Monday, July 17, 2006

Love you Forever... or until mommy DIES!


I must be one cold-hearted, non feeling bitty. My sis in law gave me a bedtime story book as a gift for baby #2. She says she cries every time she reads it. Matter of fact, she almost started crying telling me she cries when she reads it. I'm thinking, wow, this must be a good book. Never could I have been more wrong. The book in question is apparently a "classic" (for the life of me can't figure out why) that's been around since 1945. How did I go this long without knowing about it I'll never know but I am so relieved it was never read to me when I was an impressionable child. The title of the book? "Love you Forever".


The story starts out ok, very sweet actually... but then it get's weird fast. Starts with a mother and her young infant son. After he's sleeping she crawls across the floor and then rocks him singing a lullaby. As the boy ages and starts to do bad things the mother continues to crawl across the floor, when he's nine he starts swearing in front of grandma (the little punk), when he's a teenager he smells and eats pizza, still she's crawling. Here's the ringer, now he's grown up, an adult who moves out on his own. Late in the middle of the night the mother straps a ladder to the roof of the station wagon, drives across town, breaks in through a window, CRAWLS across the floor and rocks her full grown son singing him that same creepy lullaby.

"I love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be".

Shortly after that, she's too old and decrepit to go stalking, so the son comes and rocks her, calling her "mommy" in the song instead of baby. Then, she dies. The man then goes in and sings the same song to his infant daughter.

Now the people that LOVE this book say it's a story of a mother's never ending unconditional love. Other people who detest the book find it creepy that she's stalking and rocking a full grown son. Here's my problem with the book. WHY IS SHE CRAWLING?? Maybe when the baby is tiny, you might crawl so they don't see you, but then you drive across town, breaking and entering into your grown sons' house... and still you crawl across the floor? If she can handle a stick shift and a ladder, she's obviously capable of walking. And the sing-song refrain is odd too.. 'as long as I'm living'... that's a nice thought to put in a kid's head right before bed. Hey, Susie, we're all mortal, oh yeah, and mommy will DIE one day... sweet dreams?That's nice.

What's with all this morbid stuff for kids anyway? Grim fairy tales, Ring around the Roses (about the plague), Rock-a-bye-baby (nice lullaby about an infant falling out of tree), and other stories and songs from the past that have death, dying, and maiming as the underlying theme? When you've got this beautiful, tiny child in your arms, the last thing I want to do is remind them life sucks and I'm gonna die. This world's a wacky place, let's try to keep the children loved and safe as long as possible. Oh yeah, and whatever you do, don't read them this book.

2 comments:

boo_who said...

A lesser known and utterly unimportant factoid: Grimm's fairy tales were not originally written down for children. Good old Jacob and Wilhelm were collecting the tales for "academic" reasons -- their stated purpose was to preserve these stories as authentic German oral tradition (which is kind of funny because some of their sources were fudged a bit, and many of the stories were actually French).

But then something happened: the book they wrote became popular with children, who apparently loved the stories. Parents started buying Grimm's Fairy Tales, and sales did what passed for skyrocketing in the period. The Grimms were suddenly successful.

But some parents objected to references to sexuality and bodily functions, so the Grimms decided to edit the stories to eliminate such tasty tidbets as Rapunzel noticing that her clothes were getting really tight (wink wink) after a few meetings with her hair climbing Lothario. In subsequent editions, they removed a lot of what they thought might be offensive to parents (including references to belching and pooping).

At the same time, they added a lot more of something else: violence. Why? Because they recognized the unfortunate truth that violence sells and decided to capitalize on it. In short, if they were going to take farting away from the kids, they could at least give them more blood and death.

It worked. Parents didn't like the flatulence, but they didn't mind Cinderella's stepmother cutting off one daughter's heel and the other's toes and jamming their bloody (and apparently fat) feet into Cinderella's slipper to trick the prince.

Oh yeah, these tales are a real treat for the kiddies. "Some mommies send their kids into the woods to starve or hack off their toes -- so don't tick me off!!!"

Note: When I found out about the editing, I was so relieved. As a kid, I was always a little confused how Rapunzel ended up with twins out there in the desert by herself (and no stork within miles, either).

Denn said...

The book is too strange for me. For all the moms who love this book, would it still have the same effect if the daddy at the end continued the whole tradition throughout his daughter's life? A grown man crawling into his daughter's room to cuddle her... even when she's grown and living on her own???

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