Opinion with Matthew Munson: End of the holidays and a look to the future

Matthew and Bryan

Did you blink and miss it too? The summer holidays seem to have gone by in a flash; Bryan was, bizarrely, happy about that towards the end. Every day, he would ask how many days he had until school restarted; the day before school restarted, he had enough excited energy to run an electric plant for a week.

Being the dad to a child who is now in his last year of primary school, we need to start considering secondary schools. Bryan’s not going to do the Kent Test, so that tells us which direction to go in, and I’ve drawn up a short-list of schools for Bryan to think about. I’m grateful that, this year, schools are putting on face-to-face Open Days; there’s something about seeing the school in person that helps you get a feel for it.

I’ve said to Bryan that I want him to approach our visits with an open mind, as this is an important choice; I remember my own parents really giving me the freedom to speak my mind when I was looking at secondary schools, and I want Bryan to have that same freedom. He’s the one who will be attending the final choice, so he needs to be happy with whichever one he picks.

I have to confess that I don’t remember much from my school days; there are flashes of occasional memory, but not much. I went to Holy Cross, at the time in Broadstairs and now non-existent; I don’t recall anything about my first day … or, indeed, my first couple of years. I think fondly about some teachers – Mrs Brown, the legend, who I wish I could convince to come out of retirement so Bryan could be taught by her as well – and remember a small group of friends who were good people. I think I went on a school trip to Thorpe Park, but it’s incredibly hazy – but I remember the last day in Year 11 vividly (perhaps because it was the end of an era).

I wasn’t a very sociable child; that’s just how I was. But school is a place where you make a lot of friends, a few of whom you might then carry on with into adulthood. Bryan’s social life is something I’m really keen to help develop; he and I are very different in that aspect of our personalities, and I’m learning as I go – welcoming his good friends into our home and also ensuring that he can have fun outside of school as much as in it. Making good friends is important, and I always talking to him about the difference between a good friend and someone who is just not worth his time; he deserves good friends, after all, and I hope the lesson is starting to sink in.

School will be a big part and focus of our lives for the next few years; at the moment, Bryan wants to be a dancer when he’s older, so he’s going to a couple of dance classes after school. If that changes, we’ll change with him; I remember wanting to be anything from a police officer to a chef when I was growing up, because I was just fascinated by life and different jobs. Bryan’s ideal jobs would be dancer, cashier, and anything where he gets to help people, I suspect, and they would all be respectable choices – as would anything he chose that came from the heart.

There’s a part of me that can’t wait to see the man he becomes, but there’s another part which wants to savour every moment of the here and now. He’s growing up with depressing speed, so I want each day to last forever; Bryan wants to experience everything all at once, so things could get complicated …

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