Matthew Munson: Braces, elections, university and a long weekend

Bryan and Matthew

A coronation and council elections in the same week; we’ve certainly had a lot going on, but nothing compared to the visit to Bryan’s dentist after his newly-fitted braces needed some urgent adjustments.

He got his braces a couple of weeks ago, and it’s involved some adjustments for both of us; thinking about certain foods he can’t eat, and how to manage when a brace breaks. I never had braces, so I’m learning along with Bryan; I think as parents we’re always learning.

In my twenties, I had absolutely no desire to be a parent – I had plenty of other things going on in my life that children didn’t enter my consciousness at all. I can’t remember in the slightest when that began to change, but it had to have been when I entered my thirties. Life can be fragile sometimes; I had originally started exploring parenthood a couple of years earlier than it ended up happening, but then my work plans collapsed and I moved back in with my folks for a year – so adoption went on the back-burner for a while. In a way, I’m grateful that happened, because I got to become dad to Bryan as a result, and what a joy that has been over the last four years.

He is now twelve, and I am so very proud of the young man he has turned into. He has a kind heart, a good brain, and a passion for dance that is fantastic to watch; I can’t wait to go and watch him in his dance show later in the year. Last year, in his first one, I might have even shed a tear of pride, and I’m absolutely not embarrassed to admit that.

I’m stretching myself in June by going to a university open day. I’ve been chatting to a couple of friends recently about ways to improve myself and my skills; it goes without saying that I want to be the best dad I can possibly be first and foremost, but I want to also broaden my horizons. I work part-time, and there’s the opportunity to study for something new. I’ve got a couple of courses in mind, but I really want to get beneath the surface of what they offer and how I could – hopefully – manage it. Bryan has said he wants to come with me, but we’ll see if that changes as we get closer; it would be lovely to show him what a university looks like, in case he decides that it’s what he wants to do with his future.

I’m also conscious that I’m setting an example for Bryan as well; I want him to see that learning never ends, and that you can always be ambitious for your future. I’m 41, and I’ll realistically be working for another 25 (and change) years; so I want to be able to invest the little bit of free time I have into something that broadens my mind. It might end up that university isn’t for me, but I’m curious enough to explore the possibility.

I’ve been following the election results (as I write this column) as they come in; The Isle of Thanet News has been covering it on social media, which has been a little addictive. I’m fascinated by politics, and I’ve introduced Bryan to it as much as I can; it’s going to be his future on this planet, and he’ll be eligible to vote in just six years (my son’s going to be an adult in six years – gulp). I want him to be able to think critically and decide thoughtfully who he wants to vote for; when he recently watched me fill in my postal vote form, he was making a couple of suggestions which I liked – he’d clearly been thinking about it, and it made me hopeful that he would be interested enough to vote in the future.

With the extra bank holiday this weekend, we’ll be catching up with some friends, as well as spending some quality time together and with our wider family. Both Bryan and I like our routine, and it’s been too busy to properly follow that over the last couple of weeks, so I’m looking forward to slowing things down this weekend and just enjoying the quiet moments. Have a lovely long weekend, however you spend it.