Michael is quiet around the other boys, mostly because he's younger and doesn't fit in as well. I left Dee, Tommy and Ryan in the living room to wash a few dishes in the kitchen, and Michael followed me in with his headphones firmly planted in his ears. He pulled one earbud out and sat at the table, silently staring at his mp3 player as I hummed at the sink.
Michael is the kind of kid who won't say anything for an hour and then come out with a sharp comment that just throws me into fits of laughter, especially when no one else hears it. I asked him a few questions, got shrugs or monosyllabic answers. Without really noticing, I launched into a detailed monologue on everything I like about Michael. After my fifth or sixth point, I glanced over and realized he wasn't even listening to me! I grinned over my shoulder at him and squealed, "HEY! You aren't even hearing a word I'm saying!"
He smiled his smirky little grin that I love so much and said quietly, "Yes I am!"
I don't think these kids hear often enough how much they're worth. I know that sounds obvious and cliche, but people (myself included) tend to forget that words are really powerful; that they sink into places we don't expect them to, and that they have a strong tendency to fulfill themselves. I am truly learning to believe that light and dark can be spoken into being, that the line between "good" and "bad" is sometimes as thin as a well-timed sentence.