I have a book in my house I’m dying to get rid of. But I can’t.
Scrote picked it up in the free bin and gave it to me for Mother’s Day several years back. He even signed his name in it. I know why he selected it, it’s about hippos and he loves hippos, and it only has two words: mama and baby. An eye tracking issue has made reading (until very recently) a challenge so the less words the better. The problem is that it has to be the most depressing book ever.
It starts with a baby hippo and his mama. They swim and play and snuggle and are in love. Then mama is swept away by a tsunami. Forever. How heavy is that? Baby searches the ocean until he is washed ashore and captured by men who puts him in a zoo. He follows around a tortoise and they bond while mama’s spirit watches over them. The end.
My best guess is that it is a story about adoption and resilience but oh geez. I don’t really want to have the conversation about “What if you die, mommy? Will someone come take us away? Is a total stranger going to be our mom?” I mean, that kind of thing happens (hopefully not to us) but I don’t want to deal with this before bed. Or ever.
I had forgotten all about it until Testy selected it for book time. Books have a way of getting lost in these parts and turning up years later. I took a quick glance at it and asked, “Why do you want me to read this book? It only has two words.” and Testy was like, “I want you to read it, it’s the saddest book ever.” and Scrote was like, “Yah, it’s the saddest book ever.” I was all, “Okaaaayyyy, you asked for it.” So I read it to the boys (more like I flipped through pages and cringed as the inevitable unfolded) and the boys sobbed and wailed. Wailed. Tears streaming down their faces. And I’m wondering, what’s with this desire to emote? Is life too easy for them? Is hardship such a novelty that they seek out sad stories? I could probably do something about that.
Testy has always been fascinated by adoption and parents dying. I think Zeb showed them Sophie’s Choice (not about adoption, I know, but it was so sad) when I wasn’t looking. Let’s face it, Disney is fascinated with orphans and most good adventures start with losing one’s family. Or more likely, he heard about a family in his school that adopted two children from Africa. The story was heartbreaking and I think it got to him. After that he made up a story about how his favorite stuffed animal’s parents died in the war and put him on the train and that’s how he came to live with us. Where does this come from?
Giving me this book was a terribly sweet gesture but I never want to read it again. I don’t want to deal with two boys wallowing in self-inflicted misery. If I wanted that, I would have had girls.
That said, I guess I’m keeping the book. I have to. But I’ll get rid of these books instead: