The crazy thing about crazy things is that they cease to be crazy once you grow accustomed to them. It is a principle that is relevant in many areas of life: familiarity breeds numbness. Simply put, the more we experience something, the quicker we grow used to it. What we see, what we hear, what we smell, what we taste, what we touch—all lose their appeal or vividness to a certain extent if we consistently engage them.
There are some things that I never want to grow numb to: the warm feel of a sunrise on my face, the sound of my wife’s laughter, the comfort of a soft bed, mint chocolate chip ice cream. The details of the world are beautiful and unique and exquisite. I never want to take them for granted. But it’s easy to lose sight of that sometimes, isn’t it?
Since becoming the teacher of an alternative class, there are certain things that I have caught myself growing numb to. Most notably, the craziness that comes with each passing day. When I experienced some of the behaviors for the first time—ADHD, ODD, OHI, Bipolar, Schizophrenia—they opened my eyes to a new reality. However, each of these behaviors are so prevalent in our daily routine that I am rarely surprised by them anymore.
And this is where things get swapped around. In our classroom, crazy has become the new “normal,” so the only time that things genuinely seem crazy is when the kids act…well, normal. If that makes sense?
This past Friday, I had the opportunity to take our kids on a field trip to the Titanic museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Our principal had some extra funds in the school budget, so she offered to send our class on the excursion. I would be lying if I said it didn’t slightly concern me. After all, it would be the first time that I would get to take our class off of the school’s campus. At times, our kids have struggled even walking down the hall without getting into trouble, so I thought that a full day away from the school held a lot of potential for mishaps, breakdowns, and disasters.
But I was wrong, and in the best way.
The trip was great. Excellent, actually. Our students were well behaved, conducted themselves maturely, participated in the museum’s activities, respected each other, maintained a calm demeanor, and actually enjoyed an academic environment. There was no arguing, threatening, screaming, pushing, cursing, lying, or defying. They were…normal. And in a classroom where you are accustomed to outbreaks of absurdity, normal behavior catches you off guard. Their normality was crazy. I was so proud of them.
On the drive home, each one of the students passed out sleeping. The only sounds were the radio playing softly and the hum of the van’s engine. As I basked in the rare silence, I started thinking about what the day had taught me. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw heads leaned against seats and faces plastered against windows. For that short time, in those few still moments, my kids had changed. They were innocent, and humble, and safe, and kind. They were younger versions of themselves—the versions that were barely learning how to walk, saying their first words, and smiling about everything. They were the versions that existed before they allowed themselves to be swept up by the negative influences of the world. And it reminded me that below the attitudes and behaviors and handcuffs, they are still kids longing to be loved and adored. It reminded me that there is good in them. It reminded me that they can choose to do what is right.
It reminded me that no one is beyond hope because our hope is not beyond Christ.
I looked at them and smiled, aware that I might never experience a moment like that again. It was special. It was normal. It was crazy.