I'm the mom of a quiet kid. She's the girl in class who knows the answers but rarely raises her hand. She'll talk with you if you talk to her, but she's not likely to speak up much otherwise. It takes work to get to know her, but she's a treasure to know when you do.
Some events in our lives in the past few days has me thinking about the quiet kids. These are the kids who when you go to their parent-teacher conferences in middle school and high school, you can clearly see some of the teachers trying to figure out which kid you're talking about. These are the kids who are well-behaved and never seem to have a bad day.
It's not that they don't have bad days. It's just that they don't want to be the center of attention. They shy away from the spotlight and don't volunteer to share their joys and troubles with everyone.
And the reality is that these are the kids that can be overlooked. They aren't outgoing and attention-grabbing. They aren't trouble makers. They are adept at hiding their feelings and blending into the background.
The quiet kids actually bring a lot to the table. They listen more than they speak, which means when they do speak, they usually have something important to say. They observe more than they interact, which means they often have a keen understanding of human nature. When you do get to know them, when you make the effort to get past that exterior reserve, you can find that they have plenty to say, that they have a great sense of humor and that they are willing to share the deepest parts of their soul with you. But it takes effort.
Too often, adults and other kids aren't willing to put in that effort. The quiet kids can get shunted aside and overlooked as adults give their attention to the gregarious ones and the trouble-making ones.
The reality is, though, that these quiet kids need your attention. They need you to spend time getting past the surface and really getting to know them. They need your interest, your love and your attention.
God created these quiet kids because the world needs people who listen and observe. He knew we needed the quiet thinkers to help solve problems created by those of us who jump without looking.
But our society values the outgoing, life-of-the-party personality. That makes it easy to miss the quiet kids. It makes it easy to not notice when they're having a tough time. It makes it easy to assume that they don't have problems.
Today, look around, see if there are any quiet kids in your life. If there are, put in the time and effort to get to know them, to invest in them. Because those kids need your attention, your love, your understanding just as much as the attention-grabbing, outgoing kids. The truth is, they may need it more.