Did you make friendship bracelets growing up? I vividly remember learning to make friendship bracelets in fifth grade. These colorful thread creations became a steady companion and hobby for me for several months. Last summer my sister in law bought the supplies for friendship bracelets while our families were spending time together. My brother and his wife have four girls. We have four boys. I wasn’t sure how well friendship bracelets would go over with my crew. Our boys surprised me by how much they loved making these bracelets right alongside their girl cousins. Off and on throughout the summer, they would spend hours and hours forming patterns with embroidery thread.
We checked out a “How to Make Friendship Bracelets” book at the Bryan library and invited some friends over last week to learn this new skill. I feel like we’ve turned a corner, and though the end is still a little ways down the road, we can actually see that spot in the path where the lazy days of summer will come to an end, and we’ll meet the new year running. Once our kids are back in the groove of school, I thought these bracelets on their wrists would be a sweet reminder of summer. It’s always fun to see each person’s personality come out in a task like this one. The left brains are crazy careful and determined to fashion perfectly patterned, tight bracelets. They are one tiny step away from melting down while mastering this skill. The right brains throw caution to the wind, more interested in the possibility of coming up with a new idea or pattern than following the rules. Their bracelets end up less like bracelets and more like a wadded pile of thread – and yet they are still extremely proud of their work.
It took some time and several reminders that learning a new skill requires patience and determination. Once the kids finally got in the groove of how the pattern worked there was a lot less stress and angst in the air. I think they were all surprised to learn that making these bracelets was going to take a lot of time and hard work. This isn’t your typical, thrown together noodle craft. To get the results they wanted the kids had to concentrate and put forth a great deal of effort. They had to invest time. They had to really pay attention. This was not a project they could mindlessly throw together and feel pleased with the results. The process was downright grueling at times. They messed up. They felt the frustration and difficulty of going back and fixing their mistakes. There were moments when they had to make hard decisions. Do I go back, tear it down, and make it better or do I keep going, ignoring the knots that are tied the wrong way – the places I’ve botched this up. Is this a glitch I’m willing to live with, or will I always look down and notice it’s there? But the end result? That feeling of creating something beautiful and meaningful? Holding each thread in their hands, seeing the individual, fragile pieces come together to form something strong and lasting? In the end there was no question whether it had all been worth it.
And that’s why they call these friendship bracelets, I guess.