Opinion with Matthew Munson: Career choices and asking the question ‘why’

The latest journey for Matthew and Bryan

What happened last week? It seems to have disappeared in something of a flash, and I can’t think back to what happened. Perhaps it’s because we’re in a situation where all the days blur together; at least for Bryan and I, it’s mixed up by him going to school (which he loves), and I get some time in the middle of the day to sit quietly and recover from the loudness of my life.

One thing that Bryan has focused on is skipping. If you’d asked me to try and predict the things he might start to get interested in, skipping would have featured nowhere on the list. But skipping appeared almost out of nowhere; something happened at school to inspire him, I suspect, although I can’t quite get to the bottom of what.

Still, I wasn’t going to say no to a form of exercise, so Amazon earned a total of £4.50 from me as it supplied two skipping ropes. I had a crazy idea to try it with him, but that didn’t last more than five minutes on the first day we tried it this week – I couldn’t cope. I’ve been pestered to let Bryan out every single day so he can practice, and he is more tired at night; I can’t argue with those things.

I’ve been helping Bryan decide on his career choices. When I pointed out to Bryan that, as he was only nine, I didn’t expect him to stick to his decision, he looked appalled; he wanted to be a businessman – a shop owner, to be precise – after having done a couple of years teaching to save up some money that would set up his business. He took it well when I told him that teachers didn’t earn millions, although I realise that his grasp of money is still a bit shaky; earning £50,000 as a newly-qualified teacher was a tad on the high side, and being able to put half of that away in savings wasn’t quite in touch with reality.

Still, he was intrigued by the possibilities of business loans – but less interested in business planning, tax, and employment law. He wanted to run the business and work on the till; I shall have to talk to him at some point about what shop owners actually have to do, but not today. I shall bide my time.

I’m exploring what I want to do next year, and studying psychology at university is attractive right now; I find Bryan’s mind a fascinating place, and I’d love to understand minds more generally. What makes us tick? Why do we react in particular ways – why do I react in particular ways? Why does this make us happy whilst that sets us on edge for no good reason – certainly no logical one. I want to understand why – that inevitable question I get asked 100 times a morning by my son, and it’s time I got to ask the questions for a change.

I am fortunate in that I have some free time in my day; I only work part-time, and so can spare a bit of time for me to study something for personal interest. I say that now, but if my time becomes even more precious – if Bryan suddenly needs more of my time – then I might think differently. But a degree will take three years to complete, taking me round to 42/43 – an age I would get to anyway, whether I studied or not, so I might as well do something useful with my time outside of parenthood; that, of course, is still the best thing I have ever done. Even in the moments where I have repeated myself 17 times!