My Wish for Colin: After the Hoopla, May Real Friendships Emerge

This morning as I packed lunch boxes for my soon to be 8- and 10-year olds, I saw a promo spot on Good Morning America for birthday boy Colin from the “Colin is Eleven” Facebook page.

If you missed the spot or aren’t familiar with the Facebook page, the story is inspiring: Colin, a sweet young boy about to turn 11, was asked by his mom if he wanted a birthday party. His heartbreaking response? “Who would I invite? I have no friends.”  Recently diagnosed with a sensory disorder similar to Asperger’s Syndrome, Colin has difficulty understanding social cues and as such, making friends.  His mom turned to Facebook and set up a page with the hopes that friends would wish him happy birthday and he would feel loved and appreciated.

The page went viral. It currently has over two million “Likes” and responses, written and videotaped, have been pouring in from all over the world – and his mom managed to keep all of it a secret until this morning, when GMA revealed the big surprise, complete with a t-shirt that read “I went viral” on my birthday, a trip to Disney World, a huge cake and a marching band.

I’ll admit it, I was one of those likes, and I had tears in my eyes at the end of the segment. Anyone who has ever had a child can relate to this moment – heck, anyone who can remember back to being eleven (and how mean kids could be) can appreciate how this outpouring of acceptance and love must feel.

I’m proud of his momma for reaching out in the way she has. I’m thrilled for him that the response has been SO huge – proof that people are kind, people are giving and he is feeling loved.

But it is easy to send a card, or click “Like” on a Facebook page.

The true test will be in the days to come, when the hoopla dies down, and life returns to normal. I want him to discover a new “normal”.

So for Colin’s real birthday gift, I wish him this:

  • That his classmates gain a better understanding of his condition and its effect on him, and reach out to him in true friendship, beyond the celebrity that he is currently experiencing.
  • That, through the media’s portrayal of him, his classmates also discover his true nature: that of a silly, kind and loving eleven year old boy.
  • Positive, kind attention from all that he interacts with in his daily life.

And my greatest wish for him is that, after the hoopla has ended, and he settles back into day-to-day routine, that he continues to feel as welcomed and appreciated as he does today.

And that on his twelfth birthday, well, that it be like that of every other twelve-year-old – a birthday party shared with good friends. Now that would be a true blessing.

Happy Birthday, Colin. I hope you enjoy every second of it.

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