Q. My sister and her husband are going through a separation and probably a divorce. My children, ages eight and five, keep asking questions like why their aunt comes to visit them alone. We keep telling them that Uncle Kevin is out of town, but eventually we will have to be honest with them. How do we explain divorce to children?
The panel stressed the importance of being honest with children when answering their questions, but that doesn’t mean that you have to go into great detail.
It’s a whodunit with a comic twist and a motley cast of characters worthy of any rogues’ gallery.
It’s The Pines Dinner Theatre’s highly-inventive, wildly-funny, season-opener “Who Done It?,” an audience-participation murder-mystery stage show.
The show was presented Jan. 18, the performance seen for this review, and Jan. 19, 25, 26 and Feb. 2 at the Allentown theater.
Q. Steve and I have been living together for four years, and we are thinking about starting a family. Is it important for children to have married parents? We are fine as we are, but not sure whether getting married is the right thing.
In answering this question, the panel discussed it from several different perspectives.
Q. I’m sure everyone has gone through this, but it mortified me. What do you do when a young child (loudly) points to someone and says, “That man is fat,” or something equally embarrassing?
In response to the question, the panel observed that what young children say is an observation, not judgmental.
“Children learn from observation, sight and sound, and experience,” panelist Mike Daniels said, adding, “They make comparisons, but not connections.”
Q. I am a single mom with two young children. Nearly all my income goes to rent, keeping my car on the road and bills. “Good” food is expensive. I can already see my six-year-old getting fat on what I can afford. What can I do? I’m not sure they will eat vegetables and salad, but they sure love macaroni and cheese.
“The idea that good food is necessarily expensive isn’t exacting accurate,” panelist Chad Stefanyak said. “Grandmother showed us that if you have chicken tonight, you have chicken salad for lunch tomorrow and chicken soup the next day. You can stretch things.”
Q. My 16-year-old daughter does not have a driver’s license, but some of her friends do. She asks repeatedly for permission to get into cars with her friends who have drivers’ licenses, but are inexperienced drivers. How many ways can I say, “No?” When, or under what circumstances, should I say, “Yes?”
The panel first talked about how to deal with the daughter’s repeated requests to go driving in vehicles with friends, then switched to ways to make the experience safer when the mother eventually has to say, “Yes.”
Q. My in-laws have an active social life that often includes heavy drinking. My children, ages 11 and 13, have overheard them talk about their escapades, as well as their hangovers. One Sunday, my mother-in-law blatantly said that she was not getting out of bed because she had had too much to drink the night before. My kids have begun asking questions. My husband thinks it is funny, but I am worried about the effects this could have on our kids as they come of age. Am I overreacting?
The consensus of the panel is that the mother was not overreacting.
If you thought vaudeville was dead, then you obviously haven’t seen “Christmas City Follies XIX,” continuing through Dec. 23, Touchstone Theatre, Bethlehem.
An annual vaudevillian holiday tradition for the past two decades, “Follies” has a talented seven-member ensemble that sings, dances, jokes and satirizes its way through its original music and scripts.
Dressed as Christmas trees, part of the ensemble opens the show singing a tribute to “O Tannenbaum,” and playing green kazoos. Throughout the night, could also be heard the sound of iconic ukuleles.
Q. My pre-school daughter is always chosen last as a playmate. I think that she has good social skills for her age, but she is a bit overweight. Could this be a problem already at age four?
Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” comes wrapped in many theatrical packages from traditional to musical, to casts of 100 or more down to a single actor playing all the roles as Dickens did when he performed his work on stage.
The Pennsylvania Playhouse is showcasing yet another variation on the old classic with a “A Broadway Christmas Carol,” through Dec. 16.
Not your run-of-the mill version of the classic, “A Broadway Christmas Carol” features a cast of four, shameless pirating of melodies and outrageously-funny parodying of lyrics from popular Broadway musicals.