Opinion with Matthew Munson: A break from routine

Bryan's Lego triumph

It’s often been said that routine is really important in times of intense strangeness, and we certainly are in strange times. I would agree that following a pattern can help with feelings of oddness, and so it was with disturbing ease I broke the rules just this weekend.

Bryan and I have a film night every single Saturday, which we actually started during Lockdown 1.0, and it’s a chance for him to have some chocolate, stay up late, and have a good film. This Saturday, however, we did something a little different and broke the rules; Bryan is a great fan of Lego, and he has evolved into loving very complex pieces.

He got one of the Lego Architecture boxes for Christmas (from me), of Trafalgar Square, and he made a start at 2pm on Saturday afternoon. By 5pm, he was still going strong and didn’t want to stop – I suggested carrying on tomorrow so we could get ready for film night, and I swear he looked crushed. In all good conscience, I couldn’t say no, so we threw the rules out of the window and pronounced Saturday Night a one-off Lego Night. We finally finished about 9pm, and you know what? It was glorious.

I was worried, this time last week, that Bryan and I might lose our mojo with the thought of a third lockdown and school closures. Thankfully (or depressingly), we slipped into a routine very quickly; my concerns about his learning were fleeting, as his school has been magnificent. He has access to something called Google Classroom, regular contact with his teachers, and also has the opportunity to attend physical learning due to his particular situation; not everyone has that last privilege, of course, and we’re very careful to respect it.

In the meantime, I have the opportunity to craft a new book, which is an unexpected pleasure; as I said, I was worried that I would lose my mojo with another lockdown on the cards. However, my creativity doesn’t seem to have been dimmed this time around, so I am thinking about parallel dimensions. Some of my early notes are with a few readers who I trust, including my fellow columnist here at the IoTN, Seb Reilly. His notes have already been copious and considered, so I have a lot of work to do. Lovely – I do like to be busy.

Being a single father means that I don’t get to be focused entirely on myself, and I’m glad of it; but to find time for what I want is important. I can usually write this column in total peace and quiet on a Saturday evening, but Bryan is still awake; I have been interrupted for three questions about the Lego, once about the name of a song he listened to once six months ago and expects me to remember, and twice to inform me that he needs the loo. All very interesting, but I just want to write six hundred words to send off to our Erstwhile Editor.

Being a father certainly gives me a new slant on previously easy tasks; I used to leave the house as soon as I’d put my shoes and coat on – now, I need to check that another human being has remembered his coat, shoes, toilet, brain, socks, pants, toilet, vest, snack, drink, toilet, and a quick hand wash. I’ve never spent so much time standing by the front door with one foot over the threshold since I’ve become a father, but on the positive side, I’ve got to know my neighbours really well.

Right, must dash; I need to make sure Bryan is actually in bed now rather than finding an excuse to have a ten minute discussion with me on a random point I clearly got wrong three months ago.