Opinion: Matthew Munson- Children’s TV and the odd bit of bickering

The latest journey for Matthew and Bryan

Did you know that there are five dwarf planets in the solar system? And that the word “velociraptor” means “sneaky thief”? I’ve learnt a lot of different facts this week; one of Bryan’s favourite screen-time activities is watching fact shows, which gives us a lot of new snippets of information … several times an hour. His other favourite screen time activity is watching the Simpsons, so it all balances out.

We’re surviving our lockdown as best we can, with daily exercise to a government-approved limit and going through three timetables for home schooling before just relaxing and spending time together as a family.

I am constantly amazed at kids’ programmes on TV these days; Bryan is amazed by the number that were on TV when I was a child but have received updates since. He struggles to believe that Thunderbirds used to have strings as a central component and is more incensed that Parker – the chauffeur – doesn’t appear in the credits. I’m rather cross too, if I’m honest; the support staff are getting short-changed.

It’s possible that I’m going mildly stir-crazy.

We do get fresh air every day. Bryan and I live a five minute walk from a park, which is virtually deserted right now, and we have been there every day to enjoy some exercise. I suspect Bryan is bored of me repeating, “Bryan, are you watching your distance?” He even pointed out how close I was to him when I was reading him a bedtime story the other night, but I take that as a sign the message is sinking in. Wouldn’t it be nice if the message didn’t need to sink in for very much longer?

I’ve learnt how to juggle my work hours a lot more creatively too, and prioritising what’s most important. I have to accept that some things need to be done later; I like to try and juggle three things at once usually, including a book, a short story, and noting down ideas for my column. I can still do work in my head, but my son needs my attention more immediately. I’m working hard to teach him both an inner resilience, so that he can guide himself, but also to rely on me as a supportive, loving father – a very fine balancing act which doesn’t always go quite to plan.

I have occasionally been known to become a tad grumpy, and I can’t always help myself, but when two people are living together in close quarters, then it’s entirely normal that this is going to happen. We have to continue learning each others’ little ways, and I have to remember to be patient when dealing with the reactions of a little boy who I haven’t parented since birth.

Like I said, life has been very interesting in Casa de Munson this week. But I have enjoyed the time with my son, even when we’ve bickered like starlings for a moment – because, in a weird way, it shows that we have accepted each other into our lives as any other family unit. Yes, we irritate each other from time to time – even I am willing to concede that I’m not entirely perfect every moment of the day, as much as that admission drains me of my life-force – but we’re family. I write this on Saturday evening after he’s had exercise, a little bit of a late night with a film and popcorn, and some time star gazing; maybe he’ll have a lie-in on Sunday morning? Fat chance.