Tomorrow you officially start school. Though it's just 9 short hours out of the entire week, I know this is the beginning of your true independence. The beginning of influence by people other than me and your dad, especially your peers. The beginning of me letting go and letting you make your own decisions and find your own way in life.
Today we sat together, just me and you, working on a puzzle - one of your favorite activities. You can almost see the comprehension on your face as you concentrate on figuring out where each piece joins with another as the picture starts to emerge.
Do you know how much people are like puzzle pieces, Connor? Everyone has a different shape. A different color, a different appearance.
But we all fit together in the big picture. We can all come together to make something complete, to make something beautiful.
Everyone has their own place.
Some fit in the middle, with bright colors and others on all sides of them. And some are outsiders, joining together with just a couple of other pieces on the edge of the picture. But we still need those so-called outsiders, you see, to make the puzzle work. There is a place for everyone, for every piece, in this big world.
You will spend a lot of time trying to find your place in the puzzle. With each activity that you participate in, each interest you pursue, each subject that you study, each friend that you make, you will be creating your own path, seeking your place in the puzzle.
Just remember, Connor, that everyone else is trying to find their own place in the puzzle too. Some won't fit into certain parts of the picture that you will, and you won't fit into certain parts that others will. And that's OK. There is a place for everyone, and everyone is important in building the puzzle.
Be proud of who you are, what you look like, what you like and all of the important things you have to offer the world. And help others be proud of these things too, by accepting both their similarities and differences. If someone doesn't fit next to you on the puzzle, that doesn't mean they don't belong - everyone will make an important impact on the big picture. So tomorrow, as you leave our house to make new friends and learn new things, I pray that you will always treat others with kindness. That you will try to include instead of exclude. And that you will always listen to your heart when it tells you what the right thing to do is.