Opinion with Matthew Munson: March will be a month of milestones

Bryan's journey

Well, there you have it; half-term is gone, and the first week back at school is done. Getting back into the routine is easy – alarmingly so – especially as Bryan enjoys the things that he does in our routine; school, swimming, dancing … oh, I could go on.

We’re already half-way through the school year, and I’m struggling to comprehend that Bryan will be going to secondary school in six months. We find out what school he goes to next Tuesday, which is exciting – Bryan asked me this week if I could ring the council and get them to tell me earlier than everyone else. I had to sadly decline, which disappointed him, but he forgot about it ten seconds later when he realised that I was offering him food.

March is going to be a month with a few milestones, so I’m prepared to be a bit emotional; we find out his new school on the 1st, Bryan turns 11 on the 12th, he has his very first birthday party on the same day, and we celebrate his third anniversary of living with me on the 16th. Can you see why I expect to be something of an emotional wreck by the time March is just half-way over?

I love listening to children having a conversation; Bryan was chatting to a friend of his at a dance class the other day, and he was telling this friend (who is a lovely lad) that he is adopted and I’m a single father. To his absolute credit, Bryan’s friend said, “Oh, really? Okay. What are you having for tea tonight?” I thought that was an absolutely brilliant response; Bryan went on to discuss his tea requirements without batting an eyelid; he didn’t need to justify it any more than that, and his friend was comfortable enough to accept that information without needing to be too nosy. I was delighted by that – children really can teach us so much, and I do try to listen to what Bryan says, because there are moments when I think, “Oh, maybe I’ll try it like that.”

I sometimes wonder what Bryan will remember when he is older; which moments from his children will be strong in his mind? Hopefully he won’t remember too many of the moments when I’ve been flawed or got something wrong (because there have been plenty of them); I keep my fingers crossed that he’ll remember more of the good moments. Just this week, we were walking home from his swimming lesson, and he said – out of nowhere – “Daddy, do you remember that day when the seagull stole a sandwich out of my hand?”

I hesitated, because I did remember it, but was curious why he had remembered it right then; neither of us were eating a sandwich, and we certainly hadn’t been talking about seagulls. That incident – being dive-bombed by a pesky seagull – happened a year or more ago. I asked Bryan what made him think of that; he shrugged and just said, “I just did.” Okay.

In many ways, I’ve become more emotional since becoming a parent; events that I would have been more distant about come into sharp focus now I’m a dad – pandemics are in our homes and directly affect my son’s education, for example, and wars are raging in a world that he will continue to live in after I’m gone. Becoming a dad has broadened and deepened my experiences in a way you can never foresee, and when I find myself feeling emotionally connected to Poseidon – Bryan’s wolf who goes everywhere with us – then I know that I’m genuinely living through a time I wouldn’t change at all.