I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing
every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!
Stickers are so annoying.
Is there a better example of a single use 'toy'?
If you accidentally place it in the wrong place, it is dang hard to move it to the better place - they basically can't be re-used. This can be very frustrating for young children.
They are ridiculously expensive, especially if you are trying to give a group of children a bunch of stickers. They are one of the least shareable items created for a group of kids - lots of frustrating negotiations over who gets the kitty? who gets the star? who gets the one with the purple on it? Have you ever witnessed a prized sticker get unexpectedly ripped in half by a preschooler's own lesser-skilled hands? Aside from the fine motor work of lifting it off the page (or the heavy-handed and, frequently, ridiculously obeyed expectation that the adult do this work for them), what is the learning of a sticker? I guess you learn a lot about how to mend your broken heart when things don't go your way.
I never understood their use as rewards. Nothing about stickers motivates me.
There is too much high drama over stickers.
That said, when I was teaching preschool, stickers seemed to fall from the sky sometimes, into my reaches. Sometimes families would drop off extras. Any time I attended an educational conference for early childhood, I seemed to reap streams of stickers in the conference 'goody' bag (because, I guess, every other teacher feels differently about stickers than I do). Some books come with sheets of stickers. Of course, organizations mail stickers - if only sheets of mailing labels, so that you will donate to their cause - and from a preschooler's perspective, these are stickers all the same. (Actually, so are postage stamps - kind of a funny story with the passage of time.) I recognize their allure, even if I don't share it, and I'd hold onto them, squirrel them away. If I acquired enough (an amount that wouldn't immediately result in a sharing bloodbath between 4-5 preschoolers at the writing center), I would add these as something special for the children to explore as they wrote and drew. Many children seemed to feel like me and just ignore them - yes, these were my favorite students. Ha! Just kidding. But, there were others who would sit and binge on them, covering their papers with sticker after sticker. To each, their own; whatever keeps you sane!
All of this is said as prelude: two-year-old Frog has discovered stickers. Since I am basically almost politically opposed to stickers (oh, politicians send stickers, too...), she caught me off-guard with her interest. (See the blather above.) I have created my home as my sanctuary and it was sticker-free.
Except Frog likes stickers.
She discovered a few sprawled onto an old Boy Scout Derby Car of her uncle's. We were playing in the basement, racing cars down the yellow track I've held onto for just this purpose - grandchildren and their play. She picked up the car and began to industriously use her fine motor skills to remove the Buzz Lightyear sticker; she recognized Buzz from her pull ups. To infinity and beyond!
|Where we play . . .|
I patiently (truly, patiently - none of the above bias was shared) explained that it was very hard to remove stickers, that they often break, they don't re-stick.
None of this matters to a two year old, only the task at hand matters: must remove sticker with edge of fingernail, right now, yes, yes, yes.
And yes, she frowned when this tiny ripped pile of sticker rot was the result.
She moved right on to the next sticker on the car, a star, I think, not that it really matters. She wrestled with this one, oblivious to my on-going advice (?) instructions (?) teaching (?) blather (?) yes, background noise. This isn't a precise recounting of my words, but they were something to the effect of - Frog, what do you think will happen to this one? What happened to the last one? Do you want all the stickers off the car? Did the sticker break? Why do you think they are breaking?
Finally, I came to my wits and stopped chattering and just observed.
All the stickers were finally removed and Frog went back to racing cars down the road, and that was that. She had completed the task she had set out to do, despite the noisy chatter of her Nana.
Fast-forward to her next visit . . . we're in the basement again, and she finds a second old Derby car, also with stickers - and she settles into her sticker removal work. I paused her, to remind her - Frog, what do you predict is going to happen to this sticker?
(Truly, I am mostly concerned that at some - unknown future date - she is going to erupt when the sticker breaks. I have lived through this high drama with preschoolers time and time again and it is my least favorite movie. Also, I was curious if her brain had retained the 'learning' from the last visit, the 'cause and effect' about stickers. Yes, once a teacher, always a teacher, and she is stuck with a Nana who was a preschool teacher.)
I paused her, to remind her - "Frog, what do you predict is going to happen when you remove this sticker?"
She looks up at me with big, serious eyes and says,
"You won't be happy."
Then she looks down at the floor, sadly - and stops removing the sticker.
I reacted quickly, "Oh no, honey! I don't care one whit about that!"
I have now introduced the concept of SHAME,
of NEEDING TO PLEASE.
So NOT the takeaway I imagined.
Oh my. Oh my. Oh my.
Stammering and sputtering was about all I could do for a moment, she caught me so off-guard. I was basically reduced to a small pile of sticker rot. What a fine mess I have made.
"Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing."
- L. M. Montgomery