It was the day after Halloween when my classes read David Sedaris’s narrative essay “Us and Them.”
You know how when you’re young, everyone else seems weird because they do things differently than your family? Before the students started the story, I proposed the question written by the textbook company:
What is normal?
My seniors talked within table groups and then shared out with the whole class. Several people said something along the lines of “Being normal means not being weird.” Often in school settings, when one student has an opinion, others will jump on the bandwagon rather than form their own.
I can’t stop thinking about the girl who said:
“There’s no such thing as normal because everyone is different. So being different is normal.
Sedaris’s third-grade self spies on his neighbors, the Tomkeys, and he passes juvenile judgement on their lives. The Tomkeys don’t watch TV. They talk during meals. They even slap their knees laughing at each other. They trick-or-treat in homemade costumes. On the wrong day. The day after Halloween.
At the insistence of his mother and with dramatized reluctance, Sedaris must give away his own, hard-earned Halloween candy. Along the way, he pokes fun at himself for being human, judgmental and greedy.
And I’m still thinking about what it means to be normal.