Opinion with Matthew Munson: Being a dad is pretty darn cool

Bryan is growing more independent

Part of building a strong routine is knowing when to bend and break it a little; this weekend, we’ve done just that, and it’s been lovely to mix things up a little.

Bryan has two siblings, who are lovely human beings and live further along the coast. This weekend, we’ve been able to spend some time with them in their home town. I’m writing this on Sunday in our hotel as we have a break from all the action; it’s entirely possible that the rest is more for me than it is for Bryan, but I’m not going to admit that just yet.

I always have to remind myself of the resilience of children; I was worried if the weekend might be exhausting for the children, especially with the travelling Bryan and I are doing – but then I remembered that this is a break from our usual routine, and Bryan will have plenty of time to chill out next week.

Bryan having an ongoing relationship with his siblings is lovely to see; they truly are lovely children, and their parents are as committed to them as I am to Bryan, so I’ve gained friends as much as Bryan continues to enjoy a really positive relationship with people he loves and cherishes.

It’s a brilliant thing, being a parent; and being a single parent is a whole new level of intensity. Making sure Bryan is safe and well cared for is so important, but making sure Bryan is independent and able to think for himself is also important. He is growing slowly in desire to show and assert his independence, and that can sometimes outstrip his age; Bryan is ten, as I sometimes have to remind him.

That said, he’s starting to get more opportunities to expand his independence, because I want to make sure he’s doing it safely. I’m gradually giving him some freedom at the school gates; when he comes out at the end of the day, he can still see me, but he has to cross a road to get to me. I can see how well he’s doing, and judge when it’s a good thing for me to take a step even further back – in time, even out of sight so that he gets that taste of more freedom.

My parents live about ten minutes away from us, and in the next couple of weeks, he’ll be walking to them by himself – he doesn’t know that yet, and I know that’ll cause great excitement. He’s made the point to me many times that he knows the way very well and is confident that he could do it by himself; okay, so let’s try it. He has a mobile phone, and we’ve spent some time talking about what he would do if there was an issue he was worried about, so now it’s undoubtedly time to put him to the test.

As a parent, I’m desperate to keep him safe and protected all the time, and I’ve spent the last three years with him as my shadow. I’ve grown quite used to that in many ways and enjoy his company immensely – but I have to know when to lengthen the cord between us so that he can try out new things and become safely independent. I’ll be an emotional wreck, for sure, but that’s probably also being part of parenthood.

He does me proud, and I love seeing him grow up and forge relationships with people around him; on the whole, he’s a responsible, kind, and loving child, and what a joy he is. Being a dad is pretty darn cool.