Dad’s Life: Self-reliant? Mother-reliant more like!

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I HATE to tell you this, but Christmas is only a little over 10 weeks away.

I know this because my boys are keeping me informed, just in case I forget and Yuletide just passes me by completely.

Isaac, 13, has now changed his mind about presents more than a dozen times.

As my regular reader would suspect, 16-year-old Gabriel is far more circumspect about Christmas lists.

He considers, he conjectures, he dismisses, he imagines ... and he’ll end up asking for money as always.

The festive season is also on my mind as I am writing and rehearsing our church Nativity.

A few wags have asked me why I feel under so much pressure in preparing this year’s offering: “The story and the characters don’t change, so what is there to write?” they argue.

Well, a different take on the story is always required and the characters change annually. This year I have about six less performers than last year, and have to consider how much dialogue each of them can cope with.

Then there’s the casting, For instance, after grumpily agreeing to play a mummy last year, Gabriel has decided his acting years are behind him.

Isaac, on the other hand, wants to hand pick his part, which isn’t going to happen.

As my young charges change their minds about possible roles or cry off altogether due to other commitments, my script has become a constantly changing, evolving entity and the drama changes every time its rehearsed.

Because the youngsters are all bright as buttons, they also come up with their own dialogue or stage suggestions, normally all better than mine.

A shortage of personnel last year meant I had to don a set of wings and play an angel. A similar set of circumstances might well occur this year, so I’m keeping the Innkeeper’s tea towel back just in case.

ISAAC spent most of last weekend on a Combined Cadet Force self-reliant weekend.

He didn’t particularly enjoy his 36-hour jaunt to goodness-knows where – he still doesn’t know where he was.

It was the name of the weekend that tickled me. Self-reliant – really?

His mother spent a week collating everything on his kit list, then made up his packed lunches and breakfasts and then packed his enormous bag.

True he then spent 36 hours wandering round some countryside, but I picked him up then helped his mother unpack his bag and then do all his washing.

Self-reliant? More like a mother-reliant weekend.