“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”
Those words are iconic for a reason. “Love You Forever,” the beloved book by Canadian author Robert Munsch about a parent’s overwhelming love for their child, is a staple on children’s bookshelves around the world, Canada and beyond.
It’s also, if you happen to have read it recently, perhaps better understood as an allegory. Because one part of the story, lovely as it is, stretches credibility just a little.
The beginning, where the mom repeatedly tells her baby how much she loves him, even when he’s being super annoying? That’s adorable. The end, when the son is grown up and sings to his ill mother, and then to his own baby? Unspeakably moving. But it’s the middle — the part where the son is a grown adult living on his own, and the mom will occasionally sneak into his bedroom to check on him and sing him a lullaby — that’s kind of weird.
Enter “Topher Fixed It,” Atlanta-based playwright Topher Payne’s project to provide alternate endings to classic kids’ books that might inadvertently pass on some not altogether healthy ideas.
Payne is a big fan of Munsch’s original book, he told HuffPost Canada.
“It’s a beautiful story,” he said. “When the mother’s actions are taken metaphorically, it expresses a parent’s boundless love for their child, and the desire to nurture and offer affection at all stages of the child’s life.”
But when taken literally, it’s a bit iffy, to say the least — especially because of the implication that the son will repeat his mom’s slightly creepy behaviour.
“It sets up the cycle of behaviour repeating itself in the end,” Payne said. “Clearly the son is inheriting his mother’s routine, and presumably her ladder. That’s just chilling.”