Matthew Munson: As Bryan starts to spread his wings, I need to figure out what that means for me

Matthew and Bryan

One thing any parent worries about is how easy it will be for your child to make friends. I was anxious like anyone to see how well Bryan would cope with making new friends as he began a new journey, but I was relieved to see that he has settled on a small group of friends that seem to be nice, friendly, and kind – they seem to share some good values, which is lovely to see.

As Bryan is growing up, he is becoming more independent. There’ll come a time when he starts going to the park with his friends, or down to the town, or whatever else boys do as they grow up. I led a bit more of a sheltered life, so I have to be a bit vague on that one; I trust that he’ll show some good judgement and talk to me when he makes mistakes. I want to give him as much support as I can in making good judgements in and out of home, and I know that I can’t hover over him every second of every day; that’s just not healthy. He needs to learn how he can keep himself safe – and when to come to me to support him, which I always will.

Bryan seems to change almost daily now; I look back at the boy he was when he was eight and first came home, or when I first met him at seven, and it seems a world away. We’ve gone through so much since then – we’ve established a lovely routine with his siblings and their family, we’ve lived through a pandemic, and Bryan has become a lot more secure as he seemed to have realised that he is in his forever home.

It is amazing to see a child develop at their own pace; I learnt quickly that there’s no right or wrong answer as to how a child should or shouldn’t develop, and I’ve always vowed that I wouldn’t put any pressure on Bryan to be a certain person or grow up in a certain way.

Of course, as Bryan starts to spread his wings, I need to figure out what that means for me. I will get a bit more free time when Bryan spends time with his friends, and I don’t want to be working every second of every day. In the new year, I might (whisper it) find a new hobby just for me, if it fits in around my relationship with Bryan. He won’t particularly notice either way, I suspect, but it’s important I have activities that are primarily mine. I don’t know what they are as yet, but I suspect I won’t be short of options; Thanet is a busy place.

As you read this column, I’ll undoubtedly have collapsed into a heap after doing a sponsored walk with Bryan. I’m sure you can imagine that I haven’t written this column whilst doing the walk on Sunday afternoon, so I can’t tell you quite how well Bryan and I have done (in terms of fundraising or time), but I know we’ll have found some interesting diversions en route. That’s the beauty of living in a place like Thanet; the coastlines are varied enough to make sure we’re interested in the world around us. I like to encourage Bryan in finding joy in nature; I don’t pretend to be an expert in such things, but I know what it’s like to have fun in the great outdoors – and I want to share that with Bryan.

Now that we’re in half-term (Bryan’s half-term is two weeks this term, rather than one), we have a few activities planned; bowling, cinema, time with nan and granddad, a trip away to see his siblings, and so on. We’re having some quality time together this half-term, because we do have a good relationship, and I genuinely enjoy spending time with him – I hope he thinks the same of me (I’m pretty certain he does!). As he grows, he will be splitting his time between me and his friends more, so I’m planning on enjoying this time as much as I can.

We’ve also agreed on his Halloween costume for trick and treating as well; I wanted to keep costs down a little, so when he suggested being Vecna from Stranger Things, my heart sunk a little – but when I pointed out that people wouldn’t be able to see his face and know who he was, that soon changed his mind.

I can read his mind pretty darn well.


  1. I often wonder what Bryan really thinks about intimate and personal details of his past, present and future being disclosed every week in this public forum – and any effect it may have on him.

    Growing up and teenage years can be difficult enough. Perhaps the lad may prefer a little more privacy as he develops and matures.

  2. I have thought the same John. I would have hated my parents writing about my life every week. It would have been so embarrassing. I do enjoy reading your coloum but now he’s at secondary school you should stop writing about him.

  3. I think it would do you a power of good to develop some adult relationships. It seems as though your life has been on hold for several years as you care for Bryan. Now he is discovering his own social life, perhaps it’s time for you to resume yours.

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