The Boy is studying a book, closely examining the words and pictures. Finally, he turns to me.
“I don’t get it,” I take a look at the book.
A troop of British soldiers is is in a line, one with eyes very wide. The caption reads”
“Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775: An unfortunate twist of fate for one young Redcoat. Charles “Bugeyed” Bingham was not knowing that the opposing American general had just uttered the historic command ‘Don’t fine until you see the whites of their eyes'”
We have just moved to New England and one of my great joys is sharing with him my limited knowledge about the Revolutionary War. So we chat about Col. Prescott (the quote is sometimes attributed to him, sometimes to General Putnam). The circumstances surrounding The Battle of Bunker Hill, the cause of the revolution, the practicality of the order, and all of this from a Gary Larson cartoon.
The Boy and I frequently find ourselves using odd books to initiate conversation. Far Side cartoons frequently make obscure or dated references. He want to laugh at the jokes, but is too honest to laugh unless he “gets” it.
Calvin and Hobbes creates conversations about empathy, imagination and bullies. In addition, the language the eponymous characters use is very advanced. A few years ago, when The Boy was only six, he looked at me close to tears, asking why Calvin knows all these words that The Boy does not. After comforting him that it was not written by a six year old, he focused on improving his vocabulary.
Comics are not our only unusual source of study. Two years ago, The Boy started taking karate. A year later, I joined him and we both embraced the martial arts. Since moving here, we started studying Tae Kwon Doe. This has lead to talks about Korea, Japan and their relationships, the way traditions transfer and grow and change to fit environment.
Great learning comes from conversation. My greatest teachers were the ones who were engaging. It also requires a point of access to ask questions. And if Bill Watterson or Gary Larson or Herge are these points, I’ll not complain.