When you were 5 years old, what did you say when someone gave you a sticker book? I loved sticker books: Pulling off stickers and finding the right page where that particular shape needed to be stuck. Stickers as rewards weren’t in fashion yet. Now, the dentist’s office, grocery store, and school have stickers galore which are handed out for grand accomplishments: Didn’t cry at the dentist’s office. Didn’t melt down in the check-out lane. Didn’t disrupt the class. To the Malcolm boys, reward stickers are not effective.

Neither Will nor Liam like stickers. They are sensitive to the adhesive, finding it down right offensive. However, neither mind getting their hands sticky – just not having adhesive things stuck to their hands. No burning through Sponge Bob Band-Aids in this house.

Both have adapted to our sticker-infested society. Pointing to his chest, Liam says, “Sure, put it right here on my shirt.” The sticker dealer is left to maneuver the adhesive. Will takes the sticker, and graciously says, “Thank you”; then walks out with the sticker backing intact. After one such occasion, to Will I said, “Honey, you don’t have to take it. Just say ‘no thanks.’”

Then, I started paying attention to how obsessed sticker dealers are with making sure at least one sticker goes home with my children. “You don’t want one? Are you sure?? Here, take a couple! Really, it’s OK – you can have them!!” The boys have worked out one general solution: Take a sticker or two, and the sticker dealer relents; then the sticker is ditched in the van. Or it goes with the shirt into the washer.

Yes, stickers are a bit like a picnic with ants. We don’t want the ants, but sometimes it’s easier to leave them be rather than to continually flick them off of our favorite quilt on a hot summer’s day.