Guess How Much I Love You: or, does everything have to be a contest?
So, I just wrote about my all-time favorite board books, and now I'm writing about one that just annoys the shit out of me.
I feel like I should like Guess How Much I Love You. It's exactly the kind of book I want to like. I am a sap, pure and simple and most children's books that have the phrase "love you" in the title win me over, no matter how saccharine they are. Love You Forever, for instance? My kids make me read that book to them just because they enjoy watching me sob like a baby. It's the watch-Mommy-cry-weirdly-hard show. I can't even think about it without starting to well up. You Are My I Love You? Love it. "You are my London Bridge, I am your falling down?" Yes. Bam. Give me more. I don't know what the hell it means and I don't even care.
But Guess How Much I Love You just gets under my skin. First of all, there are way too many words. The author could halve his word count and I think it'd be just right. Also, maybe it's because I'm a city kid but I am not a big fan of Little Nutbrown Hare. Blegh. His name has this gross pastoral cuteness factor that I scheeve. Either Little Hare or Nutbrown Hare would work, but throw in both and it's just adorable overload and it backfires.
But my real point of contention is that the whole book is basically about how the dad wants to one-up his kid by proving how he will always and everywhere love him MORE. It pisses me off. I'm not a moron so I get that it's a game and I get that Little (shudder) Nutbrown So-and-So loves it and I'm happy for him and all the simple-minded rabbits at there that are just so easygoing they don't know when they're being insulted. You know, when I stop to think about it, I don't think I would have minded the entire conceit of the book had the father just LET HIM WIN AT THE END. When the poor kid, exhausted by the mammoth effort of trying to out do his father, finally succumbs to sleep after saying "I love you right up to the moon" his dad could have just smiled and kissed the kid goodnight and watched True Detective or some shit. But instead, he can't tolerate not having the last fucking word so he has to sneak in. "I love you right up to the moon and back." It's like, "Dude. Get a grip. Everything is not a contest."
Hey, I know. It's a beloved children's book. But I had to say my peace. That's why I have a blog, after all.
Nicole is a parenting writer who contributes essays and articles for magazines like Parenting, Parents, American Baby and Babble. She lives in Brooklyn with three children, one husband and a morbidly obese goldfish.