comic books in the think tank


cartoon history of the universe
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

Political organizing, religion, books, feminism, writing, blogging, history, alternate history, poker hands, more books, the conversation went on for hours at my friend Deb’s house, swirling over Moomin’s head as he lay on the floor reading comic books, eating grapes, cookies, and hunks of cheese.

“He’s so good!” (I have no explanation for this. I think by good they mean quiet.)

“Isn’t this boring for him?”

Maybe it’s boring for him… I take him to poetry readings, grown-up parties, conferences, dinners, meetings, and role-playing games. He thinks, probably, that grownups habitually sit around talking about Stuff, with endless boringness. My feeling is that it’s good for him, even though he might not be at all interested – ever – in the kind of thing I enjoy. It seems okay for him to be around it. Plenty of other times, we do something for him, that he enjoys, but our lives don’t revolve around constantly providing perfectly age-appropriate educational experiences.

In other words, hanging out across generations, for kids, means that sometimes the focus is not on them… and that’s okay.

As a bonus, sometimes people read him cool books in restaurants! Deb got into reading “The Cartoon History of the Universe”, the chapter on dinosaurs and evolution. He really appreciates attention. Other grownups tend to give a lot of attention to the louder, more outgoing, demanding kids.

So, I wonder… if you always have your kid in Gymboree and Hobee’s, then they will only know that context of behaving. If you bring them to other contexts, then they learn other ways of being.

Um, in theory. But possibly I’m only saying that because I lucked out to have Moomin who is extremely portable, and will play with books and legos quietly for hours in a corner while I yammer about cultural appropriation and feminist science fiction. But isn’t he at least partly that way because his parents have made it so? And one enjoys reading quietly for hours because of the benign neglect of being hauled to grownup events where amusement has to happen in one’s own brain?

If he grows up and says “God, that was soooo boring,” well, it’s not so bad. He’ll find more interesting things to do soon enough!

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3 Responses to comic books in the think tank

  1. elswhere says:

    I think it's a combination, and often a vicious (or virtuous) cycle. I mean, yeah, MG has learned a lot about how to act at grownup activities through being dragged to them and ignored– but if she had wreaked havoc the first few times we'd tried it, we probably wouldn't have done it any more. There was some good parenting/teaching her how to act involved, but mainly it was her temperament. And the important detail that there's only one of her.

  2. badgermama says:

    Very good point… with only one kid, it's so much easier. With two, you might as well have six of them.

  3. wired says:

    I grew up much like that, and blessed my parents for it ever after. It turns out I osmostically absorbed the rules of adult conversation, post-colonialism, alternate Shakespearian authorship, and nursing home regulations before I turned 12.Our kids don't read yet, but do manage to self-entertain for some periods of time, so I'm happy about that.