It’s a stick up

2011-05-16 00:00

WHEN I was a child (way back when) we collected pieces of writing paper, which we kept in photograph albums, and swopped with each other. We loved the pages that had little pictures in the corner. The pages with watermarks were especially rare and the most prized were the cheesy ones with a girl and guy holding hands running into the sunset.

We were sure we would save these for penning romantic love letters to hot boys one day. I am not sure what happened to my writing-paper collection, but I never did write on any of that soppy stationery.

The least special­ were the thank- you pages which we had to use to write to older relatives after receiving unwanted gifts. A chore that our parents insisted would develop our characters.

In the ensuing years children of all generations have had their thing for collecting. Stamps, football cards, marbles, pencils and flags — some of these childhood crazes are egged on by marketing companies that feed the urge.

Remember the Tazos inside potato chip packets that probably drove an entire generation towards obesity as parents battled to keep up with the demand for them? Today my daughter­’s generation is mad about stickers. Girls between the age of six and 12 are wild about stickers and sticker books, and the craze has captured a whole generation. Sticker collecting­ began as far back as the seventies, but today there are many different kinds and the adult world of scrapbooking has added to the variety of stickers available.

At Howick Preparatory School most girls in this age group carry a sticker book in their school bag among their school books and at breaktime they hurriedly whip them out to engage in the rapid process of sticker swopping.

Usually stickers are sold on a cellophane strip in a loose theme, the idea being to get as many different stickers in your book as possible. By swopping your stickers you can add to your collection and get a bigger variety. Certain stickers are more valuable than others.

Each girl has her own way of organising her sticker book. Samantha Campbell in Grade 4, has her stickers in themes, flowers on one page and animals on another. She has been collecting for two years. She says her younger brother, in Grade 1, has also begun to collect boy stickers. Nicky Lawrence (10) says she has some rare ones that her aunt bought her.

“I think they are from overseas. No one has them and they are really big.”

The popular ones are those that glitter, those that are puffy and those that have 3D effects, and usually one swops the same size for one that is equivalent.

“Popular Disney stickers have more value,” says Kelly Kendall showing me her Winnie the Pooh stickers.

Wendy Guy likes the stickers with texture and her book is wild and haphazard with colour and variety.

“That’s how I like it,” she says shrugging.

Educational psychologist Rita Ferness on the website www.42explore. com says that collecting things teaches children the value of items and teaches them how to bargain and how to sort and organise.

“Many children develop skills through seemingly silly hobbies. Children collect different things and whatever they collect could spark an interest in whatever they decide to do as an adult.

“As you build any collection, you apply­ skills in identifying, selecting, discriminating, evaluating, classifying and arranging items.

“Those who view collecting as trivial­ or a waste of time, miss the connections that it has to life skills and occupations. Many people make their livelihoods by collecting and disposing items. In fact, all of us go through our lives collecting and discarding things around us,” says Ferness.

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