An excerpt from the very funny book Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us by Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo & Mary Ann Zoellner. Reprinted with permission by Abrams Image.
Worst Children’s Book: The Giving Tree vs. Love You Forever
Any mom who follows the parenting model of the protagonist in Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree is creating a monster. An entitled asshole who will expect the women in his life to allow themselves to be dismembered in the pursuit of his temporary happiness.
Mothers of sons: Remember, you are raising our daughters’ boyfriends and husbands. Please don’t let our girls hook up with a jerk who thinks he’s special because he does the dishes once a month. Put down The Giving Tree and pick up Curious George. If our daughters must get knocked up, let it be by a gentle animal lover who has a good job.
Mothers of daughters: Protest at any bookstore that sells this douchebag manifesto. Demand that it come with a warning label: “Reading this book may cause your son to expect someone else to fold his laundry for the rest of his single life.”
As bad as The Giving Tree is, it’s a thousand times better than Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever, a most deceptive children’s book. The cover looks harmless enough: a 2-year-old, raising hell in the bathroom. It starts fine, with Mother singing a sweet lullaby to her baby about loving him forever. Yup, done that. Now we witness the passage of time. Two pages later, Mother crawls into her young son’s bedroom and spies on him as he sleeps. Aside from the crawling, she is still in normal territory.
This continues as the boy turns 9. The reader is beginning to feel slightly uncomfortable. How long can Mother keep this up?
No need to wonder. Turn the page. Guess who just snuck into her teenage son’s bedroom for a late-night cuddle? Quick, call the police! A horrible Oedipal relationship is in the making. Everyone knows that when teenage boys go to bed, they don’t sleep. They masturbate. Relentlessly, all night long, until their fingers break off. Then they switch hands. Then they use their feet. Even zoo monkeys are appalled. Any mother who sneaks up on her teenage son when he thinks he is alone in the dark is going to be hit by cross fire.
(Tip: Stay out of your teenage son’s room until he goes to college. Then enter it with a power washer and safety goggles.)
Oh, the story’s not over. Instead of just embracing the empty nest, Mother takes to stalking her son and his new family. (The son’s wife, meanwhile, is nowhere to be found. He probably stabbed her to death, as he screamed over and over again, “Leave me alone, Mother!”) On the last page, Mother is presumed dead, and the son sings to his own baby.
Despite the insanity, you will be sobbing. Love You Forever reminds you that children get old, and so do their parents—but not before every possible emotional boundary is crossed.
Thanks, book! Let’s see ... It’s Tuesday night, you had a long day at work, and you got home late. You had a total of 45 minutes with your kid tonight, and the last five of it was a grim warning that everyone you love will die.
You won’t sleep tonight, and it won’t be because you’re masturbating.
Remember: Nobody dies in Goodnight Moon.
Image via Sh*tty Mom