Because to be Zao is to be in motion.
"Stand still, I want to take your picture," I said.
He heard: "Put your face about an inch away from the camera lens!"
He stood there for a few moments, impish grin hovering in the corner of his mouth, eyes bearing into mine. "Do you see me? Am I still here to you?"
Admittedly there are times that I don't see him, all I see are the things that need to be done, all I see is the unruly and trying behavior. I see interruption and interference.
Dr Laura Markham, on her blog Aha! Parenting, writes a lot about connection. I think it is the single-most valuable thing I have learned from her. Connection has become the most effective tool in my parenting arsenal. It turns a craptastic day completely around. Every single time.
Connecting with my children is actually quite a challenge for me. I am a doer, go-getter, motivated worker bee. I am efficient and quick-thinking; I know how to get sh*t done, man. Ask Zao's Daddy. He'll tell you. It drives him NUTS sometimes.
Connection doesn't call for any of that, at all. Being a restaurant chef, or a good housekeeper, sure! I can make a tight ship of a kitchen; I can keep this crib so sparkling clean it'll blind you. Connection, though, that's a different speed, that's a whole different side of existence that does not come naturally to me. Yet it is the most important thing I can do for my children.
And so I try. Some days I succeed, and those are always, always, such brilliantly marvelous days! Most days I'm still just trying.
It helps to have reminders around. On my refrigerator I have a piece of plain computer paper on which I've written the words: "There are no emergencies. BREATHE. CONNECT." Oh, it also says, "They're acting like children because they ARE children." :) I am not exaggerating when I say that having it written out like that has helped me a lot. The Daddy uses it to hold me accountable, too.
Connection means I have to stand still and stop doing in order to see and to be present. Though presently it is difficult, in the long run I know I will be glad to have worked toward it. Otherwise, it's all just a blurry picture of a life.