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How Calvin & Hobbes made me (ME!) get emotional

This post is going to make Kristin laugh. I know, I expect the jabs to come soon. Aw Kelly, you’re going soft! But I can’t help it. I had a moment last night. A genuine top ten moment and as it nears 5:30AM this morning I’m laying here thinking about it and I need to write it out. Record the occasion.

Let me backtrack a second, like I always do. My son Finn is now in grade 3. I mean, he looks about as tall as a 10 year old, but he’s still just in grade 3. Reading is supposed to be a regular thing now, I see his other classmates crushing chapter books with a vengeance and yet Finn has never been jazzed over it. I’ve sat through countless PAINFUL reading sessions, choosing quirky books to get him at least interested in reading but he’s always done the groan and eye roll when I suggest we read together. And when he reads it out loud, it’s almost painful. That monotone voice he uses, just reading the words, not really getting the story.

Anyone who knows me, knows that his reaction will have me screaming in pain from the inside. Reading is beyond important to me. I run through about 8 or 10 books a month. I just prefer it over TV, and I love jumping into a new world for a few days, the book wraps up, I get closure and then I delve into another one. It satisfies my overtly non committal nature and relaxes my whirring brain.

I know it’s a possibility, I know I can’t force a love of reading on my kids, but it’s something I’m not ready to admit defeat to. I’ve begged to read Harry Potter to Finn, but he’s (GASP) not into wizards or the supernatural or anything of the sort (DOUBLE GASP). At least there’s Wren whose already has shown a fondness for monsters, so I’m hopeful.

Anyways, Finn’s never been that way, preferring watching cartoons over anything. So as he continued to read a chapter books out loud, a painful monotone retelling of a subject that even I’m bored of, I had to think. I had to come up with a new plan, this wasn’t working.

For either of us.

He still hated to read, and I hated to listen to it.

One night I watched a doc on Bill Watterson. Creator (genius) of the comic Calvin & Hobbes. It was a fascinating watch, due partly to the fact that I grew up reading and adoring these books. These books that I can still pick up, flip to a page and almost recall the strip. So this would be 10…ok…15…OK! 25 years later and it’s still relevant, still funny, still incredibly witty and astounding to me.

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The books belonged to my sister, which she still has, so I realized I needed to get some comics in here…stat.

My new plan unfolded.

We began to read 10 pages a night or so. I would read them, out loud, frame by frame, and obviously explain it as we went. Calvin isn’t a normal little kid, he’s brilliantly smart and understated. His imagination might be hard for a little kid to grasp in comic form, wondering why all of a sudden the strip is drawn from the Jurassic period. Or understanding the political references during G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy Girls) meetings in the treehouse. Finn would only smile at first, not truly figuring it out but loving the drawings and relationship between a boy and his stuffed tiger.

But eventually he started to giggle.

After a few weeks, he would carry around his 2 large books and ask me when we would get cozy in bed and read them together. HE ASKED TO READ (TRIPLE GASP).

As Seuss would say: my heart grew 3 sizes that day…

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I’ve decided recently, my kids watch too much TV, not that I care, I mean I grew up in front of the tube, and I turned out ok…relatively, but they turn into little A-Holes for some reason and I had had enough. Restricting the TV didn’t bother Wren in the least. Last week I took it away all week and when I finally put on a movie, she walked away to colour. Finn on the other hand was DEVASTATED. But after a few days, we came to a routine. We’d play cards (which was right up Troy’s alley), or lay in my bed with Calvin and start to giggle (this was my alley).

So last night was my moment.

I told him we would read out loud for 30 minutes and then he would do it quietly beside me. But as we sat and laughed together it was so much fun, we continued for an hour. Then it happened…

MY SON READ ON HIS OWN AND LOVED IT!

I picked up my kobo, but found myself peeking at what he was reading, smiling when he smiled. His lips moving over the long words, I mean, some of those are really hard words for a kid. I did have to explain what a tyrant was and why Calvin’s mom was being one, but after my dictionary lesson, he would smile and keep going.

So yes, I had my moment, I almost verklempt at the sight. It will be a top ten, ingrained, a flick in time that maybe I did something right as a parent (those are few and far between, it feels). I mean these are the times I will remember when he doesn’t want to hang out with me anymore, when he’d rather spend his night with his friends, when he leaves for university one day to start his own adventure. I will always remember last night. Cuddling in my bed, the snow falling outside, reading the best comic ever written, and laughing uncontrollably over a little kid, his imaginary tiger and decapitated snowmen. It was perfect.

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