Opinion: Matthew Munson – Finding moments of joy

The latest journey for Matthew and Bryan

Parks are brilliant. I’ve lived in Thanet all my life (38 years and counting), and I’ve spent untold hours in parks and on beaches, and I don’t think I’ve fully understood the importance of them until now.

We don’t have a garden where we live, but we live five minutes away from King George VI Park. Over the past three weeks, I can’t tell you how much of the park we’ve explored, and how many joyous hours we have spent together exploring its nooks and crannies.

Some of these days will never leave me; one day, we spent a wonderful afternoon following the sound of a woodpecker and identifying all the different types of birds living in there; we lost count after Rock Doves, Pigeons, Woodpeckers, Parakeets, Magpies, Black Birds … and I could go on if we had stayed longer past our allotted time out of doors.

That afternoon, when we had a joyful time running around the park getting exercise and a nature walk at the same time, was a brilliant time. I feel guilty at times for having to still work and not, therefore, giving Bryan my full attention during the week. But they’re replaced by moments of joy in the sunshine when we’re together and thoroughly enjoying each other’s company.

I was worried, when this lockdown began, about my son’s mental health. He’s an extrovert, so he thrives on company, and I’m an introvert, so we’re coming from opposite ends of a very wide spectrum. I didn’t need to worry too much, however; he struggles at times, but we have facetimed some of his close friends every week, and he has been able to concentrate on his school work … as well as some non-curricular work such as Youtube For Kids. I forget, to my peril, the resilience of kids and their ability to find a new normal – more so than me, when I over analyse it too much.

He admits that he misses school sometimes and he understands that there are some things outside of my control. He also accepts that this will not last forever, so he places his trust in the responsible adults around him (and apparently, that includes me) and finds ways of learning new things at home with my help.

Next week is space week in the Munson Primary School, and I will be spending a busy Sunday working out a lesson plan – and accepting the plan might go out of the window by the middle of Tuesday.

In the meantime, I think there’s a lot to remember – and an opportunity to just sit and enjoy a different pace of life. Our lives are busy, but I see the pleasure in my son’s face of a quiet twenty minutes on a game on his tablet, or of laughing over a joke we share, or yelling at the TV because we’ve seen the same advert 27 times in a row.

We’ve had our moments, of course, where we’ve squabbled like starlings – a bird I don’t think we saw in King George VI Park – and then forgotten about it five minutes later. The love in a family is still there, and I get to spend time with Bryan even when I’m having to work – he’s choosing to share what he learns with me, and I love that.

Regularity can’t come soon enough, but I hope it becomes a new normal – and I want to explore what that looks like as the restrictions ease. The future is an undiscovered country, but maybe that’s not as scary as I thought it might be.


  1. I have also lived in Thanet all my life(69years) and have always known the peace and harmony you can get from sitting quietly with a book now more than ever we should appreciate what we have and not what we want, Just be grateful if you are fit and healthy.

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