Opinion with Matthew Munson: A bingo card of career choices for Bryan

Bryan has been exploring his creative side

I expected to have a lot more free time when Bryan went back to school; six hours, every day, where I can do other things – write hundreds of words of my next story, do endless exercise, and all the jobs I’ve wanted to catch up on over the past six months.

Not a bit of it.

To be fair, Bryan’s only been back to school for eight days, so I think we’re both still just adapting to this after six months of being away from a place he loves and thrives in. I’ve squeezed in some exercise, went shopping to complete Bryan’s PE kit, and … I’m not sure what else, but it’s filled up my days.

Next week, we start his swimming again, after a similar length of time away. I’ve made a vow to myself this time around; I used to cram a lot into Thursdays and Fridays, when I didn’t work, so that his clubs and swimming were focused on those two days – and I felt, perhaps wistfully, that we were missing out on quality time together because I was cramming so much into the days when I wasn’t working.

So I was resolute in that I would find a “new normal” for us as a family; one where we can stretch out our weeks now that I have more time where both of us have quality time, and that we can also just “potter” – that infamous phrase that can mean so many different things to each of us. When I was a child, I spent a lot of time during the holidays with my nan and granddad, and I learnt how to entertain myself with books, toys, and an imagination the size of Mount Everest. That’s something I want to encourage in Bryan; he is nervous about stretching his imagination sometimes, but he’s getting better.

I look at the child Bryan is now, and he seems a million miles away from the child he was just six months ago. It is quite breathtaking sometimes; the way he moves and talks and laughs belies the fact he is only nine. He still loves his teddies and his cartoons, but there’s a new element to him that hadn’t fully come out before 2020 unleashed its full once-in-a-lifetime experience. I suspect a lot of children will be the same; not many will be precisely the same as they were before all this happened.

I have nurtured Bryan’s love of art; it’s not quite the same of writing, and I suspected that would fall away after the initial interest he expressed – mostly because his dad is a writer, and he wanted to experiment with it. The fact he has moved on is entirely normal; I had at least ten career plans before I went to secondary school. Bryan now wants to be an artist, but when he restarts his dance classes, I suspect that “dancer” will come back onto the horizon. I just keep a bingo card with all the alternatives on and see what choice he makes on a monthly basis.

I was never pressured to “be” anything particular as I grew up; I didn’t have to be a high-performing lawyer or doctor, and I would have been accepted as a bin man or a scientist. I want the same for Bryan; I suspect he will become something creative, because his mind is expanding and pointing in that direction. It’s exciting to watch a child develop their mind and soul, and what a privilege it is to be a part of that journey with them.

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