DON’T GO UP THE CROSS, SON
*NEWS UPDATE, July 19… Police have charged 18-year-old Kieran Loveridge with Thomas Kelly’s death. He has been charged with one count of murder, one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and two counts of common assault.
To be the father of growing daughters is to understand something of what Yeats evokes with his imperishable phrase ‘terrible beauty’. Nothing can make one so happily exhilarated or so frightened: it’s a solid lesson in the limitations of self to realise that your heart is running around inside someone else’s body. ― Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A MemoirKathy and Ralph Kelly. Photograph via news.com.au.
Unlike Hitchens, I don’t have daughters, but substitute ‘sons’ in the first sentence and he could be talking for me: ‘your heart is running around inside someone else’s body’.
How then must it feel to be the Kathy and Ralph Kelly, parents of Thomas Kelly, the 18-year-old who died after a being king hit in a random attack in Kings Cross, Sydney, on Saturday night?
After some difficult teenage years it seemed things were looking up for Thomas. He had an accountancy cadetship and girlfriend, his first. It was also his first trip to the Cross. All it took was one random attack and a couple of days later the doctors were turning off his life support. A family’s hopes and dreams extinguished.
It’s unimaginable but at the same time only too imaginable, especially for us mothers of teenage boys.
One friend recently told me she loved the fact her 19-year old son was always in bed with his girlfriend because it meant he wasn’t out on the streets with his friends. Another simply declared that raising teenage boys was the ‘scariest thing in the world’. The statistics bear this out, with males accounting for around three-quarters of injury-related deaths and hospitalisations amongst young people in 2008.
Neuroscientists have discovered that our frontal lobe – the region of the brain that’s responsible for reasoning, planning, and judgment – isn’t properly developed until the age of 25. And herein lies the problem.
Teenage boys demand their independence- as they must do if they are to become adults – but there’s a malevolent voice inside them that whispers to them they’re indestructible.
Unfortunately they’re not. I know someone who recently had to attend a funeral of an ‘indestructible’ 15-year-old, who took his parents’ car for a joyride one day and lost control.
According to media reports, Mr Kelly asked Thomas not to go to Kings Cross, “but you can’t tell an 18-year-old what to do”.
My eldest son is also 18. He’s a party boy and a night owl and would readily admit to being much less responsible than Thomas Kelly. On Wednesdays he usually heads out to ‘the Cross’. His friends are for the most part responsible. They don’t drink and drive, but all it would take is for them to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and the worst could happen.
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