Matthew Munson: A busy week at Casa de Munson

Bryan and Matthew

This week has been a busy one at Casa de Munson; some home learning, catching up with friends, normal schooling (thank heavens – a teacher I am not), and a weekend where Bryan got to do something new; some dance exams.

I made a vow to myself when I became a dad that I would be a parent who supported the person Bryan wanted to be, rather than steer him down a path that I felt was right for him. That involved a few false starts as he tried different activities; swimming was a success, and important given that we live by the sea – but he didn’t want to continue with it after the end of the final grade. He tried tennis for a while. But dance was something he fell in love with almost from the start; after lockdown, he started at a dance school in Ramsgate (Masque), and now does three lessons a week.

I was respectful of his ambitions, and when he initially wanted to take more time before trying some exams, I entirely supported that. But this year, he really wanted to get involved – and, this weekend, he’s taken part in two exams. Of course I’m proud; it goes without saying. He has put in a lot of effort and energy into them, so I hope he does well (I’m sure he will), and I know he is developing his own personality and his own interests as a result – what an achievement for any child to discover a true passion. I think we could all take a leaf out the book of any child who does something they genuinely care about.

Being a parent is an ever-changing evolution; when you begin to suspect that you understand one small element of it, the rug is pulled from under you; your children grow up and grow into a new phase of their development. I’ve only been a dad for the past four years, and I’ve still got a hell of a lot to learn. I know that I can’t parent a 12 year old in the same way that I used to parent an eight year old. It’s hard to imagine how quickly things change, and I’m glad that I’ve taken a lot of photos and videos to try and retain some memories of the past few years.

The quest to carve out a niche for myself is still going on. Please let me be plain; being a parent is still the most important role I’ve ever had in my life, but the security of our relationship is getting to a point where I might find just a few hours every week to do something for me. My initial plan of a hobby is still there in my mind, but something else has taken hold instead; going back to the education system as an adult.

The potential of doing a degree has dug into my brain and isn’t letting go; it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, looking at a particular subject in detail for a few years. A friend has started a degree as an adult, and I’ve been inspired to consider something similar. I’m going to an open day in a few weeks, so watch this space. At the moment, Bryan wants to come with me; I’d be glad of his company, but he’ll have the chance to change his mind, as I’ll be there for at least three or four hours, and I’d hate for him to be bored. We’ll see – any experiences of doing some learning as an adult would be gratefully appreciated.

Bryan, as I’ve said, matters more than anything. To see him happy and content is something I will always strive for. I know that I must not tell him “I love you” anywhere people can hear us – indeed, pretty much all public displays of affection are off-limits – and walking with him to school ever is a big no-no. But those moments when we laugh together, or spend time just talking or playing, and he doesn’t seem to mind spending time with me – well, they’re the most precious things I can hope to savour.


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