So begins the latest offensive in my campaign to pique the boys’ interest in football, in particular the forthcoming Euro 2016.
When the latest major international tournament rolls around every even-numbered summer, it is traditional in our household to complete the accompanying Panini sticker album.
(The kids are still at the stage where they think ‘Panini’ is a grilled sandwich. They’re so middle-class.)
Funnily enough, it’s Heather rather than I who is the main protagonist in this project. My role is simply to make the initial purchase and keep a steady flow of sticker packs coming. While Isaac only has a passing interest in the games themselves, he loves the exercise of sorting through new stickers, filling the album and managing duplicates.
The Euro 2016 sticker album was released this week. So yesterday I picked up one and also purchased a stash of 30 packs to be rationed out gradually over the next couple of weeks. (Who am I kidding? They’ll all have been ripped open by this evening. Make that lunchtime. Actually, breakfast.)
And so the ritual begins again. Heather and Isaac – and hopefully Toby and maybe even Kara too this time – will sit down together, carefully sort through the new stickers and carefully insert them into the corresponding empty spots in the album, discussing each nation as they go.
As the stack of ‘spares’ begins to accumulate over time, the opening of each pack is accompanied by a whispered commentary of, “Got … got … need …” as duplicates are set aside and wanted stickers are identified.
In our modern world where up-to-date and more complete and accurate squad lists and photos will be readily available online, sticker albums feel like an anachronism, a relic from a bygone age. However, there is something pleasingly tactile about the manual nature of working methodically towards completing an album, even if eBay now provides a convenient substitute to the old system of negotiating ‘swaps’ in the school playground.
And the old “Got … got … need …” mantra has been pleasingly maintained in the form of the Twitter hashtag #GotGotNeed. That pleases me much more than it probably should, but there you go.
Will the kids be interested in Euro 2016? Maybe, maybe not. But they’ll have fun working on the Panini album together for the next several weeks and that’s a good enough start for me.