France didn’t like my technology. Somewhere over the English Channel my iPhone decided it wanted to update its software so for the entire duration of our holiday it was frozen. Useful.
We had an iPod with us too, but on arriving at the hotel I found that my vintage European adapter failed to have the correct hole – apparently France is earthing its electricals these days.
And could I find a new English to European adapter anywhere in the local shops? No.
Then there was the TV in our room which didn’t seem to work. So that was that – no e-mails, texts or calls, no games, music and no internet. We were thrust into just our own company for the whole stay.
He had a bit of a whinge on the first day about not being able to play whatever free app game he had most recently downloaded.
I had an unsettling feeling of being disconnected from everything else in my life as my entirely useless phone got relegated to the back of the draw for the rest of the holiday.
But after that first day, I had an amazing night’s sleep. I stopped worrying about who might be trying to contact me about something urgent.
We chatted, we swam, we read together and played games with the pen and paper I had bought. We laughed lots. It was lovely.
In fact, it was so different from normal that it made me realise how much I let all those other things rule my life on a day-to-day basis.
It made me question how much mental space I actually give to that most important person in my life.
When we got home, I came across a quote: ‘Children are not a distraction from more important work.
‘They are the most important work’.
Seems like an obvious statement – of course they are.
Yet, as much as I know it’s true, it made me think; do
I actually put it into practice, or have I got my priorities a bit off track at the moment?
How many times in a day do I say to him ‘hang on, I’ve just got to finish this e-mail’ when he tries to get my attention?
How often do I rush through the bedtime hour because I know I have an evening of work in front of me, or a ton of housework to catch up on?
How often do I actually give him my complete attention when he is talking to me, rather than half-thinking about something else?
After all, it won’t be long before he’s a teenager and the last thing he’ll probably want to do is talk to me!
It’s good to step outside of our normal space sometimes, to re-evaluate the way we are doing things.
At the moment, I constantly feel like I’m dropping off the back of the treadmill and it seems like it’s time to shuffle things around a bit.
So sadly this is my last column in Family Life. If you’ve been reading each week, thanks. I’ve really enjoyed writing it.