Opinion with Matthew Munson: Freedom Day comes to the Munson household

Matthew and Bryan

Freedom Day is upon Casa de Munson. Yes indeed, Bryan and I can once again leave our home. Oh joy – pure, unadulterated freedom!

I am slightly over-excited, this much is true. We live in a block of flats, and have never stayed indoors for such a long time before; I never did even before I became a father. Bryan had to miss two days of school (the last two days of term, so I don’t think he missed anything major – except, of course, for his friends). I feel his pain to a degree – although, being a mild introvert, I’ve coped on the social front more than he has.

We’ve had to miss out on a few activities because we were stuck indoors, but we are out just in time for Halloween – phew. Bryan gets exceptionally excited about holidays – Christmas and Halloween in particular – so I am absolutely fine with celebrating both of them for him. Seeing the smile on his face is more than enough for me.

Saturday evening, I took Bryan to a Halloween party over at Jungle Jims; a couple of his friends were there as well, and it was lovely to see them playing together. It was perhaps extra joyous given that we were outside the four walls of home.

As I write this week’s column, it’s the early hours of Halloween (it’s often the only chance I get to sit down and concentrate). Later on, we’ll be going Trick or Treating around our local area, like I did with my parents when I was a kid; it’s such a pleasure to pass on these sort of things to my son and see the smile on his face.

He’s not quite ready to focus on tomorrow yet – the excitement of Trick or Treating is still too high – but, of course, he’s back to school on Monday morning. He needs that – academically and socially. He’s had pretty much me for company over the past ten days (and his nan and granddad on facetime), so he’s desperate to see other people – his brilliant teacher and TA, his friends, and the routine of school. I am very thankful to have a son who enjoys school, so I am encouraging that passion as much as I can.

I’ve been asked a couple of times how we got through self-isolation; I had to work, after all, and we had to deal with the disappointment of not doing some activities. The answer is, “we just did.” I didn’t want Bryan’s mind to just vegetate, so I set him some daily challenges – some of which worked better than others – and put in a solid routine to give him a sense of familiarity. I accept that it was a coping strategy because of the situation we found ourselves in, but it allowed Bryan to feel safe whilst I could focus on a few other bits – like working, for example.

I was pretty much exhausted by the end of the ten days; I was up early getting a few of my own things done before then focusing on Bryan when he woke up. I’m looking to getting back to normality as well next week; I admit it, to give me a little bit of time to myself. I love my son deeply – that much comes through my column, I hope – but loving him doesn’t mean having him by my side 24 hours a day. Loving him means giving him opportunities both with me and without me – school, with friends, and hobbies – and taking some time for myself as well so that I’m recharged and more attentive.

When I became a dad in March 2019, I didn’t know – none of us did – what would be coming a year later; new words entered our language such as lockdown, social distancing, and home schooling. It wasn’t quite how I planned for my second year of parenting to begin, but it’s made me – I hope – more attuned to Bryan’s needs, and perhaps a little bit of a better parent (not a perfect parent, however – I am definitely not that). I am incredibly proud of how Bryan has coped with the self-isolation of the last ten days, and we’re going to enjoy our Trick or Treating today very much. Happy Halloween.

1 Comment

  1. You appreciate those things a bit more when you have been kept from doing them. Bryan and you will know that much after being cooped up at home for 10 days. Must be great to go out again just in time for the Halloween festivities.
    Yes Matt, you are doing great as a father and Bryan is learning a lot from you as well as from school. I am sure all will be fine now you have come out the other side of the enforced lockdown period. Lets hope there are no more instances similar to that as it will get a bit monotonous in time with repeated lockdowns. I hope Bryan’s school is doing all it can to reduce the possibilities there too.
    I always enjoy reading your opinion column each week as am sure many others do. Let us know how the Halloween venture went next week. I think the weather actually managed to stay dry long enough for plenty to go out. I heard a few shouts and screams near me in Cliftonville so hope everyone enjoyed themselves.

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