But Erik did exactly the same thing when he read it the next week. He’d run into the room, call for attention and eagerly share the study or quote he’d just read.
If you have children, or friends, or siblings or co-workers or know any people at all, you need to read this book. I guess that excludes everyone except the most extreme hermit, who probably needs the book most of all.
We are a houseful of introverts– each of us to varying degrees and with our own comfort zones– we love to read, enjoy time alone and crave weekends at home. Certainly, I’m on the louder, “let’s have a party” end of the spectrum. I love making friends and generally have trouble keeping up with the people in my life whom I adore, but I’ll choose a book over a pro-basketball game any day. In fact, I never really understood why people enjoyed going to sporting events in those huge arenas and stadiums until I read ‘Quiet’ (I kinda just thought most of the world was crazy); now I understand crowd energy invigorates some people while I recharge best with my family or alone (still, I adore Temple Square during General Conference and the teeming energy of New York City).
In truth, I love any book acknowledging we are all different, one-size-does-not-fit-all, my way isn’t your way. ‘Quiet’ emphasizes no one is a pure extrovert or introvert, we all have a bit of each and every personality is unique. Different stages in our life reveal varied parts of our personality. The past few years I’ve been more introverted as I’ve tried to heal from personal pain, but in the past I often invited a new family over every Sunday for dinner.
My favorite, favorite section of the book describes ‘orchid children’– “this theory holds that many children are like dandelions, able to thrive in just about any environment. But others, including the high-reactive types…are more like orchids: they wilt easily, but under the right conditions can grow strong and magnificent.”
Ah! That one paragraph explains all my parenting! Every one of my children screamed their way through their first two years of life– they didn’t like the car, the stroller, new foods, people. I watched in awe as other babies actually lay contentedly in their carseats at church cooing at strangers. Mine were either on my lap, at my feet or screaming. Sleeping strategies never worked on any of them and no buckle thwarted their ability to escape a stroller or car seat. But as they grew, they became happy, charming (brilliant) toddlers, so I counted the turmoil of the early years as a pretty good trade-off.
High reactive kids respond strongly to all kinds of stimulation, often leading to the term ‘oversensitive.’ And while this might sound negative, it also means they think and feel deeply, notice beauty, feel guilt for wrong doing, are extraordinarily creative, cultivate true empathy for others and form lasting relationships.
“Scientists have known for a while high-reactive temperaments come with risk factors. These kids are especially vulnerable to challenges like marital tension, a parent’s death or abuse. They are more likely than their peers to react to these events with depression, anxiety, and shyness.”
Even more than my children, the above paragraphs describe me. I bruise like a ripe peach, my heart is wounded easily. I’ve always felt like I need to hide, to fit in, but I’m learning my sensitivity is the very best of me: I see beauty everywhere and God’s hand in every moment. When you tell me your hurts, I feel them. Others may comfort, but I will mourn with you. And my fragile heart, which has always felt like a handicap, has increased my abilities to mother my six (and I was the girl who never wanted children).
“What scientists haven’t realized until recently is that these risk factors have an upside. In other words, these sensitivities and strengths are a package deal. High-reactive kids who enjoy good parenting, child care and a stable home environment tend to have fewer emotional problems and more social skills than their low-reactive peers.”
Those words help explain why parenting challenges and styles are so varied; what works for me, won’t necessarily work at your house. And forgive me if I’ve seemed a little smug about raising teenagers– yes, introverts have their own struggles, but they are more malleable than kids who are strongly influenced by external sources.
I’ve taken a more serious turn than I intended at the beginning, but Quiet validates everything I’ve felt about parenting my children– everything matters, my actions count for good and bad more than most. Don’t let me frighten you off with my soul searching (and c’mon, you know I’m not collecting a penny from this recommendation), it’s a book celebrating all personality types and the strengths we can lend each other. I guarantee you’ll learn something about your loved ones and yourself.
Fittingly, I’m writing this alone while Erik treats the four youngest to “Brave.” I love to be with them, the movie looks intriguing, but more than anything right now, I’m craving quiet.