I’m a social secretary more than I am a writer these days. My son certainly has more of a social life than I do; dance classes and swimming take up two evenings and then there’s the weekends to contend with. Just this weekend has involved a trip to the park, lunch out at Verrey’s in Broadstairs, and a two-hour scooter lesson at Revolution Skatepark.
My calendar is vastly more complicated than it ever was before and I find momentary niches where I can get some work done – or even read a book (an increasingly rare pleasure right now). But that’s what happens when an introvert parents an extrovert child; you have to step outside of your own comfort zone in many ways to make sure they get a full range of experiences. I’m certainly getting new experiences myself.
One thing that amazes me with children is their concept of time; a five minute job can take thirty-seven, whereas doing five minutes of homework can seem endless to them after 30 seconds. I am fascinated by the skill that clearly requires.
Bryan is a little hazy on the concept of years. I mentioned to him the other day that, when I was a child, I used to listen to the top 40 music charts on a Sunday afternoon. It was with Dr Fox (whatever happened to him) on the radio – I can’t for the life of me remember which station, but that’s by the by.
“Did you listen to the radio on your laptop, Dad, or on Alexa?” Bryan asked.
No, I had to explain, as laptops back then were bulky affairs and comparatively rare (I’m talking 25 years ago), and Alexa didn’t exist. Oh, I added, there was the small matter of dial-up internet, but decided not to go too far down that particular rabbit hole as I could see his eyes glazing over as I tried to describe the difference between dial-up and broadband.
“So how did you listen to the radio station then?” Bryan asks.
“On an actual radio, Bryan. Like the thing in the corner of the room over there.”
“Oh. Did other things not exist back then as well?”
“Ovens? Light bulbs?”
My threats to sell him into slavery fell on deaf ears; my admonitions were clearly seen as derisory, and so I had to accept the endless suggestions as white noise for the next 10 minutes until he got bored and went to play with his endless collection of balloons instead.
I sometimes wonder if I should start trying to write children’s fiction, to capture the vivid imagination that they have – but then I realise that real-life is infinitely more entertaining when a child is around. They are natural storytellers in themselves, if you can sometimes guide them down the right path and avoid too many digressions – but then I have to appreciate that digressions can easily happen to adults as well. I’d originally planned to write much more about Revolution skate park in this week’s column, but I seemed to need to get other things off my chest instead. This weekly outpouring has become somewhat therapeutic for me, as I can make sure I’m not entirely losing my connection with the wider world.
A rare moment of silence has befallen home as I write this column in the early hours of Sunday; Bryan is having a sleep-over at his grandparents’ home, so they can have the early-morning start with him today. In the meantime, I intend to read for at least 30 minutes without interruption – bliss!