Did you have an exciting New Year’s Eve? Did you lounge in the living room? Kill it with your dance moves in the kitchen? Fall asleep with a glass of wine in the bedroom? It might not have been the NYE you were expecting (or perhaps it was), but 2021 arrived without any special effort on our part.
This is the year I turn 40 and my son turns 10 – I planned that well, didn’t I? – so I will be thinking of something special to do to celebrate both those occasions. How much I can do will depend entirely on … well, you know.
But to think that I was born 40 years ago is quite surprising; I forget that four decades is a significant amount of time. I am approaching that part of my life which is “middle-aged”; I was born both in the last century and the last millennium, into a world that my son – born in 2011 – would not recognise.
Just the other day, he discovered my small collection of VHS tapes; I have nostalgically kept hold of my Star Trek episodes, even though I have nowhere to play them. I just can’t seem to get rid of them. Bryan looked at one in frank astonishment; he asked how on Earth they worked, and burst out laughing when I showed him. He thought I was joking when I told him that Netflix was originally a DVD delivery service that operated through the post, and refused to believe that I’m a year older than Channel 4.
I felt a sense of weariness fall upon my shoulders; I had been exactly the same when I was a child, unable to comprehend the incredible pace of progress. In just my lifetime, I have witnessed (we all have) the birth of a technological revolution; Bryan has a tablet that is undoubtedly more powerful than my first laptop, and our TV can connect to the internet, whereas my first TV didn’t even have colour. I am amazed at the speed with which things have evolved in what I keep thinking is about five minutes – how have I been alive for nearly forty years?
One thing I’m sure about; my education was a hell of a long time ago, and now that I see the work Bryan is doing, I know how much of it has seeped from my own mind. I can remember some, obviously – otherwise my capacity to speak and write and communicate would have descended into grunts and pointing – but maths is pretty much a no-go area aside from adding, subtraction, and multiplications up to five. Anything more advanced than that, or the complex formulae in science, are entirely beyond me; Bryan ends up teaching me.
In a way, that’s a positive; Bryan comes out of school wanting to talk about his lessons, and I’m glad of it; that means I can pick up odds and ends of new ideas and new concepts that I didn’t understand or didn’t even know about before. They will only exist in isolation in my head, but my consciousness has been expanded for that brief moment.
2021 will bring new adventures for my family; I am working on a new book that I intend to complete this year and start looking for a publisher. Bryan might well take his Kent Test as he enters his final year of primary school, and we’ll start thinking about secondary schools for him. I will (hopefully) get vaccinated against any viruses that might come our way (can you think of any?). I enter 2021 hopeful that it will be positive and interesting, and intend to do everything I can to keep it that way.
Lovely piece, Matthew. Though just imagine what it’s like for us people born in the fifties!
And I think you have a mini marvel on your hands.. How many children leave school eager to tell mum and dad about what they’ve learned?
(clue) not many!
True learning takes place as it settles in and is processed, passing into long term memory