It's my fault, really. I should have known better but I am not always good at predicting the future. Sometimes, as a parent, I make decisions without realizing the myriad ways they could come back to bite me in the ass. I made one of those decisions in June, right before Luisa and kids left for Portugal. I bought Miguel a Calvin and Hobbes book to read on the airplane. I had a vague tingling in the back of my brain that this could present problems but I gave it to him anyway because I just knew he would love it. So, I handed him the book and told him that he must promise to never do anything that Calvin does or I would have to take the book away. He agreed and, silly me, I took this as a binding contract. The truth is that I love Calvin and Hobbes. In fact, before I had kids, I once wished upon a star that I might grow up and have a child just like Calvin. Believe me, I get a good laugh about that late at night when I am holding my head in my hands and repeating the phrase "careful what you wish for" while my hair comes out in handfuls. So, Miguel took Calvin and Hobbes to Portugal with him and by the time I arrived a month later, he had it memorized. He could describe the panels to me in detail and quote the strips to me verbatim. He told me that he LOVED Calvin and Hobbes. At night, we could hear him laughing hysterically in bed and, if you have never heard your child laugh like that while reading, then you won't understand what we did upon returning to the United States. We went to the basement and got out all of our old Calvin and Hobbes books, six or seven or them, and gave them all to Miguel. The kid burped butterflies and rainbows for a week. He has now read them all and memorized them just as he did that first one. If you ask him about a specific theme in Calvin and Hobbes, he would be able to pull out a book and flip to the appropriate pages that depict it. It's impressive.
His performance on picture day for his soccer team was less impressive, however. He would smile beautifully and then, when the photographer would say "three", he would contort his face into various ridiculous expressions. When he didn't do that, he simply turned his head on the count of three. I'm no chimp - I recognized this as classic Calvin. He even got his buddy, Augie, in on the trick and the individual pictures took forever. Luisa gave them both a stern talking to which they completely ignored because, when it came time to take the team picture, they both persisted in this tomfoolery. The team picture required several takes and we will all have to settle for the last shot: Miguel and Augie with the most fantastically freaky smiles on their faces, one on each side of the team - like goofball bookends with obedient children between them. If you have read this blog for any length of time or you know me in person, you know that I get a little uptight about this sort of thing. I want children who behave properly at all times but I'm slowly beginning to realize that this is not my lot in life. No, I got what I wished for all those years ago - a bright but mischievous little boy. While I watched the spectacle of the soccer pictures and took in that final snap, I laughed - not the pinched laugh of the downtrodden mother that I sometimes am. Hell no, I laughed heartily because Miguel and Augie were freakin' hilarious. Later Luisa asked me what the other parents would think when they looked at the team picture and I said with certainty, "They'll say - thank god those aren't my kids". When I get that picture, I will display it proudly and I'll gladly claim both of those little goofballs. That picture will remind me that I need to laugh more...a lot more.