It is time my friends. Time to pay homage to the couple who made the task of modern parenting/teaching/damage limitation possible. The inventor of the self-adhesive sticker, Mr. R Stanton Avery and his wife, Dorothy Durfee.
The Reward Sticker. Oh, how I have come to love these gummy little redeemers. These precious paper wafers, tools of compliance, delicate as gold leaf, and more loaded with meaning than a communion biscuit. Stickers are dispensed to our children like angel’s kisses by teachers, doctors, and parents alike. Within our children’s adhesive universe, there is a hierarchy of reward, ranging from the simple gold star to the ultimate, much coveted gummy prize; the large, glittery, puffy sticker, enhanced with foam.
My own relationship with self-adhesives runs thus:
1970-1977 ~ Boundless enthusiasm for ‘sticker collections’ equating, over a lifetime, to roughly £2500 worth 0f bubble gum in order to find 100 stickers.
1980-1984 ~ an odd flirtation with Sticky-Back-Plastic (Every. Single. School. Exercise Book.)
1996-1997 ~ a brief, rave-related bindi wearing phase.
2001- yesterday ~ a Post-It-Note based stationary fetish.
Which brings me to now. It was only yesterday, when the Biscuit Thief came home proudly displaying an “I ate all my lunch today” sticker AND a huge, red, glittery, puffy butterfly one for ‘sitting nicely’, that I thought, I want stickers. I bloody want bloody reward stickers. I want them plastered on my torso each time I complete a yoga class, I want them daubed across my face when I achieve edible meal provision, I want them glued to my weary eyelids when I have, yet again, kept calm and carried on. I want to be agglutinated, affixed, pasted to within a papery inch of my wretched domestic life with stickers that say “WELL DONE!”
In fact, why stop there: I could give my husband stickers too, ones that say things like, “Today, I have been amazing at not mentioning my wife’s ‘tache.” The Teenage Songbird could have ones that say, “I am not on drugs or pregnant. RESULT!”
It was in 1935 that ‘Stan Avery’ invented the machine that made self-sticking labels. His creation saw the light of day thanks to a $50 investment from a woman called Dorothy Durfee, a school teacher, who became Stan’s wife. Together, Stan and Dorothy ran Kum-Kleen Adhesive Products as equal partners. Today, nearly eighty years on, I shall construct a small altar to them made out of Avery mini labels and give thanks. Won’t you join me? You’ll get a reward sticker if you do.