Matthew Munson: Half term and juggling time

Bryan and Matthew

Half Term is now upon us. Thank heavens. I’m glad the routine is going to be a little different for a while; our normal week is usually manic, but if anyone reading this is a parent, I don’t need to tell you that.

I am Bryan’s social secretary, administrator, external memory, and bank; I still have to work next week, so I can’t be sure a week off from school will be any calmer than a school week. It might make me a little weary, but being a parent is something I will never take for granted.

I’ve been plagued by technology problems recently. I was working on an important spreadsheet recently and, just as I was three or four lines from finishing, the laptop died. It totally shut down, and nothing I did – which consisted primarily of plaintively pressing the “power” button and wailing – made it any better.

I spoke to the IT Guru, who called in some external help, but even they couldn’t help; the hard-drive seemed to have suffered a devastating shut-down that couldn’t be repaired. I’m not entirely clear what caused this shut-down, and I don’t think I would want to know; I couldn’t retrieve the spreadsheets, despite the IT Guru’s best efforts, and I had to start almost from scratch. Cue more wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I’m not a “digital native”, as the expression goes, which is anyone born into an era where modern-day technology is normal and every day. My boy is, as tablets, laptops, wireless internet, and the metaverse have surrounded him throughout his life; he doesn’t know a world without it.

I remember the excitement when my dad came home with a laptop for his work. It was a chunky, black-and-white affair, but it had a couple of games on it that I was allowed to play once my dad had done everything he needed to do. It was an amazing piece of kit; I could move around the house with it (although I had to attach a wire to access the achingly-slow internet and hope that my mum didn’t try and call one of her sisters or a friend), and it was just … amazing. The future had reached my home!

Now we have technology everywhere; even my TV is connected to the internet, and I can work entirely from home. Bryan flits between his devices effortlessly; he can do homework online and talk to his siblings using his tablet, and I try to teach Bryan how to stay safe online. Thankfully, he is naturally a kind boy who loves people, and the thought of him being unkind is anathema; sadly, not everyone is the same, and I try and teach him how to deal with those momentary unkindnesses he might witness or experience.

I can’t have every school holiday off, as much as I wish I could; there just aren’t enough days in the week to accommodate it all. Bryan will be having some quality time with his nan and granddad next week, as well as going to a holiday club that he always enjoys; it’s very active, which is important for a child – sorry, pre-teen – like Bryan. He savours being busy, active, and hectic; I was entirely different as a child, preferring instead to sit for many hours with my nose in a book. In fact, I still would, but I parent Bryan as the child he is, not trying to make into a carbon copy of me.

I wish I could find more hours in the day to spend more time with Bryan, but he’s growing up; he wants to be with his friends, as well as other close family who treasure him, and that’s the way I like it – it would be incredibly selfish of me if I tried to monopolise every spare moment of his time. I struggle to juggle life from time to time, and I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel guilty occasionally about how I manage that juggling – but Bryan still seems to want to spend time with me, so I can’t be doing everything wrong.

Matthew Munson’s weekly column on life as a single dad, adoption and Bryan’s journey in life