Matthew Munson: Marking five years as a dad and bouncy castle fun at Elev8

Matthew and Bryan

I did something a bit unusual this weekend – I spent an hour on a huge bouncy castle. It’s not usually my sort of thing, but Bryan and I had some free time, so I suggested that we go up to Elev8 at Westwood Cross.

We’ve been up there a couple of times, but always with friends – I’ve always spent time with the adults while Bryan goes off with his peers. But this weekend, it was just the two of us, and I decided to try it out for myself.

There were other adults inside, which made me slightly better – I had visions of me being the oldest in there by 20 or 30 years, but thankfully I was wrong. Bryan and I spent a fun hour doing something a bit different and doing it together – that made me happy.

Being a dad and trying to find a balance between all the different parts of my life can be hard. Of course, Bryan is the absolute priority, and our free time is precious to me. But, of course, we don’t spend every moment together; he goes to school, I work from home, and we each have our own interests as well. I like to be interested in what he’s interested in, even though I couldn’t dance if the future of the entire world depended on it.

I find it hard to believe that I’ve been a dad for nearly five years now. It’s gone incredibly quickly, and I find myself trying to mentally sort things in the right order, but it’s practically impossible. Covid and the lockdowns have anchored part of my life – there’s a certain “before” and “after” quality to it – but other than that, I find myself relying on Facebook Memories to tell me what happened on particular days.

I wonder what we did before social media to remind us of birthdays, special memories, and events that we’ve planned. Clearly, we managed it, but social media has become such an ingrained part of society that it seems strange to think it really only became in the last twenty years or so.

I grew up without a mobile phone. They did exist but weren’t very common; I don’t remember being aware of their existence until my early teens. Do you remember the old “brick” phones that had to be carried around connected to a huge battery pack in order to work? My very first phone had a tiny screen capable of showing a single line of text and was made out of such durable plastic I suspect it would have survived the destruction of the sun. When smart phones came along a few years later, they were like something out of Star Trek, and I recently saw a foldable smart phone for the first time – we really are living in the future.

It didn’t bother me, not having a phone, because they weren’t in the public consciousness. No-one I knew as a child had them, and life went along perfectly well without them. Bryan has a phone now, at least partly for my own peace of mind. We can stay in touch and, if there’s a problem, Bryan can tell me about it more immediately. He also uses it for his homework, his duolingo lessons, and watching YouTube shorts in his free time. It’s not just a phone, it’s a portable computer, and while he could easily use a laptop or tablet for any of these things, it makes it easier having one device for all of them.

Of course, it also means that we need to talk about being safe online regularly. As a parent, it’s an important part of my role, and I take it seriously. It’s a constantly changing landscape, so I have to make sure I know what I’m talking about, at least enough to stay up to date. Bryan will sometimes come home from school and tell me about something they’ve discussed in class, and I learn as much about the online world from those moments as well.

Being a parent is complex, and you never get it right all the time, but it’s still the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.

3 Comments

  1. No! 5 years already, wow, it doesn’t seem possible it was that long ago. I was reading your column from before you became a dad to Bryan, all the bits you had to do to be accepted for adoption, the challenges and ultimate meeting of Bryan before he knew you was going to be his dad.
    Bryan is certainly growing quickly now. He is looking so grown up.
    Keep doing what you are doing Matthew, it is a huge credit to you both.

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