I usually write my columns on either Saturday evening or Sunday morning, depending on when I get a quiet moment. A quiet moment? I certainly have less of them than I’m used to, but I do not complain.
When I lived by myself, I didn’t have a TV for years. It never bothered me; very occasionally, I’d watch Dr Who on BBC iPlayer (this was back in the day when you didn’t need a licence to watch iPlayer), but other than that, bothered I was not.
And then, I became a dad – and compromises needed to be made. A TV came into our home; as much as Bryan would have liked me to give unlimited permission for him to watch whatever he wanted for as long as he wanted, there have been reasonable limits.
Something new came along this week; an Amazon firestick. Oh yes, how my life has changed. I recently gave up my main paying job in order to devote more time to Bryan – a decision I do not regret for one moment – and my colleagues were very generous with their goodbyes.
Suddenly, a new world opened up to us, and I took the jump with Netflix as well; we have untold numbers of programmes open to us now. Bryan’s eyes lit up as he contemplated what he could watch first, and Scooby Doo won out; he’s managed to watch 26 episodes (each being 22 minutes long) in three days, so he is very happy. We also watched two films on Saturday evening and an episode of Agents of Shield, so a very successful purchase – and a far cry from my life before becoming a dad.
Next week is an adventure for us – the end of home school for the summer holidays. I’ve thought long and hard about how to spend the holidays, given that the last few months have been so unusual and complex. Should I continue with some learning, or should we do something completely different?
In the end, I’ve decided to scale back. I’ve liked being my son’s teacher, and I have always sought to educate Bryan about life in a hundred different ways; manners, connecting the dots of how life works, and how to be a decent human being. That will continue during the next few weeks, and he’ll also continue learning his times tables and vocabulary – even five minutes of each every day will help.
But then we get to resume a father / son relationship rather than a father / teacher & son / pupil relationship. Parents should teach their children everyday and be role models to them, and the complexities of formal education is in the hands of experts who are better people than me.
One thing I’ve arranged for Bryan during the holidays is to join the Forest School once a week. He’s been before and loved it, so I decided to give him the chance to go again. He’s thoroughly looking forward to it, and I am as well; it gives both of us to explore our own interests one day a week, away from the intensity of a single parent-single child dynamic; we both need that space, and it makes us value our time together more.
To be a parent is a privilege, and I get to spend a magical summer with him whilst I help him prepare for his next year of school. What a joy.