Opinion with Matthew Munson: Family time and keeping a promise

The latest journey for Matthew and Bryan

I’ve been out of Thanet this weekend. I’m a Thanetian through and through, so I always miss home, but it’s nice to get away, even in the odd circumstances we find ourselves.

Bryan was meeting up with his brother and sister on Saturday; they live elsewhere with their parents, and it’s a privilege for all of us adults to bring the three of them together. I adored watching the three of them spend the day in each other’s company, and they just plain adored it.

I’m very fortunate in that I have huge respect for the parents of Bryan’s siblings, and I actually like them as well – which always helps when you’re forging a friendship with people! They have become excellent friends over the course of the last 18 months, and to be able to work with an extended family in a way to give our children positive experiences is something I will always savour.

I’m writing this from a hotel room in London, as I couldn’t face a long journey back to Thanet on public transport all in one day. I knew that it would be exhausting, and with the potential for irritableness brewing, so we broke the journey – and it also means that I can fulfil a long-standing promise to Bryan.

You see, Bryan has a selective elephantine memory; he sometimes can’t remember if he’s brushed his teeth in the mornings, but he can remember the occasion nine months ago where we went to Battersea Children’s Zoo and I promised (in a moment of weakness, stupidity, or both) to take him on a two-seater bike when we next have a weekend away visiting his siblings in the summer.

I half-remembered the promise I’d made, but hadn’t given it a huge amount of thought; his brother and sister’s mum had come up with a brilliant idea for the Saturday, so I didn’t have to be creative about that day at all (for which I am eternally grateful), so I jotted down a few ideas for the Sunday and suggested some to Bryan. We’ve got outstanding tickets for Shrek’s Adventures, but that’s still closed, but I was quite pleased at myself for coming up with a few different ideas.

Well, he looked at me as if I was completely mad (which is not outside the realms of possibility) and told me, quite distinctly, that I had promised to take him to Battersea on Sunday. Oh yes, I remember now, I thought to myself. He was absolutely resolute that this was what he wanted to do, and I was amazed he had managed to hold onto that memory for so long. There was no contest, really; of course I would do that for him, especially as he was so desperately keen to do it.

So off we traipse across London today to see the animals and travel around Battersea Park on a two-seater contraption that – if I remember correctly – looked incredibly uncomfortably when I saw it the first time. But needs must; I made a promise, and I must keep it.

It’s 7.30am on Sunday morning as I write; Bryan and I are obviously sharing a hotel room, and he has just woken up, looked at me, and said, “I loved yesterday, Daddy. It made me happy. Battersea Park today.” Promises are important, and I’ve really loved this weekend too – being a parent is never easy, but it’s a joy.