I learnt on Boxing Day that my 26 year old son Jonny has a favourite Christmas tree ornament from his childhood. I learnt this when he pointed out the aforementioned bauble, which still plays an integral part in the overall décor of our yuletide tree.
With not being previously party to this piece of minutia, it made me ponder what other favourite things had thus far remained clandestine in the neurological database and corridors of young Jonathon Strachan esq.
Important unanswered questions flooded my erratic mind, making me question my very skills as a parent. I’d always thought I’d been a good father throughout Jonny’s childhood and fledgling adult years…… But was I really?
Does the fact that I don’t know my son’s favourite junction on the M1, his preferred button on his grey moleskin coat, his favourite anecdote about ferrets and where the hell he got that Christmas jumper from, mean I’ve been lacking as a father?
I know I’ve always been there for him and his sister, providing for them both in spirit, guidance and security. However, how well do I really know my adult kids?
Despite protestations to the contrary, is one of them a covert admirer of Irish singer Daniel O’Donnell? Does Jonny really wish he lived in a convent in Dudley, West Midlands and go by the name Parsnip? Does my daughter Rachel really keep her room tidy, with the mess her mother encounters every morning manufactured deliberately before she leaves for work in a morning?
If one of them is a Daniel O’Donnell fan, I hope they lend me his latest Christmas offering ‘Music To Knit Jumpers By’. A compact disk that comes with a set of knitting needles and a ball of wool gratis.
As a man with an ‘old school’ upbringing, I’ve always seen it as my role to be the main bread winner and provide a roof, food, water, advice, not to mention a warm and loving environment to grow in. My aim to create a family bond where I’d be party to things like everyone’s favourite tree ornaments. I’m irked at letting myself down with the latter objective.
As anyone with kids will testify, there are challenges bringing them up that require discipline, selflessness, sleeping less than Dracula does in summer, managing anxiety and having to watch Tellytubbies on kids TV, to maintain stability. It’s not an easy task to do well, especially having to watch the flipping Tellytubbies.
I thought I’d done a good job with my two until Boxing Day 2016. This notion blasted from the water with the disclosure of a family preference, making me question the very foundations of the bonds I’d sought to build throughout my married life.
However, I refuse to dwell on this. Instead I shall sit watching a muted Tellytubbies DVD on the TV, listening to ‘Music To Knit Jumpers By’ while I await a visit from Social Services.
Incidentally, if anyone is interested, I’ve just found out Jonny’s favourite button on his grey moleskin coat is the fourth one down!