Scotch Tape

What is considered precious changes from generation to generation.

During The Great Depression when people of my Godparent’s generation grew up, food and other essential living items were scarce. Consequently, they still save bits of foil and never waste a bite of food. To put food on your plate and not eat it was shameful and would lead to a marathon lecture of “there’s people starving in China” and “when I was your age we didn’t have anything to eat, we would have been happy to eat a blade of grass but no, we didn’t even have grass…”

When my parents were growing up, a long-distance phone call was a rare and precious luxury. The only time someone would call long distance in the middle of the week was if someone had died and it was unavoidable. And if you weren’t particularly fond of the deceased, you might just wait for Sunday when the rates were lower. People of my parent’s generation don’t just pick up the phone and make long distance phone calls without a second thought like most of us do.

Even though long distance is now fairly inexpensive, my parents will still wait until Sunday afternoon to call. Or if I happen to call them in the middle of the week, my mother will invariably truncate one of my many fascinating stories at my first pause for breath by saying, “Well, I know this is costing you, so I’ll get off the phone.” Click. Maybe it has more to do with my stories than the cost of the phone call.

I realized the other day that what is stuck in my mind as being more precious than it actually is, is Scotch tape. Sean is at the age where he likes to put Scotch tape on everything, so I usually dole out little pieces to him to keep him busy. The other day I looked at the tape dispenser and I thought, what’s 77 cents, why not just let him have at it and go crazy? So I handed it to him.

He clasped his grubby little hands together and got a crazed grin on his face like a drunk who was just handed a bottle of Boone’s Farm. Wreeeeeeeech! He pulled out about a 4-foot-long piece of tape and did an impromptu dance routine, whirling the sticky streamer in the air like one of those gymnasts with the long ribbons. He went back for more. I just couldn’t take it! It violated something at the very core of my being. I snatched it back from him – you just don’t waste Scotch tape!

When Sean is a grown man, what will he horde and hold precious? In our world of plenty, I can’t even imagine. I just hope it is something like Scotch tape and phone calls and not food.

23 thoughts on “Scotch Tape

  1. Ok, you’d go nuts around me! I LOVE TAPE!!! I play with it every chance I get! Oh, I can hardly resist those fabulous tape dispensers on secretary’s desks! My fingers itch to grab a piece and play with it!
    We never have tape around the house. Its so sad. I have to find other things. Like that wonderful stickly paper wrapped around a new pair of socks!
    My husband wants to buy stock in 3M, says I’d make him a wealthy man, if only he could put the money in the stock instead of buying the tape……….
    God bless,
    (wishing the packing tape wasn’t hidden in dh’s glove box in the car at his work…)


  2. yesterday I discovered that cats also think scotch tape is incredibly fun. my little tabby hazel, who’s one and a half, was THRILLED by the 5 inch piece of tape I let her play with while I wrapped my friend’s birthday present. I wish I had a video.

    just don’t put little circles of tape on the bottom of a kitty’s paws. I learned when I was about ten that they hate it, though it’s very funny to watch them walk.


  3. Reminds me of the Christmas I put a roll of Scotch tape in my son’s stocking. You would have thought it was the most fabulous. most expensive, most desired present in the world – the way he danced around the room, singing, “I got my own tape, I got my own tape!!!”

    Who knew gift buying was so easy?? LOL

    Hammers disappeared in my house – who knows why? I never got more than one use out of a hammer, then never saw it again. I bought so many hammers when they were growing up.

    Now that I think of it, my grown-up son is doing home renovations for a living. Do you think he was stockpiling equipment as a child???


  4. Your mom has to hang up for the money side of thing. It just CAN’T be the stories… I mean she’s related for goodness sakes!

    And I’m a closet tape miser too. I don’t care what it costs. Just don’t waste it.

    No wonder my kids are enjoying their time at Grandma’s so much this summer…


  5. I had that same experience with pudding when my kiddos were little. They would paint their highchair tray with it and I would scold and then I realized–why not? So I would make them pudding just to paint with it. Cheaper than real paint.


