I was in third or fourth grade when friendship bracelets became really important.
I cannot remember the friendship bracelet economy – Did we trade them? Or were they were strictly gifts? – but I remember the urgency, on one night in particular, to have one.
“Everyone has a friendship bracelet.”
“I need a friendship bracelet.”
“How am I going to get a friendship bracelet?”
Maybe I had promised to give one away. Maybe I just wanted to be seen wearing one. Or maybe I had told someone I had dozens of friendship bracelets. At home. That I had never brought to school before (because they were so special?). Anyway, it was important, and I went to sleep that night pretty sure that the whole thing was just about hopeless.
We didn’t have the stuff you need to make friendship bracelets. We didn’t even know what that stuff was, first of all. And if we had it, we wouldn’t have known what to do with it My mom – and I don’t think she would mind me saying this – isn’t super crafty. Also, her left-handedness tended to make the braiding arts a challenge.
She’s creative, definitely. Just not in a way that leans toward hot-glue and puffy-paint.
She often left for work before the rest of us were awake. My brothers and I would come downstairs to find our breakfasts in the fridge and our lunches on the kitchen table.
The morning after my macrame meltdown, there was a friendship bracelet on top of my lunch bag. No note, no explanation. Just the bracelet, a skinny braid made out of sewing thread. It wasn’t quite right – you don’t make friendship bracelets out of sewing thread. I knew that much.
But even then, I understood the bracelet as a work of love.
Can you imagine sitting at the kitchen table at 4 or 5 a.m., trying to braid strands of thread? In the middle of packing lunches and getting dressed and everything else that has to happen in a morning?
I got it.
I cared about something. A lot. And that meant she cared about it too.
My mom is an expert at knowing when a silly little thing is actually a great big deal. And, looking back, I think that’s a lot of what it takes. That’s what saves the day.