Okay, so I saw the Happy Birthday Colin page your mom started (go check it out here if you haven’t seen it) and let me start by saying that your mom is totally awesome. AWESOME! She really put all of her feelings out there for everyone to see by creating that amazing Facebook page for you. And I think it totally kicks ass that everyone is liking the hell out of that page and sending you letters and birthday cards and totally getting behind you.
But here’s the thing. I also know that’s not what really matters. Because virtual kids from around the world and letters from far away places aren’t going to sit next to you at lunch and keep your company. They’re not gonna be there for you when you get hit in dodge ball or need a partner in science class. Because as awesome as the virtual world can be, it’s also something else. It’s virtual.
Merriam-Webster defines virtual as “very close to being something without actually being it.” Which basically means all those avatars and likes aren’t really real. They’re kinda real, but not really.
Do all the people who liked the Happy Birthday Colin page like you? Sure, virtually. But do they really know you? Nope. Am I happy people from all over the world are writing you notes of support? Hells yeah! The self-confidence it’s giving you is so amazing and probably so necessary since it sounds like you’ve been pushed to the side in your school like a pile of dust swept under the rug. At least when it comes to the lunch situation.
But here’s what I’m saying. We all have Colins in our lives. Maybe they’re sitting alone in the school office eating lunch. Or maybe they are the new kid who just moved in down the street. Or maybe they don’t have a home at all and they smell a little funny and they’re riding in your subway car. Or maybe they’re the mom who’s sitting alone in the waiting area wishing just once she were a part of the conversation the other moms are having. There are Colins everywhere we look.
Colin, I hope that within that giant stack of letters are some letters from the REAL people you see every day. I hope that some of the messages you get aren’t from avatars, but are from the kids in your class who realize you are an awesome kid with real feelings and real qualities that are worth getting to know. And that tolerating your presence at the lunch table isn’t tolerating at all; it’s actually enjoyable. Especially when you crack that awesomely amazing smile.
And I hope that every single person who liked your mom’s page looks around and finds the Colins in their own lives, so they can actually talk to them and be kind to them and not just ignore them because it's easier. I clicked like. I clicked like and then I went back to my newsfeed to look at other stuff. I’m guilty of it. But then about a week later I thought about it more. If I liked Colin’s page, is there someone I know who’s like Colin? Someone I can give a message to? Like a real message. Not a virtual one.
Yes, there is. And I'm gonna make sure I do it. For all the Colins I meet from now on.
Anyway, I wish you the happiest birthday EVER Colin. If things have gotten better after your mom’s amazing page, that’s awesome. And if not, please try to keep smiling that big amazing smile. One day more people will start smiling back.
A mom who hopes that she’s half as good as your mom is
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