  6. Ahhh, children and Scotch tape. THEY LOVE IT!! I, too, have given the dipenser to my 4-year-old just to see long pieces around the house.

    Thanks for the grin


  7. Scotch tape has a habit of disappearing around here, too. It seems I can buy 3 rolls of it, and when I finally need to use it to wrap a present or something, I either barely have enough or it’s all gone.


  8. Isn’t it funny how that stuff is ingrained in us?!

    I had Depression Era parents myself, and there are certain things that I will not buy just based on principle alone! I often hear my dad’s words echoing in my head, “There’s a fool born every minute!” when I hear of really extravagant, overpriced cars, or over-the-top homes, or super-expensive designer clothing. And yet, there are other (MANY other) times when I splurge like a crazy woman!

    And somehow, beneath all that splurging, there’s still a certain level of guilt… as if I’m somehow not honoring what my parents so strongly believed in.


  9. Time. Time is what I wish to horde. Time is what I hold precious. I want to make these childhood, callapidder days stand still. I cannot.


  10. “When Sean is a grown man, what will he horde and hold precious?”

    Well if he ever has regressive memory therapy, he may be severely disturbed by any wanton waste of Scotch Tape!

    Great post. My parents live a local call away, but I’ll talk to my Dad for a few minutes and he’ll get sort of jumpy and say “Hold on, I’ll just run and get your mother” as though I was phoning via satellite link from the Internation Space Station.


  11. You just really made me aware of stuff I should have thought of before. Thanks. Sorry now my mind is there instead of here, but really thanks…


  12. I think I’m gonna go to WalMart this morning and buy my girls their very own scotch tape. My mom hoarded absolutely everything. I think it was to preserve her “good stuff”, things she bought just for her. Foods, beauty products, household items, anything was fair game for being “just for Mom”. I’ve tried to be really careful to avoid this behavior with my kids, and it isn’t easy. About the only thing I allow myself to be stingy with is Symphony chocolate and Diet Cherry Vanilla Coke. Some combination, huh?! LOL


  13. My stepmother likes calling on Sundays, too, except if there’s a storm. Then she won’t call or get online at all because she’s paranoid she’ll be hit by lightning. So if her call never comes, I’m supposed to check the weather and figure out it’s storming where she lives, and that’s why she’s not calling me as planned. Then I *might* get an e-mail mid-week explaining a storm kept her from calling on Sunday.

    And this is a woman who owns both a cordless phone and a cell phone.



  14. I just finished reading Grapes of Wrath. Every time I go into a store (any store) I can’t help but think of how they worked just to eat dinner that day and then the next day they worked just for that day’s dinner.

    I actually HIDE my scotch tape. And I don’t get why. It’s inexpensive and I was never told I couldn’t have it.


  15. My Scotch tape disappears regularly. . .normally found hiding somewhere in one of my 8 year old girl’s piles of art projects. I don’t horde it because of scarcity. . .I horde it so I can find it when I need to without having to yell, “WHO TOOK THE TAPE AND DIDN’T PUT IT BACK!!!” By the way. . .my husband has a tape ball (masking and duct–not Scotch) that weights 90 lbs. Is Sean in need of a hero?


  16. I find that books are pecious things. A book I got as a present recently started to shed pages as I read it. I emailed the publisher, who sent me a new book, with no loose pages. But I have both copies on the book shelf, I could not bear to throw away the ‘autumn’ copy.


  17. Isn’t it funny how we don’t want to waste Scotch Tape? I don’t either and never ever thought of it until now when I burst out laughing reading this. Now I have to think of what else I hoard…a little introspection before coffee. Who’d have thought??? 🙂


  18. so true, I never thought about it before reading your blog…my parents still wait until Sat & Sun to make their long distance phone calls.
    And my son loves to play with the scotch tape also..I had to laugh when I read that 🙂
    Blessings today!


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