They drive Kias and Toyota 4WDs.
They spend way too much time in Facebook mother’s groups. They worry about NAPLAN and nappy rash and the cost of childcare.
The women mainly work part time so they can be there at the school gate. Their husbands – some white collar workers in the city, others in creative industries, some tradies – work longer hours. There are a few stay at home dads who relish their role, thrilled to be so involved in their children’s lives. A small business owner, a couple who do something in the public service. A teacher.
They are devoted loving, caring parents.
The kids do ballet and tennis and rugby and AFL and on the weekend their parents ferry them around to birthday parties in parks and trampoline centres, to sausage sizzles and play dates.
But when its finished, when the wrapping has been swept away, when the BBQ has been scrubbed clean of grease, when the scooters and skateboards are packed away they gather in the suburbs. Around flood lit backyards, or perched on kitchen bar stools. There they happily drink wine and laugh and each take turns snorting short fat lines of cocaine while their kids play backyard cricket and Minecraft on their iPads.
They aren’t particularly wealthy. They aren’t fancy stockbrokers or movie stars. They are suburban mums and dads in suburbs just near you, probably in yours – definitely in mine – and they think it’s perfectly okay to take cocaine while their children play in another room.
I’ll tell you how I know, it is because I’ve been there.
I’ve seen them, watched the casual way cocaine is offered around like a plate of peanuts. Its expensive, so they’ve all chipped in but they have manners and they offer it to the newcomers out of politeness.
“Go on,” they say. “You’ll be surprised how much you like it.”
But there is no pressure, if you say no, you take a beer instead and plonk yourself down to catch up on the latest gossip about the new teacher at school or the marriage break up of the couple down the road.
The kids are put in another room so they don't see what is going on. Via iStock.
There is dinner for the kids, pizza or sausages. Ice blocks handed around and a DVD put on to keep them in another room.
The drugs continue into the evening and as it gets later the parents decide to either put the kids to bed and continue or one of them shuffles their lot home and lets the other partner have a night off.
A free pass to get wasted.
The kids whose parents have stayed are thrilled at this impromptu sleepover, by the giddiness and joviality their mum is displaying, by the laughs the grown ups are having.
They are, their parents assure me, totally oblivious to what’s going on.
It's something I thought people had left behind when they got bit older.
Something I associated with young 20-somethings seeking out new experiences, clubbing, so it’s a surprise to find it here in the suburbs.
When I express concern about how they will function the next day, about whether the kids are safe they laugh at me.
"I’m a lot more in control than the guy drinking a slab and passing out on the couch," one father assures me.
8.1% of Australians aged 14 years and over have used cocaine one or more times in their life. Via iStock.
What does it say about our culture that those are the two options laid out on the table for this man. Drinking to obliteration. Or cocaine.
The mothers assure me that the next day they function better than they would with a hangover. They tell me that the only person they’ve ever met who questioned whether what they were doing was right was me.
The Australian Drug Foundation has estimated that 8.1% of Australians aged 14 years and over have used cocaine one or more times in their life.
The people in my suburb laugh at such statistics, they say they’ve never been polled and that “everyone” they know does it occasionally.
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Emergency physician and Australian National University researcher David Caldicott agrees. He told Fairfax Media last year there was a “gross underestimation in Australia of the number of Australians using drugs."
The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre said that cocaine use is three times higher in the most advantaged social class than in the least advantaged class. Marion Downey from the Centre told Fairfax Media that cocaine use, in particular, is significantly under-reported.
"Higher income, higher educated people … are not going to volunteer their drug use."
Unless you are there in front of them and then it’s unashamed.
"Higher income, higher educated people … are not going to volunteer their drug use." Via iStock.
Aside from the fact it is illegal I find it hard to put my finger on why I feel so uncomfortable about this.
The kids are well cared for they assure me. (So far)
No one seems to be an addict (so far) and they function perfectly well during the week they say.
It is their money and surely if they want to blow it on well, blow and no one gets harmed then that should be okay.
But the thing with drug use is that someone does get harmed.
Maybe not now.
Maybe not in this room.
But the thing with drug use is that someone does get harmed. Via iStock.
Will their kids always be so oblivious? What if they aren’t, what lessons will they learn from this behaviour?
What about if there are side effects their parents don’t really notice. So-called "Suicide Tuesdays", the anger on Wednesdays from lack of sleep. The constant round of late Saturday nights as their house is filled yet again with the same partying adults.
Should the kids cop that?
Maybe the harm is a long way down the chain.
We know that in Mexico, where our cocaine comes from, more than 10,000 people are killed each year in the drug war.
Who will suffer for these suburban parents?
They don’t seem to care... but I do... because surely somehow, sometime something’s gonna give and what if I am the one wondering I should have done something sooner.
*The author of this post is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous to protect the identity of the children involved.
Family Drug Help: 1300 660 068.
SANE Australia: 1800 187 263
Lifeline: 13 11 14.