Training Wheels and High Heels

Mr Kyle Thompson | Principal

Why indeed have a formal or in the SCOTS vernacular, a Cardinal? Is it just an excuse to buy new clothes, or make ones-self “beautiful” and take selfies? On the surface of these types of events, this all happens to various degrees (heaven forbid my daughters wear the same dress twice when attending these types of events during their schooling….). However, there are much more complex experiences being shared as part of adolescent development. Our Year 12 and some of our Year 11 students continued that development on the last day of Term 3 when they entered our spectacularly decorated assembly hall, partnering each other, to make more memories of their time at SCOTS PGC College.

It is always interesting and joyful (at least mostly) in watching the development of our young people. Our boys arrived, many wearing what were obviously new suits or other new items of clothing. Even something that can become so mundane in later life, such as the purchasing of a new suit, can be a significant moment for our young men. I still remember my grandfather taking me to David Jones in the city to buy my first. Likewise, the shopping for dresses for daughters can also be part of the special relationship between parent and child. Although I duck for cover when this happens at home.

It must be said, that without exception the boys looked sharp. Watching boys who are comfortable in rugby shorts and training shirts, or who normally are challenged in wearing a school uniform correctly suddenly appear beautifully attired and perfectly groomed shows their sense of occasion and their personal development as young men. No doubt it shows their awareness of “product” as well. How time has changed.

Similarly, observing our girls is interesting too. Observing the preparation of my own daughters for such an event and now hearing the stories relating to our SCOTS PGC girls is an entire education in itself. Dresses, shoes, makeup, tan, hair, and the list goes on and on. In spite of the similar ages, there were some differences in observing the genders. The girls seem to never let comfort get in the way of fashion. The boys looked comfortable in long pants, coats and long shirts. It was pleasing to observe many boys allowing their partners the use of their jackets if necessary. Social courtesies being not only learned but demonstrated. The boys also seemed far more comfortable in their shoes. The girls perhaps needing training wheels for their heels, especially when negotiating dancing or the length of the evening. Clearly, there was a theme at times of ‘my feet hurt’. I smile at this. Perhaps a female rite of passage?

The overriding lesson for me though was through the general observation of all our kids at such an event. Looking smart, manners front and centre and even the introductions made by boys and girls to my wife and I as they entered the event were really first class. From a distance, many of our students could have passed for being in their mid-twenties. This made me reflect. Sometimes we can expect too much from our children, or worse, allow them the leeway of an adult because of their physical appearance. It is hard to remember they are still largely kids on the inside. When I stood back and observed closely and, more importantly, truly listened, it became very obvious that our teenagers are on their way to adulthood but the journey is far from complete. There is still some of the little boy or girl in there! And, that is a good thing. We should, whilst supporting our children’s growth and development, remember that they are not yet grown up. Helping them to grow up slowly, at the right times, and with a graduation of responsibility and expectation is important. Many of our kids miss out on being teenagers and go straight to adulthood. The teenage years are important in developing good adults. And, there’s no need to rush to complete the journey.

So as our boys and girls left the venue I thought about what an important night this was in terms of that adolescent journey. I thought about all of the benchmarks of increasing maturity I observed and of the benchmarks showing these boys and girls not yet to be adults. We must remember that training wheels are not just for high heels being worn for the first time but they are important for many aspects of the adolescent years, as our children develop into great human beings.