Opinion with Matthew Munson: What ifs and a world of creativity

The latest journey for Matthew and Bryan

After my recent arm / car collision, I’m left with a bump near my elbow that’s an attractive shape, but otherwise I seem uninjured. I wondered if there was going to be some permanent injury; given my occasional hypochondria, I suspected bone fracture, blood clots, or … Oh, I don’t know, hypochondria is never logical.

I’m working on a book at the moment based around alternate realities – the science-fiction trope where different histories had created different realities; perhaps where the Roman Empire didn’t fall, or where nuclear weapons destroyed all life on Earth, or one where religion didn’t exist, for example. I’m fascinated by the “what ifs” in history, and the thought of “what if I had never become a father” had trailed briefly in my mind. I couldn’t ever imagine not being a dad now, as my son has become such an integral part of our joint life that I couldn’t ever imagine what I would be doing without him being a part of it.

One thing I’ve observed during these last few months is how his interest and hobbies have developed and strengthened. He misses his swimming and dance classes, and he can’t wait to start them up again in September; given the changes to my working hours, I can take him to them without the same level of clock-watching and stress as before, which is a brilliant pleasure.

But he’s also become fascinated by arts and crafts, something I would never have imagined even a few months before to this degree. Now, my son’s bedroom is usually not very tidy, as you might imagine – it drives me insane, but I take the philosophy that it’s his room and so he can be responsible for how he wants it to look. But the amount of art materials he possesses is beyond imagination – pens and pencils and crayons and paint sticks and paper and … the list goes on.

Argos provided me the other day with a couple of really useful storage ideas, and Bryan was oddly excited about these units of plastic. It inspired us to entirely reorganise and redesign his bedroom and, after about three or four hours, we succeeded – he faded a bit towards the end, so he retired to the front room whilst I worked on the home strait. It was entirely worth it, and he had worked hard – but as a result, he has untold containers easily organised with every possible type of craft material you could imagine. I might be exaggerating things a little there, I concede, but he is delighted – he can finally find the things he wants, and I saw the glimmer of excitement in his eyes on Friday when we had finished.

It’s fascinating to watch children grow – their personalities really develop as they become more confident and comfortable in themselves, and I love helping my own son develop. I remember loving to write from a very early age, and whilst Bryan doesn’t have that same passion for it as me, he (like all children) is very creative – and finally he has a way to express himself. It’ll take a while for his imagination to grow even more, but the fact he is determined is fine with me … except that I keep finding off-cuts of cardboard littering the hall. However, that’s the least of my worries if he’s actually enjoying it.