Matthew Munson: Lego, dance and time for writing

Matthew and Bryan

Bryan has been working on some Lego recently, and I am in awe of the complexity of Lego designs now. They were a lot simpler when I was a child. Now there are pieces which are many thousands of bricks in size – Bryan saved up his Christmas and birthday money and bought the Space Shuttle Discovery, which had seventeen packs of pieces to assemble. The instruction book was over 300 pages long. I wondered if Bryan would struggle with the sheer magnitude of it, but because he has built up his Lego-building abilities over the last four years, he persevered and did brilliantly with it.

In the process of moving his Lego pieces around, however, another Lego set he’d already built – the Pyramid of Giza – was knocked and took some major damage. The base fell to pieces, and it wasn’t something we could just pop back together in five minutes. So the dining table has been requisitioned for a time so that the base could be built from scratch. And if you think that sounds like an easy job, take a look at the number of pieces still to go after Bryan has begun putting the outline together again.

I was delighted when Bryan asked if I wanted to do it with him; I said yes on autopilot, and it’s a pleasure to do. We’re planning to do some more this weekend (so Bryan tells me), and it’ll look great when it’s done (for a second time). These projects are great fun, and it lets me spend some quality time with my lad, so who am I to complain?

Being a parent is a continuing juggling act; wanting to spend time with your child, giving them time and space to themselves and with their friends, making sure they’re engaged with their schooling, keeping them well-fed and entertained with hobbies they enjoy, and … well, you get the picture. I found myself, the other morning, listing a number of jobs I had to get done in the morning before work, and almost grumbling about them – I hate hoovering and ironing with a passion – before Bryan sauntered casually out of his room and asked if he could show me a dance routine he’s been practising. A privilege, and all the other jobs can wait in that moment.

Things have calmed down at Casa de Munson in the last couple of weeks; it was manic in April, and I’ve deliberately slowed our Sundays down in May so that we can just enjoy some time a little more quietly at home. That opportunity to rest can often be really important; when our routine was out the window for a couple of weeks due to our diaries, I didn’t appreciate for a while that I was feeling a little out-of-sorts.

Bryan dealt with the changes like an absolute champ – children can be resilient – but I really missed our regular routine. That’s going to change as he continues to grow up, of course, and I have to brace myself for that; I’ve begun to think about ways to gently adjust routines so changes don’t come as such a big shock when we next get busy – and, of course, being busy is part of the beauty of being a family.

Carving out a little bit of time for me can be difficult sometimes – I think part of the reason I was feeling out of sorts for a while was because I struggled to be organised and do something just for me every now and then. That doesn’t mean I’m not putting Bryan first – I always do that – but in the moments when he’s busily occupied with his own things, what can I do that is distinctly mine?

I’m working on a book at the moment, which I’m thoroughly enjoying; allowing my imagination to run riot a little every day on the story has been great fun, and I’m looking forward to figuring out the ending; I’ve not quite got that bit sorted out yet. I didn’t in the previous books I’ve written, so who am I to argue?

But, for the most part, I’m savouring every moment I get with my son; it doesn’t bother me when I hear the same song erupt from Alexa for the fifteenth time that morning – it means that Bryan is living in the moment and enjoying himself. And that fills my heart.