The Phone Rule – My Daughter Comes First
I have an 8 to 8 rule. I call it 8 to 8 because it’s the time I like to maintain for family. Unless it’s an emergency, I do not want to attend to non-family matters before 8 am, and after 8pm. That means work, friends and other things can wait. In any case, they have all my day time.
So this weekend, I was playing with my daughter and bonding with her, when a text message came in. I’d put my phone on ‘loud’ because I wanted to hear it around the house as it charged from the sitting room. A message came in, and my daughter instinctively stopped playing, and told me that my phone had rung.
My heart stopped. I was wounded. It had sunk in her system that every time my phone rung, I had to attend to it no matter what. I hated that moment. That wasn’t the case. My daughter was first, always first! But despite my rule, she’d noticed that I attended to my phone quite urgently. Sometimes making her wait. Sometimes telling her to wait a bit if she asked me for something and I was in the middle of something else. She’d, sadly, learnt her place – after the phone.
This time round I did it differently. I told her no, I wasn’t going to attend to the phone, because I was with her. And that she was important to me. It was hard to explain important, so I told her that it meant that I loved her, and I wanted to do good things for her. I told her this severally, and then I told her that I would attend to the phone later, that the phone could wait.
I saw her eyes glisten and light up, and she continued playing happily, excited. She looked at me, breathed, and said, “Mum, nakupenda (I love you).” I swallowed hard. She’d touched my heart. She’d gotten the message, that she was important to me. I hugged her. The phone beeped again, and she didn’t move. She knew it was her time, her special, special time.
So there goes my 8 to 8 rule. It’s no longer about time now; it’s about the people I’m with, especially my husband and my daughter. I’ve regrettably sent the wrong message by my actions, although my words said something else. So now, if I’m in the middle of something with my daughter or my husband, I couldn’t care less who is on the phone. I’ll finish that activity first, savor that moment, and let them know that they are first in my life. I love them.