My Children Are My Mirror: Am I Being Present?

More than many others I know, Hosanna (my daughter) can tell when I’m engaged, and she can tell when my mind is elsewhere. She can see when I’m sitting near her, lost in my own thoughts, and when I’m being present to her, appreciating who she is and involving myself in what she is doing. How can I tell? 1) She becomes demanding. Sometimes it means that she becomes more vocal, even whiny, telling me what to do. “Daddy play with you [me],” she says in a slightly squeaky voice. “You want me to play with you?” “Okay!” All she wants is my presence, my engagement, and she can tell that I need a little coaxing. There are other strategies she employs as well. 2) She becomes fussy. My lack of presence isn’t always the cause, but it’s related more than I would like to admit. 3) She adapts by moving into her own world. Sometimes she just wants to play by herself and does so with enthusiasm. In other times, she is much quieter after moving through steps 1 and 2 and goes and finds one of her favorite books. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with free play, but I can tell when it carries a hint of resignation. More than anything, I want to love my kids in a present, engaging way. I want them to know and experience deeply that they are loved by their dad. At least in my moments of preoccupation, God has provided me with a mirror to help me see.