Dear quiet son, you know we are a loud family. We talk loudly, we laugh big, and we play music often. There are the sounds of random outdoor toys – a soccer ball or a Nerf frisbee – bouncing or flying their way through our living room on occasion. Neighbors are stopping by the house with random visits. Children are running around, and the dog is excitedly barking in all the chaos. There are sounds, voices, and lots of opinions everywhere.
Most of us in our family are loud. But you, my sweet, quiet son, are an observer. You are an absorber.
You carry a gentle presence. It always carries a little bit of mystery. I don’t always know what you are thinking. I can’t always interpret your emotions. It’s okay, though. In a world that loves to share opinions, you’ve chosen to keep some to yourself. Besides, the ideas you want to express, you share as you wish.
You are perceptive. If someone needs space, you give it to them. If one of us needs to talk, you listen. If your friend is struggling, you respond in matter-of-fact texts, acknowledging the situation without stirring the drama. Sometimes, it seems your friends seem to seek you out for support. People gravitate toward you when they want an honest response. When I ask you what you think of something, I know I’m given an answer that is trustworthy and true.
You are perceptive about yourself as well. You don’t commit to things you can’t follow through on. You don’t make promises that are unlikely to be kept. You show up when you say you will. You complete what you start if it’s worth completing. You let go of tasks that aren’t worth the effort.
I’m often curious how you view things. I seek out your thoughts. When people are debating an idea, I try to see if I can read your take on the conversation. Your face might show your true thoughts. Your eyes might hint at your opinion. Later, I’ll ask you what you were thinking. Your response always makes me smile because it’s well-thought-out and wise.
When I sit down to watch a movie with you, I can’t wait to hear your insight when the show ends. “It was an epic journey,” you said at the end of the Lord of the Rings series. There was no more you needed to say. That was enough.
When I try to crack a joke, I’ll admit that I glance your way to see your reaction. If my words make you crack a sly, slight smile, I know the joke hit home. This is how I feel about many things I tell you: there is a conciseness in conversation and humor that you appreciate, and it reminds me that, at times, sparseness has its place.
You are the one to make sense of our sometimes nonsensical chatter. We might be having a friendly argument over an issue, and then, out of the blue, you make a clever comment that concludes the conversation – and clarifies it all.
I will be honest. I used to worry that you would not speak up for yourself. I used to be concerned that you would not advocate for your thoughts. I used to fear that people around you wouldn’t hear your voice if you didn’t raise your hand high enough in the air. I used to think a louder voice would be more valued and heard.
I was so wrong. I underestimated that one can speak one’s mind with unassuming grace and that when you choose to get your point across, you know exactly how to do it. I’ve learned that a person who speaks carefully can be appreciated in a different way than one who speaks often.
I think about the adult you will be soon. I know you will do great things. You are part of a unique group of people who impact the world in positive ways with humble yet powerful strength.
The world can be a loud place. Yet you will be someone who watches the flurry – the bustle – and will take one step forward to uncomplicate the noise.
You will be that person who listens to all of the other ideas in the room and then – when the voices are subsiding – will make a decision that everyone will agree on.
You will not fight to be in the center of the crowd; as you will be seen and heard anyway. Others will learn quickly that when you speak, it is worth their time to listen to what you have to say.
Dear quiet son, thank you for reminding us that the world can spin and feel still at the same time. Thank you for reminding us that an assured, soft voice can make the rest of us lean in. Thank you for teaching us that listening is a choice: an act of effort, patience, and kindness.
I will not remind you anymore that your voice has power. You’ve heard me say that for years. I didn’t need to keep saying it. You knew that all along.
You have already proven that quiet does not mean complacent. You have already shown that your words – your ideas – will have a significant influence. You have already convinced us of your capability. I sit back and watch- in awe of you.
I can’t wait to see who you become. I can’t wait for the rest of the world to experience all your strengths as you grow even more into the incredible young man you are.