Whenever I travel home from Tororo or Juba to Entebbe where my wife and children live, my son often asks me after a hug what I have brought them. If I am from Tororo, I often tell him that I have brought them some fruit and he might as well say that he did not expect something like but something like crisps, chewing gum – something ready to eat here and now. And if I am from Juba, he usually expects some cookies, sweets, Pringles, cornflakes etc but sometimes I have also learnt tease him a little bit by holding back the gift and saying I have brought him myself. Amazingly, he has learnt to smile at it while saying that that was not what he really meant but rather something sweet to eat. And when I bring out the gift, he often gives another hug and says,” I love you my daddy”, rather say thank you daddy.
Having said that, one would think that something sweet for instant gratification is all daddy is good for to the little ones. I have learnt, though, that that is hardly the case, for many a time having had a bite or two of what I have brought them or even if it were a toy, they will soon abandon in the living room and return to the bedroom if I am still in bed because of fatigue. And very likely they will come with their pillows from their bedroom and each one of them place them on, one on the right and the other on the left and lie there asking questions, After which, they likely to ask me to leave bed and go to the dining table for breakfast with and watch cartoons with them.
Last month when I told my kids in the middle of their first term school holiday that I was returning them from our country home in Tororo to Entebbe in preparation my return to Juba, my son asked me one early morning who gave me the job in Juba and I told him that it was my boss. Before he went on to with the conversation, I thought that my son was appreciating the fact that I had a job because I remembered the time in the past when he asked me why I did go to work in an office like his mother and I said I worked in the farm. Well, that is very far from what the little gentleman I had in mind. “I don’t like your job”, came the very surprising answer and the reason was simple, “because it takes you away from us. We want to be with you all the time.”
I told my son that I would be in Juba for just a while to earn money to finance the projects at home which would keep avail me more time to spend with them and also be able to buy them the things they like and be able to take them out as often as we could. That helped calm his nerves for at least the course of the trip from Tororo to Entebbe. When I told him that I had a few hours to go before leaving for Juba, he said that I should not make him cry and miss me a lot. And for that he asked me to them from school whenever I am around rather than be dropped by the school van and also take them to play at the Lions Club Children’s playground plus taking them for evening walks.
Last Wednesday when I arrived in Entebbe from Tororo for the night journey to Juba, I was very hungry having left Tororo early morning before breakfast but I did not ask the house helper for food even if it was lunch time because I was looking forward to eating with my beloved who was due home for lunch. To keep myself busy as I waited for her, I decided to rake the grass from the lawn that had just been mowed. However, when she arrived, she made a beeline for the dining table after greeting me.
When it took longer than I expected to be invited into the house for lunch, I walked into the living room to find my beloved eating and you can imagine how I felt. Well, when I asked my beloved why she had not invited me in for lunch, she said that she thought that I would not have liked to be disrupted from the raking till it was all done.
I let my wife finish her lunch and I went back to the raking, and had reluctantly had lunch alone when I was done with the lawn and she too had returned to work.
Like my kids, I had missed one of the greatest gifts any beloved would give to their loved ones – QUALITY TIME.
We made up, though, for the missed lunch date later that afternoon by going for the kids from school and shopping together before I left for Juba.
Whenever I had time to relax and reflect this week, two lines from two different old Christmas songs have rang out in my mind – “Do not save it all for Christmas” and the other line – “It not the things that you do at Christmas but the Christmas things you do all year round…”
Please, please, if you have loved ones, spend quality time with them. It might be well the best gift you will ever give them to avoid wishing you but being glad you did when the future is here with us.