Matthew Munson: A busy social life (yes, Bryan’s) means we need lists

Matthew and Bryan

Who here likes a list? I’ve found that I need to be a lot more organised lately, so lists are incredibly important for my family; so important, in fact, I’ve had to start a spreadsheet to keep track of this summer.

As you might imagine, it’s not my social life that’s causing the lists to multiply beyond belief, it’s Bryan’s. As an 11 year old, he has hobbies he’d like to attend, school events that are going on, and weekends where he and I get to spend time with each other. I have little lists that help both of us keep track but given that this is his last term at primary school, and the summer holidays are after that, I need to put everything in one place or my brain will start to seep out through my ears. Hence the spreadsheet.

I was asked recently if I would ever want to have a second child, and I immediately knew the answer; no. Not because I don’t love being a parent, but because managing time with just two of us in a family is quite enough for me – managing three people would be an entirely new order of magnitude. Bryan has siblings, although they do live elsewhere, and I think they’re important relationships to cultivate; there’s a lot of love and trust there. I don’t have any siblings, so managing those kinds of relationships is new to me; I’m learning as I go, and I think I enjoy focusing my energy on the one brilliant child I’m fortunate to have.

Bryan is a very active child – asking him to sit down for too long is like asking Sonic the Hedgehog to walk slowly (we saw the film recently, so the imagery’s stuck in my head) – and he loves the dance lessons he goes to every week. The dance school is putting on a big show in July, so everything is starting to gear up now for that; Bryan’s time and focus will be a lot more on that over the next few weeks and, in a way, that’s good. He is counting down his final few weeks at primary school, so I want to help him with the mix of emotions he’ll inevitably be feeling; the sadness and nerves are entirely understandable, and we’re talking about them, but if there are activities that distract him as well, that’s always a good thing.

I finished my schooling in 1999 at the tender age of 18, and it was a very different world; technology in the classrooms was in its infancy, and some of the lessons and GCSE scores were very different to now. Bryan talks to me about his day and how he learns, and it’s so much more diverse now – Bryan’s class has a TA as well as a teacher, and that gives the balance of the classroom a very different mix. They work well together, it seems, and it’s nice to hear from Bryan how the students seem to be able to work in different ways whilst still learning; he’s quite academic, and there’s a definite blend in his class of different styles – and the school doesn’t seem phased by that. That in itself is reassuring, and it makes me think very much about how I experienced school; I loved learning, but my secondary school wasn’t very therapeutic (at least to me) – in that sense, I’m glad it’s all changed.

June and July are proving to be busy months for casa de Munson – hence the spreadsheet – and I’m fine with that. Bryan wants to make the most of this time in his current school, and he wants to try out different things – there’s a week-long performing workshop at his dance school in the summer holidays – so I’m going to do all I can to help him. He’s still catching up on brilliant experiences as compared to his earlier life, and I completely understand that; we’re cramming a lot into a smaller number of years.

As Bryan grows up, he’s making friends, trying out new things, and meeting new people. I’m still his dad, and will always be an important part of his life, but puberty is kicking in, and curiosity about new experiences is starting to bloom. It’s a joy to watch him experience these things, and to see him grow.