Matthew Munson: Dance, tennis and heading into the holidays

Matthew and Bryan

I am not a dancer, that much is certain. Bryan is most certainly the opposite; he had rhythm, whereas I have a plethora of left feet. This weekend, he is showing off his dancing skills in a show being organised by Masque Theatre School, and he is (as you might imagine) more excited than it should be possible to be.

When I became a dad, I made a vow that Bryan would have the opportunity to explore his interests and find out what he liked; I had those opportunities as a child. Mine were mostly quiet, indoorsy interests – reading, writing, that sort of thing – and, while Bryan likes reading and likes language, his interests diverge from mine. Which should be the case, of course, and it’s right that I support him in finding out the person he wants to be.

He’s done swimming, and he’s happy to have completed all the different stages, and he recently tried tennis; he threw himself into it, and then had a quiet word with me the other day and said that he didn’t want to carry on. He’d tried it, and that was enough for him – and that’s enough for me to.

He wants to give things a go; some will stick and some won’t. So far, Bryan is connected to dancing and wants to carry on with it; I’m glad, as he has a talent, and it’s a blessing to see it encouraged at Masque (I certainly can’t teach him!). This weekend is given up almost entirely to the show, and I have absolutely no qualms about getting involved; I saw him rehearsing the other night, and I must confess that a tear came to my eye – to see him so happy and enjoying himself was an absolute joy.

Being a parent is so very intense – Am I giving them enough attention? Have I chosen the right school? Is he socialising with children who have good values? – and I really enjoy the privilege of being a dad. I had to go through a very long process to be accepted, and that’s entirely right. But I always want to make sure that I’m doing the right thing for my lad, and as he grows, Bryan is already starting to stretch his wings – he doesn’t need to be attached to my hip as much, he can cope with being by himself for a little while, and he enjoys being with his friends as much as me (or perhaps even more if I’ve been nagging him). He’s growing into teenagerhood with some degree of confidence.

It’s been lovely to watch him at the dance show this weekend, watching the performances and spending time with his friends. I don’t know very many pre-teens, naturally, so watching his relationships develop is reassuring that it’s all … normal stuff; “normal” being a subjective term, of course.

Next week is Bryan’s last week at school, so I suspect there will be some high emotions throughout the week. However he shows them, those emotions will indeed be there, and it’s okay for him to explore his feelings while he also moves onto something new – secondary school. We have a few activities planned for the summer holidays – including seeing his awesome siblings – and they’ll help keep him grounded and secure. I’ll also be organising the practicalities of school uniform, bus passes, reading books … oh, I could go on and on, as the list is seemingly endless. I’m hoping to have a day or two to relax in between all of this, and that’ll be a nice change from the routine.

I’ve been a dad for more than three years now, and I’m certainly not perfect. I’ve learnt so much in these few years, and it’s lovely to think that I get to have this role for the rest of my life, in one way or another. As Bryan grows up, he won’t need me in the same way anymore, and when he’s an adult, he’ll be leading his own life – but I get to be his dad for a very long time (I’m only 41, after all), irrespective of where life takes us. This summer’s going to be an interesting one as I help Bryan prepare for secondary school and a bit more independence – and we just have some fun as well.