Hero (a sonnet)

One by one they plotted against Hero.
Green envy was all the fuel they needed.
Their cruel leader was aptly named Nero,
A man who Hero too lately heeded.

They hated His strength, His knowledge, His wit,
And the many great victories He’d won.
Nero sent them to in His foliage sit,
And His entire life to spy upon.

They made a list of Hero’s tiny flaws,
Hero’s shortcomings and His small errors,
So, when asked for their awesome hatred’s cause,
They could give that list as its righteous source.

Nero added, “and here we have, finessed,
“A story for any thinking of greatness.”

A friend posted a query on a popular social networking type site, asking what we thought she should get her kids for Christmas. After the typical suggestions, I told her to give them a hug, a board game, and a day of her full attention.

She didn't take me seriously. She is opting for a super expensive fad toy that will likely break in a week, and trust me the child will lose interest in it about 4 days before that.

What's so wrong with us, that in many ways we have decided to let technology replace spending time with our kids? It really troubles me. People look at me like I have three heads when I tell them that we didn't have cable for the first 5 years of my children's lives, on purpose, so that they would develop a love for books and a great imagination. Let me tell you something, my kids are almost never bored. On the rare occasion when it does happen, the minute they tell me so I am shoving them outside with a skipping rope, or chalk, or a shovel (for snow days). I will take them for long walks and have I Spy games with them. I will tell them stories and listen to theirs. On colder days I will put a book in their hands and make us all some tea and cookies.

Don't get me wrong - I love technology. Gadgets are great. And sure, we have cable now (though my kids rarely watch tv to be honest) and the kids have their DS or whatever, but again, they rarely play it. They enjoy having these things, but the playtime priority for these items is lower than you would probably expect. Give my son some paper and pencil crayons and he will draw you a world. Give my daughter a notebook and she will write you a galaxy. Sit down and talk with them - they are both pretty clever, and the things that they say just crack me up like you wouldn't believe. They are the most beautiful poetry I've ever created.

I have learned over time that the most valuable gift you can give your child is your time and undivided attention. So when I told her that on top of their typical wishlist items she should give them a hug, a board game, and a day of her full attention, I was 100% serious. What's wrong with that?

Walking the bleached timber board walk with Kristen;
mangroves branching to one side, cormorants diving for silvery whiting on the other.
Peering underneath the boat ramp at the anemones, sea lettuce and branching sway beneath.
The rich mesh of life at the less fashionable end of the dolphin food chain.

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