Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Friend and unfriend

Over the weekend, Cady Gray and I made these woven friendship bracelets out of strips cut from t-shirt scraps. She wanted to make three: one for her school friend Charlotte, one for her friend from preschool Tori, and one for a new friend she had just made at her summer camp.

On Tuesday, she took the bracelet to camp to give to that friend. That evening I asked her if she had bestowed the gift. Yes, she said, but the friend didn't want it and gave it to another girl.

Cady Gray was mostly philosophical about it, although I could tell that it confused her. I found it piercingly sad. A little girl, a handmade gift, a pledge of friendship -- refused, discarded, regifted.

Watching my daughter navigate the rapids of childhood relationships fascinates and terrifies me. The earlier friends I can remember that were of my own choosing, rather than the children of my parents' friends, came at a later age, maybe Archer's age of 8 or 9. There were kids whose friend I wanted to be who may not have been as keen on reciprocating. I'm not sure I had the capacity at her age to make such a personal gesture -- a friendship bracelet that I made and whose recipient I selected. It touches me to see Cady Gray light up when her peers want to spend time with her. And it hurts me on her behalf when these novice friends treat her affection cavalierly.

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