I’m quitting stickers, I decided today.
Done. Cold turkey. NOT A SINGLE ONE MORE. Adios, stickers.
From this day forward, I vow to make my household a sticker-free zone.
That includes fancy-schmancy fundraiser nametags that screw up my fake-satin shirt. That includes irrelevant product ads that cover up the front of my newspaper. That includes hanger-on-Frozen-Elsas attached to the bottom of my boot.
I should’ve learned from my mother.
It was 1989. She was standing in my brother’s newly-evacuated room with a Parkay margarine tub of hot water and a butter knife in hand. There my mom sweated and scraped the day away, trying in vain to remove the saucer-sized Captain America that had leeched onto the side of my brother’s old dresser hutch – like that birthmark on Gorbachev’s head when he tore down that wall. Perhaps it was easier to rid the western world of communism than remove that unsightly blotch.
And now here we are. Wait, where? How did we get here, here covered in goddamn stickers?
Stickers used to be SACRED. And don’t you dare forget it.
The 1980s was a glamorous era for stickers. They were shiny, puffy, sparkly and even smelled like delicious things. They were delicately harvested off the Friday spelling test. They were treasured and stuck in books like freshly-pressed pansies.
They were doled out infrequently and in few. A beloved Chiquita banana sticker was worth a boring trip to the grocery store. A sticker that smelled like bubble gum was worth a boring day at school. They were used as currency on playgrounds and in lunchrooms . . . and in federal prisons . . . or so I imagined.
But then something happened. Candy happened.
While stickers were living out their Golden Age, candy was living large on tawdry excess. We were bathing in candy, blowing our noses in it and then tossing it into the fireplace.
We had so much candy and we lost control. One day we were yukking it up on The Big Rock Candy Mountain. And then the next day, a Goonie binged to death on Baby Ruth bars. And then the President publicly hated on broccoli. And all of a sudden parents were all like, Whoa! Whoa! Whoooooaaaa!
Let’s just slow it down here with the sugar.
And then you saw that look. THAT LOOK. When you made eye contact with your sugar dealer, the bank’s drive-thru-teller-woman. And drive-thru-teller-woman was all like, Sorry, kiddo, but the tootsie roll train derailed. I’m just here giving out money now. And your doctor was all like, Sorry, kiddo, but you’re fat.
And that brings us pretty much up to speed on how we got here, here covered in goddamn stickers.
Enter stickers. The sugarless, limitless treat.
(1) They’re FDA-approved. (2) They’re easily digested. (3) They don’t cause diabetes.
But never mind the fact that they have been confirmed to cause rampant cases of Mild Maternal Insanity (MMI) in laboratory rats.
In the past 8 years since I’ve birthed three children, stickers have spread like genital warts across my home. And they won’t stop coming.
Stickers in birthday bags, stickers at doctors offices, stickers at museums, stickers at science fairs, stickers at school carnivals, stickers at school anything, stickers at stupidfuckingeverything.
And just when I think they’re over, a Candyland holiday hits and the virus flairs up again. Because we all want to be the modern day, health conscious parent who gives the calorie-free gift that keeps on sticking. All over hell and back.
Or a Trader Joe’s grocery clerk offers A TWO-FOOT STRIP to my kids for good behavior. (Next time I’m pleading that they tantrum and/or poop themselves.)
And here’s the thing: THEY DON’T GO AWAY. Stickers are like trash that adheres to everything and doesn’t get thrown away.
And it used to be my kids cared. THEY CARED ABOUT STICKERS! They are kids and they need to care about things, anything, something? But now they just don’t care.
Why would they?
Last Christmas they received 200 barnyard-themed stickers from their grandparents. (Why do you hate us, Melissa & Doug®?!) Stuck in a stocking nonetheless. NOT EVEN THE MAIN ATTRACTION. And they looked at it like Santa just pooped in there. They looked at it like, Meh. 200 more stickers. Okay, let’s add it to the heaping pile of 500,000 other stickers to burn for fuel for the giant rocket ship we’re building out of Legos.
And mostly, I’m just done. I have three kids, I’m tired and I don’t have time to scrape off another soul-sucking sticker — from my bathroom’s tiled floor, from the back of the carseat after the ride home from the dentist, from the tender area of skin between my ear and my temple.
And more importantly, we can do better!
We can stop giving kids useless stuff. How about that?
We can stop giving them candy – of course.
BUT WE CAN ALSO STOP GIVING THEM STICKERS.
Please? Can we? I beg of you.
My cat does, too.