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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Calvin & Hobbes: Reflections

by Seattle Jon (bio)

The mornings have been colder lately, so I wasn't surprised when Seattle received its first heavy snow forecast of the season this past weekend (by Utah standards, nothing significant fell). I remember the first snowfall of last year. Not much had stuck, but the kids came home from church ready to have "snowball fights." When I wished them luck in gathering enough snow for even one snowball, Will said, "Well, maybe we'll just throw snowflakes at each other."

Snow and kids often turns my thoughts to Calvin & Hobbes (Calvin often created horrendous scenes with his snowmen). I grew up reading the comic strip in the Sunday paper and started buying the collection books when I noticed them turning up at our local Deseret Industries a few years ago. Today, most of the 18 published collections can be found in our cars, in our bathrooms, on our bookshelves or under our beds. Calvin & Hobbes is read so much, in fact, that the kids have developed several endearing C&H rituals.

On long car trips, the kids will turn down their favorite pages so they'll know where to start when they switch books with each other.

We allow our kids to read during breakfast and lunch (dinner is no books allowed) and often they'll each have their own collection open as they eat, more interested in the adventures taking place in front of them than the food being put into their mouths.

I often find myself participating in the recreation of a C&H adventure, or even better playing the victim. "Dad, can we ride our bikes on the roof?" "Dad, can we spray paint graffiti on the side of the house?" Dad, can we turn the garage floor into an ice rink?" After I say no to all three, they ask for an extra cookie. I say yes to humor them.

Perhaps what I love most about Calvin right now is he is helping teach my five year-old to read. We recently started homeschooling our kindergarten'er after he spent his first few months in public school while my wife was finishing up a course at a local college. His public school teacher did a great job introducing him to reading, but now the pressure is on us to keep the momentum going.

Here is why I'm not worried. Below is a sample of some of the more difficult words I found on just the first ten pages of There's Treasure Everywhere, one of the collections of C&H comic strips. I challenge MMM readers to cite another reading resource that both appeals to a kindergarten'er and has words like this to read (or at least to try and read).

altogether, enthusiastic, idolized, autographed, misunderstood, galoot, unethical, undeserved, satisfaction, justify, rationalizing, unwillingness, consequence, principles, dilemma, acknowledging, moral, hyperbole, demonstrate, cretin, pathetic, peripatetic, retort, sapsucker

I look forward to spending some of this winter's evenings curled up on my couch, with my kids, all of us reading Calvin & Hobbes. Or maybe we'll recreate one of Calvin's horrendous snowmen scenes in our front yard ... if Seattle ever does get that heavy snowfall.

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