On putting away childish things.

When my mom was teaching, my brother and I would ride the bus to my grandma’s house after school. Our after school routine had the following components: snack, homework, card games, and Calvin and Hobbes. My family didn’t get the paper, but Grandma did, and she would always have the comics page out and ready for me when I got to her house. I remember the anticipation as I got off the bus – what happened with the transmogrifier? What about the duplicator? What creepy snowman did Calvin create today? How would they continue getting rid of slimy girls?

For Christmas this year, we gave Mike’s eight-year-old nephew some Calvin and Hobbes books. We did this because of all that stuff about how comics are good for boys and reluctant readers. And we did it because Calvin and Hobbes was such a formative thing for me. I owe Bill Watterson a great deal, because the world he created, with its dry humor and fantastic optimism about childhood, still shapes the way that I approach life today. Mike loves The Far Side, but for me, nothing compares to a boy and his tiger imagining adventures in their backyard.

Mike’s friend Gerry Canavan posted a few “grown-up Calvin and Hobbes” images last week. Some of them are too depressing to contemplate, but I can’t resist posting this one, which perfectly captures the way I feel about Calvin and Hobbes and what might be in store for them:


(I don’t know who the artist is, but if you happen to come across the name, please let me know.)

We don’t have kids, so we have to pass our childish things on to other people’s children. When our nephew opened the books, Mike’s sister said she had never heard of Calvin and Hobbes. Isn’t it interesting how things that are so important to one family barely register in another? I hope a little bit of this love has been passed on to the next generation. I hope Calvin and Hobbes and all their adventures continue to live on.

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