If collecting cards and the like is really "the Dark Side" that my wife thinks it is, I'm bringing my daughter with me.
Before I got into cards I collected stickers. My sister and I wrote away to ads for the "Pineapple Club" we found in Archie comics and in the Muppet Magazine. Six to eight weeks later we each had more stickers than we could do with -literally. So we stuck the sheets in photo albums and looked through them regularly comparing what each of us had adn lamenting what we didn't.
A couple years later this gave way to a He-Man sticker book from Panini. Much like cards, you'd buy the album and then grab packs of stickers, building your set and finishing your sticker book at the same time. This was an instance of unfortunately/fortunately. Unfortunately the the corner store ran out of He-Man stickers shortly after I got my sticker book. Fortunately, they got a Transformers one after that. For the next couple of months all of my allowance went towards stickers for that book. I think I may have even done extra work in exchange for more stickers.
After the store ran out of Transformers stickers I got into hockey and from there I was into cards. I credit these Panini sticker albums as getting me into cards in the first place. They were a bridge of sorts from one hobby and into another. Now it's time to get my daughter started.
Like a lot of three-year-olds, Evelyn loves Dora the Explorer. She also loves to get special treats for doing a good job, overcoming a fear or trying something new. I don't like comparing my kids to dogs, but it's much the same as rewarding a dog with a cookie for fetching the paper, going doodie outside or sitting. And just as the tail wags with joy and anticipation, Evelyn comes running when I reach into the closet and pull out a pack of Dora stickers for a job well done.
For the price of five packs of 2008 Topps Baseball I picked up a Dora album from Panini and a box of 50 packs of stickers. So now when Evelyn does a good job with something (right now it's sleeping through the night without screaming about the shadow of the curtain rod that she swears is a shark) she gets a pack of stickers.
"Evelyn are you sure you have that one? It's just Map and a simple background. There's one like that on every page."
"No, daddy. We have it."
Sure enough, I flip to the place in the album where this generic sticker belongs and map is staring me in the face, taunting me for questioning my daughter even in a trivial matter such as this. Doubles are set aside for a friend Evelyn met while visiting our hometown over the summer and kept away from her brother at all costs.
I'm not pushing for my daughter to join me in the wild world of card collecting, but if she sees me sorting through some piles or is curious by a certain card, I'll sit down with her and tell her the story of that card. For every card does have a story and every story should be passed on. And if from that Evelyn wants to join her dad, dagger grins from my wife aside, I'll hold onto every moment we share together ripping packs, sorting and debating whether or not it's a double. I'll just have to remind my wife that it's about the quality time we're spending together and not the extra 400-count boxes the card shelf is accumulating.