a speeding offence and I am not here today to try and convince you that my speeding offence wasn’t an unlawful act however, I am here today asking for the court’s leniency as I know there is a stereotype of 20-year old male drivers but I can assure you, Your Honour, that I do not fit that stereotype. I do not own my own vehicle, the only car I drive is my mother’s Honda Odyssey which is not a powerful car; I am not a hoon and nor, whenever I drive is it my intention to be reckless and a hazard on the roads. But Your Honour, as I drove down to Goulburn on that fateful day, my mind was consumed with my exam timetable and a copy of that timetable is with me today, and as I was driving I was thinking of my university studies and I believe there was a momentary lapse in my concentration whereby I took my eyes off the speedometer and became unaware of the car’s increasing speed.’ Or words to that affect.
The magistrate listened intently then said that on this occasion she would quash the fine, that Archie wouldn’t have to pay the court costs and that his points would be reinstated. Archie, all inspired by the courtroom adrenalin and theatrics said to me, ‘Mum, I don’t think I want to be an actor anymore; I think I’d like to be in courtrooms; it’s like being on stage. A barrister is what I should be’.
And there’s his little brother, Alfie. Another one of those letters all formally addressed and sealed in an envelope came home in his school bag yesterday. Letters from schools in sealed envelopes are never good news. It said Alfie had been disruptive in Writing Groups and as a consequence was being sent to ‘The Planning Room’. There isn’t actually any such thing as, ‘The Planning Room’; it’s just the deputy principal’s office where he has a couple of extra chairs for naughty boys (because it’s invariably always the boys).
So Alfie was not going to be allowed to run around at lunch time and instead would be having his lunch with the deputy principal in his office, where in a seated position he would have time to reflect on his behaviour and contemplate how in the future he might try to avoid disrupting other students in Writing Groups, manage his impulsive behaviour and think serene thoughts. It’s a highly improbable scenario.
I had to sign the letter and return it to the school’s office. This morning, while Archie was driving to his court appearance in my rice burner, I walked into the office and held up the letter and said, ‘I have something for the ‘naughty boys’ file’.
Like I said, it’s been one of those days. And I’m ready for something soothing so I’m looking at images of happier times during a summer in New York City with my daughter. I tell myself, ‘Boys will be boys’.
* Hoon is a term used in Australia and New Zealand, to refer to anyone who engages in loutish, anti-social behaviour. In particular, it is used to refer to one who drives a car in a manner which is anti-social, i.e. too fast, too noisily or too dangerously.
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