Now, my primary main character knows this. Her whole family is crazier than mine could ever aspire to be. Her family in general can’t even compete with the teen who lived with us for a while who seemed to have multiple personalities — in a knife-wielding, lying, unhinged sort of way.

One of the fun things about working in a detention facility with a lot of ESE (exceptional education) students is that you get to see a variety of crazy (with a variety of causes) at work. It breaks up the monotony of the proverbial 9-5.

I just have to remember the golden rule of not trying to fight crazy with sane. You can’t “reason” a crazy person sane. You can’t talk anyone off a ledge with anything other than a different kind of crazy. Either it’s an amusing kind of crazy that’s distracting while you point out how high up you are, that they forgot to put on pants, that it’s cold in Antarctica, that lima beans taste like dried-up paste…whatever, or it’s a one-up nuttery such as exhibited in the first Lethal Weapon, you have to fight crazy with crazy.

My co-workers should know this. Especially the ones who work with the emotionally-disturbed kids. Especially the one who works with the girls. Instead one complains that her foster kid’s former guardian thinks karate classes after school will teach the kid to “become a killer.” The person who works with the girls — girls, crazier-than-all-the-boys girls — is all upset because one of her charges wrote a story about being gang raped.

The first person obviously forgot the golden rule. Instead of telling the nutcase how she was training him up to be a secret government weapon who could turn invisible and conjure frogs for dinner, she tried reasoning.

The second got upset before vetting the story. The girls are prone to wild tales. I’m not saying that sort of thing doesn’t happen. I’m not saying that sort of thing isn’t often the root of their other problems. I’m just saying that I’ve also met a few who used their crazy to try to bring others into their land. One kid’s uncle thinks she’s “dead sexy” during math. Another one “does it” with old men while watching cartoons. There are root issues, yes, but we have a whole other department charged with figuring out which parts are true and which parts are leftover Oprah episodes. In this case, fight crazy with subject matter or lunacy, but not crying or reason. Even if it is true, they don’t want reason or they wouldn’t be telling you. They want to see your shocked, suburban face.