While in Maryland my three-year-old nephew asked me to read him a book titled Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch. I had heard of this book, I know it's a favorite for a lot of people, but I had never read it before. So I pulled my nephew close to me and began this new literary adventure with him. I found the first page sweet, although I did think it was a little odd that the mother "crawled across the floor" in order to check to see if her baby was asleep before picking him up and singing to him. I mean is the kid that light of a sleeper? And if he is maybe she shouldn't pick him up. Still, the sentiment is nice. And she does the same when he's a troublesome toddler. Again, crawling weird, rocking and singing to a sleeping child not so much.
But when she does the same thing to her boy when he's a nine-year-old and later when he's a teenager I began to worry about the family dynamics that existed in this household. My son is eleven and while I could still pick him up I certainly couldn't do it without waking him. The fact that this mother is able to do so to a teenager makes me think that maybe her son has a drug problem. No one above the age of seven can sleep that deeply naturally. And why is she still crawling?! Is it so she can scurry across the room and crouch in a dark corner in the off chance that her Ambien-loving son wakes up from his nightly coma? And if she thinks her son would object to her being there maybe she shouldn't be! Maybe the whole reason he's taking drugs is because he's self-medicating to help himself cope with his stalker-mommy.
But I didn't say any of this to my nephew. I just kept reading. It wasn't until we got to the page where the son is an adult in his own house and the mother has taken a ladder over to his place in the middle of the night, crawled in his window when he's asleep, used her bionic-woman-like strength to lift him into her arms (with out waking him...definitely drugs) that I got the chance to speak up. My nephew pointed to a kitten in the illustration who was stretching his legs toward the open window and asked,
"Oh, that, is a funky looking kitty-cat," I said in my gentlest voice, "and he's trying to escape because this crazy mommy just broke into the house again."
"Kyra!" I turned to see my sister-in-law glowering at me. "I've read this book to all of my children when they were this age," she continued. "Do. Not. Ruin it!"
For the record my nephew really liked the way I had answered his question and now had a lot more eager questions for me but his mother was now standing over us and flat out forbid me to answer, repeatedly reminding me to "stick to the script."
I did. I got to the scene where bionic-mommy is on her death bed and her son sings to her for once and yes, the scene did pull on my heart-strings. And then I get to the page when he comes home, lifts his sleeping daughter up from her crib and sings the song his mother has been singing to him to his infant child...which begs the question: If he was really asleep while his mom was singing the song how does he know the words? So maybe he isn't a drug addict. Maybe he has been faking sleep this whole time in order to avoid the otherwise inevitable confrontation that would have probably begun with, "Mom, you need to stop this crawling-stalker stuff."
But those weren't the first questions that popped into my mind. The FIRST question was:
"He has a kid?!?! How did that happen?"
Because honestly, if I knew that my mother was breaking into my house on a semi-regular basis and sneaking into my bedroom I would never have sex. Period.
Now I would never write anything in my blog that I thought might have the slightest chance of causing another author career problems but Love You Forever is already a children's classic and nothing I say is going to deter its continued success. And I understand why it's a success. It reinforces the idea that no matter how old you get, or how much you misbehave, your mother will always love you (in the book the toddler version of the son flushes his mom's watch down the toilet, something even my 3-year old nephew was horrified by). It also has the repetition that young children respond to so well in literature. And I'm sure many of you are thinking, "Hey! I love that book! My kids love that book! That book has serious sentimental value to me and my family!" Again, I get why it would. I really do.
I'm just saying that for me personally, as an adult, it sort of freaks me out. I think that any mother who climbs in her adult child's window in the middle of the night might have a few issues. I'm just sayin'.
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