I have kids. Kids are expensive. It’s not even the doctor/maintenance stuff–which, don’t get me wrong, that’s expensive–but rather all the hoo-has you buy them to keep them entertained. I’m pretty even-keeled on what’s appropriate and what’s brat-inducing, but every so often a trend comes along, and the next thing you know, you have a huge plastic organizer for all the stupid Silly Bandz your fifth grader has acquired.

For me, it was scratch-n-sniff stickers.

Because sometimes you need a hit o'pickle, amirite?

Because sometimes you need a hit o’pickle, am I right?

They’re ridiculous. Most of the time they smelled horrible. Or–for those of you who had Strawberry Shortcake dolls, you’ll recognize this instantly–they all began to smell like a fused sweet pile of sickly-fruity garbage. Mmm!

The key was to buy one for your scrapbook and a few extra to “trade” with friends for whatever they had that you didn’t. They were like baseball trading cards, if those had actually smelled like Pete Rose (which would smell of cigar smoke, old jock strap and poker chips).

There was a skunk scratch and sniff. As someone whose grandmother had a barn on the farm that no one was allowed inside because skunks had taken over (we cousins would dare each other to go in. No one was stupid enough to do so), that isn’t a smell you want to revisit. And yet.

Ahh, the scent of worn leather, foot sweat,  and a soupçon of cow patty.

Ahh, the delightful and homey scent of worn leather, grandpa’s foot sweat, and just a soupçon of cow patty.

I can just see sixth grade me, flopping back on my bed, a well-worn copy of King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry (with tracing paper on my desk, because I was obsessed with that cover, trying to get that fire in the horse’s nostrils just so) dropped near my slack hand as I draped my scrapbook over my face, taking in a much-needed hit of fresh popcorn and restroom hand soap. That one in particular was my favorite. It smelled of Jergen’s lotion, which I strangely loved. Cherry vanilla? I think that’s the scent. Kids are weird. (Or maybe that was just me. Probably that one.)

I’d lie there with my eyes glazed, my mouth slack, just huffing in hit after sweet hit, my fingers barely able to scratch the paper after thirty minutes of this. Think Trainspotting, but with an eleven year old jonesing for a “real pony smell” sticker. I was the Renton of my sixth grade class, ready to do anyone in if they had the rare Rubber Tire sticker.

I’m happy to say that as an adult, I’ve kicked the habit. I’m off the skag. No more “Dill-ightful” nose candy for me.

What is it about elementary school that has these odd trends? What was your thing? The one you look back on now and just scratch your head over. [leans in and smells your head] DAMMIT, I THOUGHT I WAS PAST THAT.

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