Term’s out. After six months of home-schooling (and an increased respect for teachers as I tried to give my son an education whilst we also lived together and I tried to work), Bryan returned to school at the start of September and has loved it beyond words.
So have I; to see his face light up as he talks about what he’s learnt at school, and who he played with in the playground, and the teacher’s connection with them (she is, I’m told, The Best Teacher Ever) – all of this has brought me joy. The fact that I have some time to myself every day as well is not to be underestimated; we’re not living on top of each other, and probably get on a lot better as a result.
But the first term has passed in a flash, and now we reach Half Term. A time of pumpkins and spooky films and Halloween, albeit this year with a difference. Actually, two differences; the first one you can undoubtedly imagine. Trick or treating will be very limited this year, although I still intend to make the next week as much fun as I can for both of us. But also because our home is decorated for the season, for the first time in my entire life. I bowed to the inevitable, and now we have a skeleton outside the front door, a skeletal dog in the living room, and ghosts, spiders, and bats hanging from every possible space. Bryan showed every last detail off to his grandparents this weekend, so who am I to judge?
It’s hard to remember what life was like for me as a child; I don’t remember very much of it, to my shame – my parents worked hard to provide for us as a family, and I can’t remember all the details. I was certainly a socially awkward boy, and a somewhat argumentative one; Bryan is by no means the first, but isn’t shy in giving his opinion in the right circumstances – so perhaps I’ve got what’s coming for me.
It’s funny, now I come to think of it; we were in a supermarket together just the other day, and we bumped into someone I know a little. They didn’t know our story, so when I introduced Bryan as my son, she immediately (and genuinely) said, “My word, he looks like you.” I had said “thank you” before thinking of anything else, and that was genuine too. We do look more alike than I realise sometimes, and when I see him copying one of my mannerisms, I am caught even more off-guard.
I do quite often experience a heavy dose of George Orwell’s double think. I am both sad that I didn’t hold my son in my arms from birth, and forget more often than not that Bryan has been at home for “only” eighteen months; it feels a lot longer, and I mean that in the best possible sense.
Being a parent is a rare privilege, and it’s not one I will ever take for granted. I want to have so many experiences with him, and this half term is just one such opportunity. We’ll be visiting Dover Castle to enjoy some spooky tales, a pumpkin trail at Quex, and a visit to Wildwood. It’s the simple pleasures in life, and even when we annoy each other, we know that there’s nothing quite as unbreakable as family. Please remind me of that when this week is over and I’m begging for a moment of quiet.