Motivation that Sticks

Recently, I read a little article in one of the many parenting magazines I receive (more about my magazine habit and how I keep it under control later) that asked moms to reveal a “kid-like” trait of theirs. Answers varied from cutting crusts off sandwiches to having to touch everything. So I thought…what kid-like quirks do I have? One that quickly came to mind is the joy I get from stickers. That’s probably one of the main reasons I started scrapbooking – it gave me an excuse to buy stickers. Lots and lots of stickers. This may be a little wacky…but I still have my collection of sticker books from when I was in oh, 2nd and 3rd grade (Lisa Frank ring a bell anyone?) Forget trading cards, when I was a kid the big thing was to swap stickers. I remember the excitment of starting a new book, of finding a new design for the all horse sticker page (which sometimes could include unicorns, and sometimes not). It was an awesome day when my mom would let me come with to pay the electric bill at the Ben Franklin, and give me 10 cents to pick a sticker to buy off the rolls they had displayed in shimmering glossy reems.

I was always an A student…and while I’m not sure, I wonder if perhaps stickers played a role in my desire to do well. Getting a test or a paper back with a “You’re a Star!” sticker stuck perkily on the top center of the page always gave me a thrill of pleasure.

I don’t care what age you are – seeing a sticker on your work just feels good. When I taught high school I would often put stickers on my students’ tests. You’d be amazed how even Mr. I’m-Too-Cool or Ms.I’m-So-Bored got a kick out of seeing cute little animals shouting congratulations at them stuck to their work.

As a homeschool kid, I don’t want my daughter to miss out on what may be conisdered more a part of the “standard” school experience. So, among other things;  I make sure we decorate the house for each holiday much like you’d see in a primary classroom setting and often put stickers on her schoolwork.

Anyone who homeschools (and is honest) can tell you that it can be pretty darn rough some days. On those days when I want to tear my hair out just to get her to try to sound out a word, or remember what comes after 14, or write her middle and last name as well as her first…then I am thankful for the power of stickers. When we are in such a moment, I pull out a sheet of stickers, let her mind rest as she chooses one she likes, then tell her once she has completed whatever assignment we are struggling with, she can place the sticker on the page.  Maybe it is because, like her mother, she delights in stickers so much – but the tactic always works.

That’s why I am so happy with the page-a-day calendar I got for Miss A this year. She is obsessed with counting down days: knowing how many days there are between one activity and the next, and…of course…how long until her birthday. Last year she had a  Littlest Pet Shop page-a-day; it was cute, but I just ended up with sheets of pet shop characters littering her bedroom floor.  This year we got the Teacher’s Sticker-A-Day box calendar. January is not yet over and I already LOVE this calendar. It covers 3 days at a time, so if you’re like me and will blink only to find it has gone from Tuesday to Friday, it’s nice to feel caught up.  The variety of stickers is great too, and Aishtyn has already had papers awarded with dancing dinosaurs and cats that say “Purrr-fect.”

I’m so pleased I think I’ll give myself a sticker.

As for how else I’m like a kid? I love new crayons. I’d rather open a box of new ones than sharpen perfectly good used ones. This is why I also love Crayola’s new line of twistable crayons. They are like having new crayons all the time, and since they are encased in a plastic tube, you don’t have that funky crayon smell. (What is that smell anyway?)

And thinking of how I’m still a kid made me think of those cheesy frosted mini-wheat commercials, where at the taste of sugary frosted goodness, an adult suddenly morphs into their former kid-self, while still wearing their big-person clothes.

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