Opinion with Matthew Munson: It is almost time for a return to school


School is coming. Next Wednesday it starts again after five and a half months; my word, where has that time gone?

At the very beginning of this confusing process, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how long it would last, or how the world would be changed by it – but now we have a chance to reflect and think about what we want for ourselves and for those we care about.

I’m sorted, personally – my career path has changed (which needed to happen), and I’m in a better position than I was at the start. As a result, I can be there for Bryan more confidently, and my word he needs it – like all children will need some support right now.

I think back to when I was off school for six weeks during the summer, and that felt like an eternity; without wide-spread internet and social media, the 80s and 90s are a foreign land to my son. I sometimes feel like I’m in a foreign land now because of all the advances in technology, but that’s a different column – does anyone else remember dial-up internet? Thank heavens for broadband and wireless; as I write this column, Bryan is watching TV in the front room and, as you might imagine, I have fled. I can’t cope with the endless ranges of music, sounds, and canned laughter that drives me mad, but which children have been immunised against.

I seem to have digressed. School. Oh yes. Bryan loves school (yes, I know how fortunate I am as a parent to have a child with that attitude), but he can see what he will miss – things that he has grown to enjoy over the past five months; not having to wake up at a particular time, more time with me and his grandparents, being allowed to watch TV a little more, his increased love of arts and crafts.

I’ll miss all of those things as well – and seeing his smiley face as he emerges from his room and climbs into bed with me where we read or play games for a leisurely 20 minutes or so; hearing his laugh; grumbling about the awful sounds from the TV when I secretly smile at the thought of my son – my son!! – being comfy and content to watch his favourite programmes.

But school is a vital part of our community. Bryan needs his friends and his new teacher (who he has met and reports that she seems “pretty nice” – high praise indeed) to enhance his life experiences. I can’t give him everything he needs; neither can his grandparents, or any single person. Bryan needs a circle of love, friendship, kindness, and support around him, like all children do. And I am comfortable with the school’s adaptations, which they have worked incredibly hard on over the summer – in fact, they have impressed me with their compassionate attitude all the way through this process, and it makes me certain that I made the right decision to send Bryan there.

Next Wednesday will be a nerve-wracking time for all children going back to school, but it will pass. Our children might not appreciate that right now, but they will in time, and as parents, we can give our love and support as they get closer to that day. I’m privileged to be a parent, but it’s even more of a privilege to be there for my son as he travels through life.