Opinion with Matthew Munson: Special visitors, pets and Christmas

Matthew and Bryan

I have been a dad for the past two and a half years, and my son is eight. You do the maths; he had life experiences before me, and he spent two years in foster care. I’ve worked with foster carers throughout the years in my day job, but only once have I collaborated with them on something so personal; my son.

They cared for him deeply, and he them; for that, I am grateful. He was loved, cared for, and valued – exactly as he is here in his forever home. For all the changes he has experienced – moving across the country, changing schools, meeting me – the love never changed, and that helped his move into Casa de Munson so much.

We’ve not physically seen his foster carers since he moved down; we’ve face-timed them every now and then, but distance, Covid, and life have all kept us in our respective parts of the country. But this weekend, they made the journey to visit us; a lovely experience.

We treated them to fish and chips in Broadstairs, and then relaxed at our flat for a while before they had to set off again for the next leg of their journey. Bryan was delighted to see them again; his genuine affection for them has remained, and he was showing off his magic tricks before I knew what was happening. He even wanted to take them to the cricket club in order to play football, but I carefully navigated him away from that idea – there was enough to do inside the flat!

Sunday was another day of family, as we visited Bryan’s nan and granddad – and then I was being very brave and took Bryan to Pets at Home to begin discussions and negotiations about a pet. He would ideally like a kitten, but given that we live in a flat, I’ve had to nix that particular idea and work on something else – a rabbit or guinea pig or … well, you’ve got the picture. I have a slight haunted look as I consider this; I’ve never had a pet before as an adult, but I know Bryan really wants one – so I’m willing to bend. It’ll teach him a lot about responsibility and caring for someone, and they’re definitely skills I want to encourage. The things you do for children …

Incidentally, have you seen the preponderance of Christmas decorations that are already starting to show up? I took Bryan shopping this weekend, and Christmas songs were playing in one particular shop (I shan’t name it, but I only had to pay a maximum of £1 for each item); I’ve seen Christmas decorations outside a local pub, and Bryan even exclaimed, “It’s too early!”

I’ve been very organised this year and got all of my Christmas shopping completed already, mostly because we were stuck at home for 10 days because of Bryan’s Covid diagnosis. That has one major drawback, however; Bryan knows where his presents are, and it’s taking all of his self-control not to launch himself at them. He won’t, I know it, but it’s going to be a struggle for him – he’s usually allowed to open a present on Christmas Eve, although even that is a long wait for him. Alexa gives him an almost daily countdown as to how many days we have left before the big day – gulp.

I look back on the last two and a half years, and I think about all the traditions we’ve established, all the boundaries we’ve had to establish, and all the experiences we’ve had. It’s been a privilege to become a dad to such a wonderful boy, and I must never forget that – that I am privileged to be Bryan’s father.


  1. I just had a sense you was going to mention the shop with the Christmas songs going already. That will be enough to keep me out of them for the sake of my sanity. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas, I just want to enjoy it when it comes along in 6 weeks time, not now.

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