Matthew Munson: Time together and an introduction to St George’s school

Matthew and Bryan

You know those busy weeks we all sometimes have? It’s been a bit like that here at Casa de Munson, with a visit to St George’s school, tennis lessons (Bryan, not me, as if that even needed explaining), dance lessons (see my previous comment), visits to nan and granddad … and so on.

I always like to spend our Sundays doing something interesting – last week, we went to the Ellington Park fair and ended up spending about six hours there, as Bryan made friends and played what I am assured was an “epic” football match – and this weekend is no exception, but in a different way; we are staying at home and relaxing.

Both of us, I think, need a day just like that; I forget sometimes, as I work at home, that Bryan’s not at home as much as I am. I drop him off at school and come home to work, then go out again to pick him up; my time at home far outstrips his, and I do realise that he needs that time as well. So this Sunday, we will be playing some board games, watching some TV, and doing whatever else we feel like we want to do on the day. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m really looking forward to that.

Speaking of St George’s (as I briefly did at the start), Bryan got to spend an hour in a mini English lesson there on Monday, while I listened to a talk from the English teachers. This sort of introduction to the school wasn’t around when I was a child, and I’m really glad it is around now; it allows the students to get used to their new surroundings and – I hope – reduce some of their anxieties. They’ll want to be reassured that the teachers are decent and kind and knowledgeable, and how to get from A to B, as well as how to pay for the dessert trolley which he believes exists at St George’s and has formed the centre-piece of his consciousness of the school ever since.

There are a number of sessions over the next few weeks, on each of the main topics – English, Maths, humanities, creative subjects, and so on. They do also discuss their Christian ethos, which – despite being a godless heathen myself (I think the technical term is atheist) – makes absolute sense, as they are connected to the church. Their values are ones I can absolutely support – hope, compassion, and forgiveness being the three I can remember without needing to get up and find their welcome booklet – so I want to see how Bryan will learn about faith and non-belief so that he can make up his own mind when he’s ready to.

I liked school overall, although the school system I left at 18 (22 years ago – gulp) was very different to the one Bryan is going into now. Technology is way more advanced, and there is a therapeutic element to St George’s that I really like; I can see how much they really do care about the students and want them to achieve. There are high standards, but they share those ideals with kindness, support, and thoughtfulness that I like.

Bryan is lucky; he has a year six class at his current school that he likes, with a teacher he respects (and, I suspect, hero worships a bit as well – that’s fine, as he’s picking up good values from the teacher), a TA who he likes, and a class in which he has made some really good friends. Making friends is really important to any child, and making the right friends is absolutely really important to me; Bryan seems to recognise that at some level, as he seems to spend his time with a group of kids who are decent and kind; that gives me hope as he grows up and chooses new friends at secondary school.

Being a parent is a never-ending forward motion of pride, anxiety that you’re doing it right, and trying to figure out how best to help your child achieve good things in life. I’ve missed a lot in that clumsy summary, but it’s still a brilliant thing to have done – Bryan is a boy I am immensely proud of, and I get to help him transition to secondary school.

This coming Monday is the maths session; I hope I don’t have to explain anything in this session, as I’m lost after the one times tables. Wish me luck.