Calvinball Returns

Facebook Thursday, November 20, 2008

“Other kids’ games are all such a bore!
They’ve gotta have rules and they gotta keep score!
Calvinball is better by far!
It’s never the same! It’s always bizarre!
You don’t need a team or a referee!
You know that it’s great, ’cause it’s named after me!” – Calvinball theme song

My generation (and our parents) that read the newspaper comics lovingly remember Calvin and Hobbes. Sadly, the genius of Bill Watterson has now dwindled to car decals and collector’s item compilation books.

I read the comic faithfully. I wasn’t a huge fan of “Spaceman Spiff” but enjoyed the adventures with Mrs. Wormwood, facetious Hobbes, the snowmen, the flustered parents, and the “Odes of Calvin” – one of which I can still recite verbatim – and favorite titles, “Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat,” for example. And who can forget – Calvinball.

Notice the score?

Even in leaving teaching last year, I still substitute teach as a source of income during this interim of careers and life. I’m beginning to see children and education in different situations and settings. I’ve only had a few days of younger elementary, and today during a Kindergarten “Fun Monday,” I was reminded of Calvinball.

“I took over this space ship”
“My blaster shot you before you flew away”

“I’m going to be the kitty.” (And I’ll add, the student continued to be “the kitty” all around the classroom for another 30 minutes!)

That is only a small portion of the random conversations that I heard. Spacemen, doctors, waitresses, aprons, painting, emergency room, horses, Legos, plastic hotdogs and hamburgers. Anyone not knowing 5 year-olds and how they mingle would have walked in and seen mass hysteria. My view was a little different, I saw chaos but also some good training for adulthood. Calvin-ball in any form is a necessary skill to master. And I’ll add, “any form” includes number of players.

Calvin-ball, you may remember, was a “make-it-as-you-go” game. It started as a simple base game (kickball, baseball, etc.) but the bases and rules expanded as it went on. Isn’t that all of us though? How many adults have I heard refer to newborns as “easy” because it’s just “eat, sleep, and poop?” Yet, in a few short months and years, the newborn begins to crawl, discover, play, walk, talk, and even scarier…ask questions! The rules changed. There are more complicated turns and stops in the day. How many of us at one time wailed, “That’s not fair!” Only to have the response be, “Who ever said ‘life was fair?’”

High school seems simple enough: get the homework done, make friends, have fun. There are a few bumps, but you make it through and keep going. College and careers – people don’t play fair and change the rules. In fact, some people play downright mean! And you think of the good times during recess when you could swing on the monkey bars and play knockout with your friends and enjoy the sunshine. Until someone pushes you hard into the rocks or kicks your basketball into oblivion. Good old days, huh?

Calvin-ball is played by all children, even if it doesn’t include a ball. And my child development friends may or may not agree, but from what I’ve observed…Calvinball is necessary training.

*Images on this page are for readers’ reference to the subject matter and remain the property of their respective copyright holders.



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