My gosh. I am so tired of stickers I want to put a sign on our door that says, “If you come bearing stickers, do not cross this threshold.”
People who buy my kids coloring books with stickers in them, because this is so much cooler than a regular coloring book? Please stop. People who think my kids will surely love this package of three thousand stickers (of course they will. Who doesn’t like annoying their mom with a sticker on every inch of her bedroom wall?)? Please stop. People who think maybe we could use these leftover motivational stickers for chore charts or potty training? Stop.
There was a time, not so long ago, when we thought that stickers would be a fun idea. I remember loving stickers as a kid. What I don’t remember is sticking them everywhere, but something I’ve learned about my boys is that even if we provide them with a sheet of paper to put their stickers on, that’s not where they will end up. Instead, they will end up on shirts and couches and floors and tables and usually my monstrous behind without my knowledge.
The first time we bought stickers, our first son was 2. We were potty training him, and we wanted to have a progress chart, because he was a bright boy and could figure out the calendar thing, counting how many days he’d stayed dry and clean. He was potty trained within a couple of weeks. So when it came time to potty train boy #2, we thought stickers would be a good idea again. Except we forgot that there was an older boy in the house who still loved stickers and wouldn’t be getting any, because he was not the one potty training.
We found stickers everywhere. I mean, everywhere.
And even though now we have vowed to ban stickers from our house, we still find them everywhere.
The other day we went to the store to get some more coloring books, because our 3-year-olds love coloring, and I love keeping their hands busy, because, otherwise, they’re reaching for knives when I’m not looking or deconstructing the bread machine when I take a potty break or trying to carry their baby brother by his neck when I turn around to make lunch. Most of the coloring books with uncolored pages in our house belong to their older brothers, because the twins have pretty much scribbled on every one of the pages of their own books and called it done.
I looked at so many coloring books. I was hard-pressed to find one that didn’t promise “Fifty brand new stickers.”
What in the world? Are coloring books not enough anymore? We have to entice kids to sit down and color with the promise of stickers? I DON’T WANT STICKERS IN MY HOUSE.
Stickers, you see, get EVERYWHERE.
Have you ever gone all the way to your boys’ school to pick them up after the bell rings and been told, politely, that you have an “awesome job” sticker on your rump, as if someone just wanted to tell you that you did a perfect job on those fifty squats earlier and smacked that sticker on you? I have. Have you ever walked into a grocery store with a Spider-Man sticker attached to the back of your head, because someone, while you weren’t looking, decorated the headrest in the van, and you didn’t realize it until you finally, just before leaving to go back home, looked behind you to see who was pulling your hair? Dang Spider-Man. Have you ever gone to a parent-teacher conference with Diego and his backpack staring at the teacher when you turned around because one of your kids thought it would be funny to stick it on your upper back, where you can’t even reach it, when you weren’t paying attention? I have.
And if I cared about what people thought, it would be terribly embarrassing. Since I don’t care, it’s just annoying.
So is opening the door to guests and turning back around to find a trail of Hulk stickers leading the way to the kitchen. So is hosting a birthday party and being asked if I’m aware that Iron Man is staring at everyone in the bathroom, because he’s stuck on every available surface of the walls. So is pulling up to the pediatrician’s office and opening the van door to take out my 3-year-old and seeing that he’s got puppies plastered all over his face.
Stickers are not my friend. We didn’t learn from the first disaster and stubbornly used stickers to potty train all our boys (because the hope that “this one will be different” is hard to kill), and, inevitably, someone would raid those reward stickers and slap A+ and Superb! all over the floor and we’d have to spend hours peeling them off. It didn’t matter how high we’d put that little book of stickers, little boys would scale walls to get them. I don’t even know how they did it, because I had to stand on tiptoe to reach them, but somehow they did, and every single time those stickers ended up in places they shouldn’t have been. On library books. All over the toilet seat. Up on the ceiling.
One time I went into my twins’ room to get them up from their nap and found stickers on their blinds, their closet door, their mirror, their lamp, their dresser, their chair, their bed frame, their door frame, and every available inch of skin. Everywhere. It’s still a mystery how they smuggled the booklet of stickers in with them. I peeled them all off, cursing in my head, but of course the stickers left souvenirs—the white sticky part you have to scrub with alcohol to get off. Who has time for that? I don’t even have time for showering anymore.
Needless to say, there are still some stickers on things. We haven’t scraped them all off, because there are too many of them. And I’d like to save my efforts for the prevention side of things: Keeping stickers out of the house in the first place.
So. No more stickers allowed. For real this time. Unless you want to be the one to come peel them off everything.
In that case, be my guest.
This is an excerpt from The Life-Changing Madness of Tidying Up After Children, the second book in the Crash Test Parents series. To get access to some all-new, never-before-published humor essays in two hilarious Crash Test Parents guides, visit the Crash Test Parents Reader Library page.