Sometimes I’m watching my kids and I marvel at how easy some things have become for me.
There are skills that, as I watch their hands struggle with which way to go, I’m suddenly back in their shoes remembering how hard those tasks were to me one time. Things like clearing a plate from the table with a fork balancing on top of it or successfully pulling on two laces and having them end up in a bow instead of a knot. Things like how to have just one of my two hands let go to reach for the next monkey bar or (on most days) getting the correct amount of toothpaste on my toothbrush on the first try or having my head naturally go through the head hole of a shirt without panicking that I’m trapped forever inside the garment.
Then there is stuff that I haven’t been practicing or been exposed to regularly, stuff that baffled me as a kid, but a few decades later I’ve magically mastered. Like double dutch jump rope (at least for a few successful jumps), using more logic than luck to play Mastermind, determining whether the quiz in the girl magazine will label me as a nerd, popular girl, jock or class clown from answering just one of the eighteen question multiple choice answers, thinking a birthday party magician is remotely magic, and making friendship bracelets.
Oh, sure, I went to summer camp, I could make them. I could bang out the 5-string finger weaving ones in a few minutes or some fancy braiding. But the real ones, if I actually finished more than an inch or so of one, might take weeks. And there would likely be holes.
My 8 year old had an interest in learning to make friendship bracelets this summer, partially from a book she had read, and I had someone worthy of making one for, so we dug out the embroidery floss and clipboards and brought them into the backyard while the younger kids played and we began to tie knots. I had some restarts and my girl had tears of frustration and holes. But I could stick with it and I finished a ten stringer within a day. I made one for a beloved friend and one for my daughter who, if she takes after me, may have to wait a few decades before she nails it herself.
And by the way, if you want to learn to make friendship bracelets, don’t make the mistaking of taking the advice of Cara the Summer Camp Fairy, you’ll need more than wrist to elbow length of string to make a bracelet long enough to fit around a wrist.