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Sinead Ryan: If my junior cert girl goes wild tonight, i'll be to blame

IF you spot a photo of your teenage child tomorrow morning in the newspapers, falling over in the street and acting like a drunken idiot, blame yourself.

I would. It would be my fault, after all.

Don't defend it by going on about how you can't be watching them all the time, every minute of the day. Don't say it was okay to let her out to a nightclub because it was a special night and she got five As in her Junior Cert.


And definitely don't make the mistake of telling yourself it was okay to give her a few bob for drinks because, well, it's a one off, isn't it, and they're all at it?

All parents of kids getting their first State exam results today, including this one, are anxious, hopeful and full of pride for their hard-working 15-year-olds. The vast majority will remember that they are just fifteen, and that the ones who get plastered, stay out all night and teeter about in town in tiny miniskirts and high heels belong to 'someone else'.

But if you happen to be the someone else, don't whinge about why it's important they enjoy themselves this one night and, well, how could you possibly know they were going to get trolleyed.

The Junior Cert might be considered a trial run for the Leaving Cert academically, but it's mirroring it in more ways than one.

Each year there's a cohort of skimpily clad young girls, accompanied by shaggy drunken youths caught letting themselves, their families and their schools down. You'd feel sorry for them more than anything.

Very few hotels or clubs are running events for this night any more -- and you can't blame them.

They have to be alcohol-free by law, yet they know there'll be plenty of booze around -- and possibly more.

It won't stop some kids being let out by irresponsible parents to roam the streets to 'celebrate', though.

When we sat down to have 'the talk' -- about what she's going to do on the night of the results -- my daughter and I listed a few things.

It's a Wednesday. There's school the next day.


Indeed, I got a text from the school directly reminding me (and all parents) that there is, indeed, a full class schedule starting 8.40am as usual on Thursday.

Instead, they get a half day on the day itself. And there's lots of fun to be had.

They'll go shopping, bowling, or to the cinema. A house party with friends maybe, an organised event in an alcohol-free venue, or even -- take a deep breath -- dinner out with the family. These kids are not adults, however grown up they'll feel clutching their As, Bs and Cs to their chests.

Deep down, they'll be pleased to have the pressure of pretending that they are taken off them.

At 18, as most Leaving Cert students are, it's up to them. You just cross your fingers and hope you did a good enough job. However, Juniors are different. You're still working.

I'm not a huge fan of mothers pronouncing themselves their daughter's 'best friend'. Celebrity mums like Sarah Ferguson and Madonna both profess their daughters are their VBFs. The former famously even went out "on the pull" with her two while Madonna has Lourdes dressing her backing dancers on tour. As you do when you're thirteen years old.

Parents have to parent, first and last. It's pretty much their only duty while their kids are still kids.

So let's all remember that when the 'Aw, Mum, all my friends are going' starts up.

'They' might be. 'You' are not. Let's keep them all safe tonight.