A father and son hugging


Don’t Be Afraid Of Robert Munsch’s ‘Love You Forever’

Jul 25, 2018

It’s buried at the bottom of your bookshelf, isn’t it? Perhaps the greatest Robert Munsch book of all time and you won’t read it. You’re afraid. We’re all afraid. I’m not sure what’s scarier, my tears or my children’s questions. However, recently, I was forced to face my Forever feelings. 

Let’s go through the book together and see if we can gird you for your next attempt at Munsch’s classic.

My husband was away for work and on the last night I treated myself to a G&T with dinner, so when my kids picked out Love You Forever, I wasn’t operating at 100 per cent. I didn’t redirect their choice quickly enough and was forced to read it. By the time Munsch’s adorable boy hit his teens I was full out Van Der Beek sobbing. My kids had seen me cry before, but this was next level.

So what did I do? Firstly, I was honest with my kids about why I was crying. And guess what? They totally understood. Secondly, I pitched a story about all of this to the CBC, and in that process I nailed down exactly what’s so tough about Love You Forever (for me). It’s not sad because they’re growing up. I love watching them grow up! It’s sad because I’m growing up. I’m the one who moved out, I’m the one rocking an ailing parent, I’m the one with the babies I sing to. That’s the scary part. Now that I’ve realized this I feel better equipped for the next tipsy storytime. 

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Let’s go through the book together and see if we can gird you for your next attempt at Munsch’s classic.

The baby page doesn’t bring the tears for me. I don’t want another baby, I want a million five-year-olds. Also, this is the first page, so if you’re crying at this point then you should just sign out the audiobook from the library, hit play and leave the room.

I thought this article was going to be about kids being able to handle feelings. But, really, it’s about parents.

The toddler page always makes me ask the same question: Why didn’t my kids flush things down the toilet? I was looking forward to that. Have they developed a proper disregard for authority?

The nine-year-old page and teenager page start to make me feel. When my big-little boy holds my hand now it’s just out of pity. And that pity dries up within a block of the schoolyard. But the sight of that illustrated Walkman and pizza on the floor usually pulls me out of my emotional sunken place.

Then Munsch comes at you with a sucker punch to the stomach. The moving van! Why is he moving out already? I mean, good for him for being able to afford his own home, especially with house prices the way they are... Wait, will my kids ever be able to afford a house near me? How lonely will I be when they leave? Do I need to get a life?

Now I’m really crying. I had to explain to the kids that it’s sad thinking about them moving out, without making them feel guilty. In my heart I wanted our discussion to end with them saying “we’ll never leave you” but I knew this parenting moment would be a total fail if they did. So I explained that. “It’s sad to think about you leaving, but it also means you’re ready to be grown-ups and that means dad and I did a good job.” They were both thrilled about living with their friends and peeing in Gatorade bottles (my husband tells them too many dorm stories). Their excitement dried up my tears pretty quickly.

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How long can I put off writing about the next page? When he comes home to rock his mum — well, this is when I started sobbing. At the best of times this one is hard. Add an ailing parent I’ve wanted to rock to sleep and this page is a black diamond. In Banff. My dad will never read me a bedtime story again, or slip a $20 in my baby doll’s sleeper when I’m home for the weekend. This is a word-more-than-sad for me, but it’s manageable information for my kids to hear and process.

It’s not sad because they’re growing up. I love watching them grow up! It’s sad because I’m growing up.

I told them that it’s hard for me to see grandpa sick and that I worry about him and their grandmother. My daughter gave me a squeeze-your-juices-out hug and they both asked questions they had been wondering about their grandparents, and then we flipped the page. Which is a great metaphor for big feelings. Talk about them and flip the page.

For me the final page, when he returns home to his baby, is bittersweet. He’s got a new baby! Squeee. But now I’m the one standing at the top of the stairs, about to go into my baby’s bedroom. I’m the one watching them change and no one is creeping into my bedroom to sing me to sleep. I felt so alone for a moment, with people ahead and behind and me stuck in the middle. But then I looked at my kids, looking at me, with concern and wonder in their eyes and felt totally loved, forever.

I thought this article was going to be about kids being able to handle feelings. But, really, it’s about parents. We can handle feelings. We don’t have a choice. And our kids can help us by being understanding, and funny and naturally light-hearted, helping us get out of our bedraggled heads. 

After all the tears, and the lovely chats about the future, the next day my son looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and sang “I love you forever” to see if he could make me cry again. I looked straight at him and started laughing. Together, we flipped the page and I’m so proud.

Article Author Yasmine Abbasakoor
Yasmine Abbasakoor

Read more from Yasmine here.

Yasmine Abbasakoor was a television development executive before leaving to pursue her dream job of being a stay-at-home mum. After five years of living it up in the sandbox and laundry room, she’s ready to share her myriad of musings with the world once again. Connect with Yasmine in her kitchen (she’s the one standing behind the island) or on Linkedin.

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