There’s always that one kid you know. The one every mind jumps to when anyone mentions anything strange or out of the ordinary that happened that day.
For the purpose of this story, I’ll call him Jack. Jack was small, moody, and hyperactive. He was also smart as a whip, but his grades didn’t always reflect that. This was because of his Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. It wasn’t a secret. We all knew about it. He talked about it all the time! “No, it’s not ADD; it’s ADHD!” The “H” was critical.
Jack was not about to have anyone thinking he only had Attention Deficit Disorder. Everyone had to know he was hyperactive, as well. He was proud of it. I’d like to say I tried to be patient with him. Although he scared me sometimes, I did try to sympathize and carry on conversation, but even my minimal efforts were futile the days he failed to take his medication.
One day, however, Jack and I were not having a good day. I was attempting to stop him from harassing random passers-by, but he wouldn’t budge. According to him, the great honor of walking past the mighty Jack was something they (and I) should be grateful for. I may have been in an aggravated mood that day, but I’m almost positive he was being especially hyper, too. Finally, I grabbed him by the shoulders, swung him around to face me nose to nose, and said, “Jack! Calm down!”
He stared at me for a couple seconds and opened his mouth to respond, but I cut him off. “I mean, jeez! What would you do if everyone else acted like you?!” I expected him to concoct a grand scheme about how great it would be in a world full of Jack clones and how he would build up an army to colonize Mars, but he surprised me.
Without missing a beat, he replied, “Well, then I’d have to act differently.”
This was the last thing in the world I expected him to say. I was stunned speechless. I stared at him for a while before simply walking away, dazed and in awe. I turned back, and he had already resumed terrorizing the strangers. Later that day, I sat thinking about what he said and realized how wise he truly was, despite his outward behavior. At such a young age, Jack already understood and accepted a great truth that many adults have difficulty grasping. He knew what it meant to be an individual and valued his ability to be unique.
In times of self-doubt when I wish I had the same clothes as my friends or other trivial accessories, I remember how happy Jack was being unlike the rest of society around him, and I try to live up to his standard. I once briefly mentioned the impact he had on me that day, years later, and he replied, “…I said that?” The moment was hardly remembered and long forgotten in that one kid’s peculiar mind.
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