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.