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Literature / Love You Forever

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

Love You Forever is the story of a mother and her son throughout the course of the boy's life; describing his exasperating behavior throughout his youth.

In spite of the aggravation caused by her son's behavior, the mother visits his bedroom every night to cradle him in her arms, and sing a lullaby promising to love him forever. She continues to do this even when he is a grown man, and has moved out of the house. Eventually, when she is old and sick, he picks her up and sings the same song to her. Then he goes home, and sings it to his own child.

Love You Forever, which has been making people cry since 1986, is a Canadian picture book written by Robert Munsch. Munsch wrote it after his two children died shortly after birth.

This book provides examples of:

  • Always a Child to Parent: The mother never changes the phrasing of "my baby you'll be" in the lullaby, even when her son has become a grown man who lives on his own. The son is implied to feel the same way too, singing the same song to her but rephrased to say "my mommy you'll be" as she lay dying.
  • Ambiguously Absent Parent: We never see the boy's dad, or the mother of his daughter that he cradles in the last page.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The mother's part of the story ends when she's "old and sick". There's a chance she'll recover, but the wording is so ambiguous that some people have interpreted it as meaning she died on page.
  • Babies Ever After: The book ends with the boy (now an adult) singing the song to his infant daughter.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Downplayed. The book ends with the man's daughter already born but still a "very new" baby, and the mother probably not dead yet, but dying.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: The son was like this for the majority of his childhood (flushing his mother's watch down the toilet and pulling things out of place as a toddler, and not bathing or coming home for dinner and swearing at his grandma at age nine), but it didn't stop his mother from singing the song to him every night.
  • Bookends:
    • The books begins with:
      A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she held him she sang 'I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.'
    • And ends with:
      Then he went into the room where his very new baby daughter was sleeping. He picked her up in his arms and rocked her, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and while he held her he sang 'I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.'
  • Cartoon Creature: When the teenage son is asleep, an animal can be seen on his bed with stubby legs, stripes, and a pointy snout. It's hard to tell if it's a cat or a dog, although the stripes and long tail imply it's a tabby cat.
  • Empty Nest: Even after the boy grows up and moves out, his mother will sometimes sneak into his house to hold him and sing the song.
  • Former Teen Rebel: The boy is rather messy and rebellious as a youngster and teenager, with "strange friends and strange clothes and strange music." He grows up to be a regular, well-adjusted man with a nice house and a child of his own.
  • Fun with Flushing: At age two, the boy flushes his mother's watch down the toilet.
  • Good Parents:
    • While the mother does want to sell him to the zoo when he gets on her nerves at age nine, she loves her son all his life and makes it very clear to him. When he has a daughter, though we don't see much of her, he seems to be a loving father, singing her to sleep.
  • Informed Attribute: The son is described as "great big" as a teenager and a grown man, but he seems to be about average size. It's implied that he's described this way because it's the way the mother sees him, compared to the tiny baby he used to be.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: As a teen, the man wore "strange clothes". The outfit we see him wearing is a large shirt with sunflowers on it, jeans, and ladies' shoes.
  • Jerk Jock: Implied for the boy when he's nine. He says bad words to his grandmother and he's seen wearing a baseball glove and holding a baseball, implying he's both athletic and rude.
  • Meaningful Echo: When the mother is old, and implied to be dying, her son picks her up and sings:
    I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my mommy you'll be.
  • Moment of Silence: When the son arrives home after his mother dies (or possibly when she's very close to death), he stands at the top of the stairway in silence for a long time. This is one reason readers interpret that the mother passed away.
  • Never Say "Die": It's pretty obvious that the mother is dying at the end, but the narration never says it directly.
  • No Name Given: Nobody in this story has a name.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The mother usually sings her song a lot, and when she doesn't finish it, it's a sign that she's seriously ill and probably dying.
  • One Last Song: Near the end, the now-adult son sings the song to his now-dying mother.
  • Parental Love Song: The "I'll Love you Forever" song is about how the woman will love her son no matter what. The son's verse is about how he'll always love her no matter what.
  • The Pig-Pen: When the boy was nine, he never wanted to take a bath.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: The son was a bit of a brat as a kid (pulling things out of place and flushing his mother's watch at two and swearing at his grandmother and not bathing or coming home for dinner at nine), but as a teen he doesn't do anything that bad except knock over a vase (which may have been an accident). As an adult, he's shown to be very nice, singing to both his mother and his daughter.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out if the man still hangs out with the "strange friends" he had as a teenager. His grandmother is never mentioned again either.