Lachlan and I spent the weekend in the Barringtons, glorious countryside just northwest of Newcastle, at our annual church camp. On Saturday afternoon all the boys went horseriding, but after a not-so-good experience last year, Lachlan decided he wouldn’t join them. Instead we spent two hours hanging out together. We played cricket, then explored the river. We skipped stones across it and threw large rocks into it with as much force as we could to generate as large splashes as we could. It was a wonderful couple of hours, a father and son enjoying each other’s company, chatting, laughing, amazing each other with our skills.

But so much more was happening. When Lachlan asked “Do you want to play cricket Dad?” I was talking over coffee with a group of adult friends. My “yes” to his request told him he mattered. When we’d finished cricket and returned to the shed for a drink Lachlan picked up his ipad and began playing a game. The eagerness with which he put it aside when I asked if he wanted to skim rocks in the river reminded me that technology cannot replace the hunger for relationship.

As he hit boundaries, caught high looping balls, made rocks skip across the river, hit targets we aimed rocks at, it was not only fun, he was testing and proving his skills and gaining the praise of his father. I remember doing similar things with my father.

These seem such simple things, but I suspect they are profoundly important to young boys. To his dying day my father was one of the most profound influences on my life and I want it to be the same for Lachy, Ash and Jess.

I don’t buy the argument that it’s quality time that matters, not quantity of time. I think my children need large quantities of quality time with me. It’s not the movies they watch, the friends they have, or the technology they utilise that will have the greatest impact in their lives. It’s me. And their mum. It’s from us more than any others they’ll learn they’re valuable; their values; their wisdom; that there are soft and safe places in the universe; how to love, forgive and fight.

Skipping stones with Lachy reminded me once again that skipping stones, passing a footy back and forward for half an hour, catching a movie together, sharing meals, are all really, really important uses of my time.

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