Well, actually, World Cup Sticker mania has struck. My two youngest have the fever and have emptied piggy banks and sofas to gather change to buy stickers of a bunch of guys with bad haircuts from around the world.
The stickers are actually not too badly priced and I prefer them over Pokémon cards (pause to spit to the side in hatred) which, to my terror, made a brief reappearance in the schoolyard this spring. Is there the equivalent of WHO (World Health Organization) or CDC (Centre for Disease Control) that monitors outbreaks of new and virulent strains of Pokémon fever? Pokémon is indeed an example of evil genius cynically tapping into a boy's need and desire to acquire stuff and compile lists and taxonomies. Pokémon (which apparently is a derivation of Pocket Monsters - more like Pocketbook Monsters) can generate oodles of new and weird Pokémon, since they do not correspond to the real world.
At least World Cup stickers correspond to the real world and actual achievements. It has even had some spillover benefits - they have gained a greater understanding of world geography and know the flags of dozens of nations. So that's cool - even though soccer itself leaves me cold (unless my boys are playing at which point I become VERY invested in it).
This is the background to my youngest demanding to go to the corner store and buy yet more stickers with his allowance. (Here, by the way, is why I believe in allowance - I do not have to constantly justify why I won't buy piles of useless crap for them - they have their own money to do so and if they blow it all they can repent their folly at leisure. They must be responsible for themselves and their own decisions. It has worked well with my eldest - he has become almost as stingy as I am. Oh, the tears of pride when I overhear him scoffing at his younger brothers, "Why would you WASTE you money on that stuff?" Sniff.)
So, the 6 year old is jumping up and down wanting to go to the store and I say, "Sure." I just have to go downstairs to put something away first. However, when I get back upstairs to take him to the store HE IS GONE. I mean totally disappeared. I yell for him throughout the house and outside. I run to the corner to look the two blocks to the store. No sign of him. There is no way he could run that fast.
I run back and check with some neighbours to make sure he isn't playing in their backyard. Nope. I see a Mum I know coming from the other direction (where there is another, inferior, corner store). Has she seen any of my kids going that way? "No? Do you need some help?" I start running to the first corner store. He must be there. But how could he disappear so fast and so completely?
As I approach the store, the door opens and out comes my beaming boy, his fists stuffed with sticker packs and followed shortly after by convenience store owner looking around - in my guilt and paranoia, I believe for the negligent parent who let their little kid go buy stuff on their own. The relief. The fear! The anger! I manage to calm myself down and not overreact.
"Buddy! What are you doing? I didn't know where you were."
"But you said I could get stickers with my money."
"Yes, but with me. Not on your own."
"You didn't say I couldn't."
Here I was hoisted by my own petard - me: big talker about generating autonomy and independence; casually bragging my kids walk to school on their own; giving them their own grocery lists to help with the shopping; insisting they pack and carry their own sports equipment bags etc. I used to walk to school and back starting in Grade One, Downtown Toronto, half hour walk, crossing major streets etc. Rolling my eyes at newsletters from school which warn against kids younger than 10 being allowed to cross the street on their own - 'they lack the capacity, maturity'. Ridiculous. How are they supposed to develop those qualities?
Busted. Because clearly how can I only demand independence when I approve it. Contradictory, ennit? So, mental regroup.
"But I haven't ever let you go before on your own. You always go with your older brothers."
Looked at me. What was my problem exactly? I had to confess.
"I was scared."
Then saw I was serious. And he was confused. Over that? As he should be. Mission accomplished. I have another independent confident big boy.
But it went so fast...