When I think about my daughter, a million adjectives come to mind. She is sweet and loving, kind and endearing, sympathetic and empathetic, and smart as hell. She is funny, inquisitive, curious, and brave. She is also loud. My daughter has no volume control. She never shuts up. And while some see this as a detriment — while some look at my little girl with annoyance and disdain — I am proud to have a talkative child, and I’m thankful I’m raising a “chatty Cathy” kid. Why? Because my house is never quiet, my life is never dull, and her constant chatter will help her. Having (and embracing) a voice will take her far.
Of course, I didn’t realize she was “different” until school started. I mean, she was always vocal. She began speaking at an early age, stringing words and thoughts together with ease. She asked questions constantly, like “why is the sky blue?” and “why are trees green?” And she made friends everywhere we went, from the park and playground to the grocery store. But I didn’t notice she was “exceptional” in this department until pre-K, when she was awarded the title of “most talkative” at the end of the school year. Not “most friendly” or “most likely to succeed” but “most talkative.” (Yes, really.)
Her award elicited laughs from some, particularly the teachers, parents, and peers who knew how she was. But I didn’t think her award was funny. It’s been three years, and I still don’t. Why? Because her voice emboldens her. It empowers her, and her inquisitive nature will help her, in school and life and in the big ol’ world beyond.
You see, girls are taught to be shy and quiet; coy and demure. Both history and popular media depict loudness as a detriment, particularly when it comes to women. Loud women are defiant. We also aren’t “good.” Falling in line means sitting with our arms folded and mouths closed. But talking doesn’t make a young girl or woman overbearing and overwhelming, and having a voice doesn’t make one bad. Rather, voices are powerful tools — ones which carry us far, especially as women.
Being expressive is important. It helps define your personality and adds character, coloring the person you are. Asking questions will help you better understand the world, and your place in it. Talkative kids tend to be talkative because they’re curious, and when they ask more questions, they (by default) get more answers. Plus, talking improves communication skills. There is no downside. There are negatives. Being chatty is not a “con.”
But that’s not all. Because my daughter is (very) vocal about her thoughts and feelings — about what is going through her little body and head — she is (and will be) better able to ask for help. She can communicate her wants and needs. Because my daughter is vocal, she will make friends more quickly; talking is both a behavioral and social skill. Because my daughter is vocal, she is very entertaining. From short quips about dance and her day to tales of dragons and unicorns, she is constantly telling stories. And because my daughter is vocal, she is very opinionated. She knows what she does and does not like — and this is huge asset. As a self-proclaimed people pleaser, I assure you this is a strength, one I wish I possessed more of myself.
Make no mistake: At times, her incessant talking is obnoxious, particularly during a movie or if we are watching a TV show. There are moments when I wish for silence, not only from her but in my home, and when she comes bursting into my room at 3:00am to tell me an elaborate story I want to scream. The “gift of gab” can (at times) be a curse. Plus, some people will inevitably find her off-putting and overwhelming. Because she is a chatterbox, she will not be everyone’s cup of tea.
But I pray my daughter stays bold and brazen. I pray she stays loud and proud, and I hope she keeps asking questions. May she always speak up and out and raise her hand. Because her thoughts aren’t a burden, her voice isn’t a bother, and her talkative nature isn’t a detriment; it is a strength. There is power in her words, and I never want her to feel like she has to be silent.