“That kid” in every classroom: dealing with deviance or difference?

Manishka Gunasekara
5 min readMay 22, 2020
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Once upon a generation, when the word “naughty” was allowed on children, there lived two mischievous little girls who behaved very badly. They went to an all-girls school and disrupted almost every class; they talked incessantly during morning prayers, and even invented a hand signal code only they could understand, outdoing the teachers; they were class-clowns — real practical jokers. What a laugh!

Soon there were whispers about the “problem children”. They were sent to counselors for breaking school rules. The “nice” lady made them draw pictures — this made them laugh even harder. How stupid! Perhaps no one, but a few, knew of their “family problems.” The Christianity teacher probably prayed for them a lot…

Both were quite clever but one was exceptional.

One was very curious and better at sports — she got good, but not fantastic, grades.The exceptional one — a contradiction — was a ruffian that won prizes; she aced one paper and failed the next; she was brilliant –when she felt like it.

A decade and a half later you will find both of them working with children, coaching and healing — who would have imagined?

The exceptional one, a doctor, works in a children’s ward, and the curious one is a teacher, also training to be a counsellor so that“problem children” can draw “stupid pictures.”

If you’re a parent of (let’s just say it) a difficult child, you may be comforted to know children who exhibit problematic behavior can make it in life, and that a school-defined deviance is not permanent, nor detrimental to social success. You might think, “I mean one turned out to be a doctor- amazing! The teacher…well, at least she’s on a payroll.”

Yes, that is true — half true, because I didn’t tell you the middle part, the part about how much they each had to go through to get to social homeostasis, or the number of life-lessons they had to learn. More importantly, how much inner-work had to be done to unlearn the negative patterns and relearn the discipline they never had as children.

True enough, the two little rascals managed to weasel their way and find their purpose in life, but it was grueling self-journey to get…