By ANGELA MOLLARD
Drunk schoolie Cameron Cox made the news yesterday after a photo of him lying on a balcony ledge was uploaded on Instagram. He was drunk and climbed out through the window “to get some fresh air” on the eleventh-storey window ledge. Cameron has since been ‘evicted’ from his apartment and sent home.
This picture of you drunk, legs propped against the wall, 11 stories up on the balcony of an apartment block on the Gold Coast chilled every cell of the parent I am:
I wanted to reach out and pull you in myself. To cling to your crooked arm so that should you roll in your stupor you would not plummet to the ground below.
Then I read what you had to say.
“My dad might be angry when he finds out,” you muttered sheepishly, doubtless smirking to the reporter who found your picture posted on Instagram. “I knew in past years there had been problems with balconies but I didn’t think it would get this much attention.”
And that, Cam, is when I got mad.
There are no problems with balconies. There are problems with selfish, entitled, careless, narcissistic idiots like you.
I have sat with this anger all day after we discussed your foolishness on Channel Nine’s Mornings. The conversation, naturally, turned to social media and how Facebook and Instagram have given us a window into what you get up to.
Well here, Cam, is the view from where I sit. Hear me out.
Furious because there are kids in hospital struggling with every fibre in their sick, broken bodies just to stay alive. Drugs are pumped through them, respirators breathe for them, medics will them to pull through. But some won’t. They just won’t.
I’m furious because of the boyfriend I lost to a motorbike accident when he was a year younger than you. Nothing as dramatic as your 11-storey stunt – just an accident. A misjudged corner and a wet, slippery road. But he’s gone and all his dreams – to become a mechanic, to see the Taj Mahal, to own a dog – were extinguished too. Sometimes when I return to my home town I see his Mum.
Twenty years later the heartbreak still hangs heavy from her soul.
Mostly, though Cam, I am furious on behalf of your parents. Having a child is like peeling your own heart – it’s forever exposed. You will never know the worry and the work (and the wonderment) that went into raising you. That from the moment they first gazed upon your tiny baby body they have feared in the deep primitive part of themselves that they might lose you. Every parent does. It’s the universe’s poignant pay-off for the joy of having you.
Some will say I’m being too harsh, that you’re only 18, that “kids will be kids”. I wouldn’t have written had there been a small shred of remorse, a flicker of the “self-discipline” and “personal responsibility” your school has spent years trying to instil.
Instead, you said this: “I was drunk and climbed out there through the window for the thrill and to get some fresh air.”
Cam, less than a kilometre from where I live, a boy like you – just 22 – died when he toppled from his balcony into a pool below. My stomach squeezes every time I drive past the building.
Please, take time to think and see this not as the end of your school days but the beginning of your adult life. As your headmaster writes on your school’s website: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” But most important, know that life is precious.
Angela appeared on Mornings to talk about the incident. Watch the video below:
Angela Mollard is a Sydney-based journalist who has now combined motherhood with writing for magazines both in Australia and the UK. You can follow her on Twitter here.