Cats have catnip, Californians have medical marijuana, and kids have stickers. Faced with the question of what to do during a long, wet afternoon, an intercontinental airplane journey, or just a normal, run-of-the-mill tantrum, the answer is invariably to get out a book of stickers.
Judging by the 70 comments to the posting “Literally the Best Thing Ever: Stickers” (“A new sheet of alphabet stickers can make my day. A package of playful velour cats can make my week,” writes 19 year old Jamie) on the teen website Rookie, the enjoyment doesn’t fade from one end of the K-12 experience to the other. The commenter “Bean” paid the ultimate compliment by claiming that stickers are “even better than Playdoh.”
And the enjoyment is not easily explained. When I asked my daughters in a variety of different ways over a number of days, “Why are stickers so much fun?” I was told, “They just are.”
As a young boy, I collected Figurine Panini soccer stickers — kind of a sticky version of baseball cards. But for those stickers, the fun was in the the trading, the competition, and the completion — not really the physical act of sticking. Though there was a satisfying pleasure in securing the pictures in the catalog, it was a process of collecting, not collaging.
But for my daughters, nieces, nephews, and their friends, all it takes to make a piece of paper fascinating is a thin layer of adhesive. The size or shape of the particular article seems almost immaterial. A roll of masking tape is an excuse for hours of fun, sticky glittery letters are heaven. My natural inclination is to try and understand the fascination but, ironically, I have no grip on it at all. So I am stuck walking around with various characters attached to my shirt or, if I can’t beat ‘em I join ‘em, and I stick stickers: it could be worse!