Opinion with Matthew Munson: Making school memories as a sense of normality returns

Matthew and Bryan

Do you remember your move from primary to secondary school? I don’t – at least, not very well. I can remember going on a tour round Hereson, and I remember a teacher from Holy Cross coming to visit my primary school; given that both of those high schools have now closed or merged, I’m perhaps dating myself to a particular era; this was the early 90s.

In the end, I went to Holy Cross – not for any religious reasons, but because people I knew at primary school were going there. That wouldn’t be the basis for my decision if I had to do it again (and, of course, if I was able to retain all the knowledge in my head when I travelled back in time); but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Wisdom comes with age, doesn’t it? Surely?

Bryan has seen all the schools he and I want to see, and we’ve spent some time talking it through; he’s picked a first choice of secondary school that I – thankfully – agree with, and that came without any pressure from me. I helped him think it all though and look at the different schools’ strengths, but he is strong-minded (stubborn); he knew which school was right for him, and we were entirely in agreement.

Now, of course, we wait; it takes until March next year for us to hear the outcome of the application (the same with every other family). There’s a section in the application which asks about Bryan’s family make-up and background; I declared his adoption status, as there was a section for that, and read the supporting documents – Bryan’s past as a child in care puts him further up the list, which might give him more of a chance to get into the school he wants. From that point of view, it’s a bonus; of course, he’d have preferred not to have gone through all of the stuff that came before, but if there are upsides to it (like – oh, I don’t know – coming into my life and making me a proud father; it’s the little things in life), then I utterly welcome that opportunity.

We’re getting ready to move into a new phase of life now, as secondary school starts to loom large in my son’s future. I’m pleased, however, that his last year at primary school is something akin to “normal”; he had his school photos this week, there’s talk of school trips being organised, and next year’s sports day should be open to parents – yippee. That means he – and so many other children – get that valuable experience of normality during an important year.

I really want Bryan to look back on his school days with a sense of contentment, which is why it’s been so important for me – for both of us – to find the right fit for him. I think we have; now we just have to wait and see.

By the by, a quick note to end on; Bryan and I were waiting on a train station platform recently, and Bryan – being a far more outgoing person than me – started chatting to a lady in her 60s next to him on the bench. A few minutes later, she got up to go and said to me (entirely straight-faced); “What a polite young man. You must be so proud of your grandson.”

Grandson. She thought … I can’t even bring myself to type the words again, but you get the picture. I’m 40 years old. Forty. I was born in 1981. My hair is greying, certainly, and I shave most of it off – but for preference, not because I’m rapidly balding due to my advancing years. She thought I was his grandfather – I just … I have no words.

I’m not asking for any reassurance – I don’t look 21, I’m self-aware enough of that – but I just had to share that with you. What will I look like to her when I do become a grandfather? No, on second thoughts, don’t answer that.

1 Comment

  1. It might have been the hat that made her say that Matt ! Just take it that the older we are the wiser we become, so all is good, no really. It would have been nice to receive the compliment about Bryan though as that will rub off on what a good job you are doing with him.

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