Friday, May 18, 2012

Stamps, A Kids Tale

A few months ago my son went over to the bookcase, removed his starter stamp kit and went to the table. He began looking through the pages and getting a few stamps from the glassine envelope they were in. As I entered the room my jaw hit the floor and my heart fluttered a bit as he said “Hey Dad let's work on stamps.” I could not get my album and supplies fast enough.

You see, I have collected stamps off and on since I was a teenager. He has watched me ply my hobby numerous times and frequently I have encouraged and asked him to join in. But never with much success. I took him to the stamp shop, bought him stamps, taught him some about postal history and stamp making and ultimately bought him a starter kit that supplied a small album, stamps, hinges and a magnifier. We have dusted it off more than once. Unfortunately he just never really got motivated to collect. In some ways I blame myself because I may have tried to get him going on it a little young. The mint sheet of Yoda stamps with one single cut out (with scissors) is proof. Be that as it may, I always kept trying and hoped he would take a liking to it.

So you can imagine a father's joy when he, of his own free will, got his stamps out and was interested in working on them. So I dusted the starter kit off one last time and spent the first of numerous sessions collecting stamps with my son.

I have asked myself a few times why it seemed to take so long for him to jump in with me. Because my son wants to do just about everything else I do (except chores of course). From gaming to TV watching; movies, books, pretty much whatever. His Grandfather used to say he was like gum on my shoe. So it just baffled me why stamps would be different. Then it kind of dawned on me one day that just understanding the concept of mail and delivery, postage and stamp values can be things that children just don't hook up with at times. If it doesn't affect them or if they don't have a need for it, they have little attention for it. Sure he enjoyed being with me when I stamped. But actually doing it was something else. So what brought him to us was maturity and age. I had to let him decide he liked it. Not me. In his way he had to do it. I am so glad he did.

I am also glad that I tried as hard as I did because when he was ready he had the knowledge and tools at his fingertips to succeed. I didn't give up on him either. That I am thankful for. With this world of instant media, it is important for me and my children to have something that gets us out from behind a screen. If there is some frustration out there with kids who seem disinterested, I want to share some of the things I did to keep him on the outer ring of the hobby until he decided to come in.

  1. I invited him and always let him know he was welcome to join me – Just knowing that is important to kids. Keep the door open so they can walk through.
  2. Take them to the stamp store – The first couple of times I made it a “Hey let's go to the stamp store” event. But when he started turning a nose up to that I made it a “Hey since we are out, I need to go to the stamp store” event. That way I was not really forcing him to go and after some time he actually stops and looks at the merchandise. I know the day will come when he asks me to go and I can't wait.
  3. I have quite a few book marks to stamp resources on my computer. Off handed I have made sure he knows where they are and where the best ones go. As he has aged his computer usage has grown as well. Now he uses them regularly.
  4. Give them something to hold onto – In the beginning I gave my son a few stamps that I could careless what happens to them. Those floated around his room for a very long time. Sometimes on the floor, bed or toy box. But I knew he was messing and playing with them. When he got a little older a starter kit that you can get for under twenty bucks was in order. The rest of the story you know.

I love this hobby and I am sure the passion in many runs deeper than mine. It almost broke my heart that my son wasn't interested in it. But with a hefty amount of patience and understanding I have help him grow a real interest in stamps. There no guarantee that he will stay with it. But I think he will. I know all kids will not take up philately. But if there is a chance, this story shows that it can and will happen.

-submitted by Stamp Bears member (and upcoming author here),

thank you for reading and as always HAPPY STAMPING!!! 

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