White Trash in a Mink Coat/Blog By: Patty Collins-King
He Left For College On A High Note March 13, 2018
Today is a VERY exciting day! I have my first guest Blogger Anne Hill, and I am so excited for you all to read a piece of her story! If you would like to be a guest blogger, I would LOVE to have you, so please reach out to me! 😉
When Patty graciously asked me to be a guest on her blog, I sat down and immediately wrote a piece about people I admire (Patty being one of them) who choose to be kind, positive and giving despite having survived great loss, personal health challenges or the like. But then I found some Post-it notes behind the door of my youngest son’s room. He is a freshman in college, thousands of miles away, but at that moment he was in that room with me, smack dab in the middle of my heart.
Life hasn’t been easy for him. He has Albinism so he looks different. He’s been pointed at, stared at, laughed at, whispered at, and bullied. Worst of all, he was pushed into a urinal at school by five kids who claimed to be his friends. Those are just the ones I know about. When he was a baby I made a choice that I would smile at every single person who pointed at, stared at, laughed at or whispered at my boy. I’ll admit, sometimes it was a fake smile, but a smile nonetheless. Sometimes it gave people silent permission to ask questions, which gave me an opportunity to inform otherwise uninformed folks. Sometimes I would see the whispers stop and I’d get a smile back. Sometimes it was just me smiling and squeezing his little hand in mine a little bit harder — a love squeeze.
I’d like to share, in his words, what choosing positivity and kindness looks like. He wrote this a year ago and I couldn’t be more proud. “My name is Nick and I’m seventeen. I’m passionate about rock climbing, running, hiking and camping. I’m thiiiiis close to being an Eagle Scout. I also love working with kids! My part time job coaching the junior rock climbing team and working at a climbing gym gives me plenty of opportunities to do just that. In the summer I am a trail running counselor at a day camp which I love. I was diagnosed with Oculotaneous albinism when I was two months old. Affected individuals tend to have very fair skin and white hair. Oculotaneous albinism also reduces pigmentation of the iris and the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. For me this causes low vision, nystagmus (rapid, involuntary eye movements), and sensitivity to light. Since I spend as much time as possible outside, I wear 20 SPF sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and I’m good to go. One thing I’d like folks to know is that some people make the innocent mistake by calling me “albino.” I’m Nick, but I have albinism. Having albinism hasn’t defined me. Have I experienced stares, whispers and teasing because I look different? Totally. Has it hurt? For sure. I tried to be defensive, but that didn’t make me happy. I made the decision that I would always choose kindness, especially toward those people. I go out of my way to talk to them to show them I’m just as much as a human as they are. I’d smile and ask how they were – everyone loves to hear that. If it was met with rudeness, that’s fine. At least I tried. I’d like to think they went home that night and thought, “Man, why was I so rude to Nick? He’s such a nice dude.” I like to think because I have low vision, I see people with less judgment. I’d like to think I’d be that way anyway, but it’s definitely made it easier. It feels terrible to be judged, and I want to do my part in taking that part out of life. Showing people you care despite their inability to do the same is a learning experience for them. You can always be teaching someone something.”
The notes on the back of his door were a gift. As his mom, knowing that he has tools he uses to be kind, positive and giving despite having a difficult road at times, made me exhale a breath I didn’t know I was holding. I miss having his energy in this house every day. When we dropped him off this fall, he asked for some Post-it notes. I knew he used them to remind himself of important dates, tests or appointments. I hope he is using them like he did on the back of his door. Thinking about that makes my heart melt and tears run down my face — love tears.
How beautiful was this? And are you crying happy tears? Thank you, thank you, thank you Anne! And readers, please let me know what you think!
Dream Big, Smile Often,
Love, Patty 🙂