I think as a parent you often hope that your children will end up loving the things you loved. Mostly. I have always loved comics – newspaper, Sunday-morning-type comics. My favorite, along with everyone else is my generation, was Calvin and Hobbes. Before I went to college, I had amassed the complete collection of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. They’ve spent most of the intervening decades near my bed as safe bedtime reading to wash the taste of hard days from my mouth.
This harmless location takes on an entirely new aspect when your own unkempt-haired six year old boy learns to read. Sure enough, when I dared sneak one of the books next to my bed, it was found in short order by my young son. With trepidation, I warned Grey that Calvin didn’t always make good choices and if I caught him pulling some of Calvin’s stunts, or acting as rude as Calvin could, I would be disappointed. Then I let him at it.
He loves them. Loves. They are scattered throughout the house. They are far and away Grey’s favorite reading material. He sits on the heat vents and reads them after school. He reads them while he eats. He lounges on the couch and reads them during his brother’s nap time. His mis-readings are pretty hysterical. For example, the word “heinie” is not in his vocabulary. “Mom, what is a ‘hee-nigh?'”
He has also started sneakily reading after bedtime. He’s never been able to relinquish his nightlight, so his room is quite bright. Many’s the evening lately I sneak in to give him his goodnight kiss and find him facedown on “The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes”. As long as he seems reasonably rested, I’m not going to bust him on it – and it’s making bedtimes much easier since instead of trying to lure us to stay longer he wants us gone so he can read.
I was afraid of the bad influence of Calvin on Grey, but instead Calvin is teaching Grey about a style of imaginative play that’s gone out of style lately. Grey built a tiger trap (tuna fish sandwich). Grey recently constructed his own transmogrifier, and has turned himself into various creatures. Grey made an adventure flip book similar to Calvin’s detailing tiger-food but less gory. Following Calvin’s lead, he’s flipped it over in order to do time travel. He’s begging to experiment whether cereal actually tastes better when hunted and stalked around a corner. He’s requested stuffed monkey heads for dinner, and telling him that food will turn him into a mutant is an effective way of getting him to eat. I suspect that if we get any snow, he’s going to want to imitate Calvin’s phenomenal snow-creations.
For all Calvin’s parents exhaustion, and his own complaining, Calvin had some pretty fun times in his 11 years of first grade. I hope that Grey enjoys himself with some of Calvin’s more enjoyable ideas. And so far we seem to have avoided the less salubrious elements of Calvin’s childhood!