The book, Guess How Much I Love You, written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram, is widely accepted as a children’s classic, deservedly so. However, you might be surprised to know that the book was first published in 1994 (1995 in the United States), and not, contrary to the tug of heartstrings and nostalgia that it evokes, sometime prior to your own childhood years (actual childhood years may vary).
I don’t remember the first time that I read the story, because I feel like it has always been there — which I mean in a timeless, nicest sort of way, but I do recall reading it for the first time as a father. The book was, and still is, one of very few mainstream stories willing to showcase the love between a father and a son in an openly sentimental and tender manner. That’s not to say that it doesn’t resonate with everyone, it is too good not to, but being a new dad and reading about a love to the moon and back with a little boy snuggled warm against you? That leaves a mark.
And so it was that the boys and I were sprawled across the couch, enjoying the settle of our early morning haze, when we turned the TV to the newly added Disney Junior channel and found a certain Little Nutbrown Hare talking to his dad about life, love, and guesses.
Apparently Guess How Much I Love You — The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare is a relatively new show on the relatively new network, and much like the book, which is also relatively new in terms of all things considered classic, it is simple, sweet, and straight to the heart.
I’d like to point out that nobody asked me to write about Guess How Much I Love You, the show or the book, nor did they ask me to write about Disney Junior. However, I was asked to write about the wonder (and not so wonderful) of fatherhood, and perhaps more than any other dad on television, Big Nutbrown Hare gets it.
I like to think that I am fairly patient, sometimes wise, and usually understanding when it comes to the raising of my children, but the reality is that I’m as likely to answer repeated questions with deflections and excuses as I am to embrace them with empathy and enthusiasm. There is a lot to be said for timing.
Not Big Nutbrown Hare. When his son asks him about the proverbial this and that, he doesn’t respond with “because I said so” or “ask your mother” cop outs, but with soft kindness and invitations for exploration that lead Little Nutbrown Hare to his own discoveries.
Basically, Big Nutbrown Hare is making me look bad.
However, rather than make excuses or justifications for the opportunities that I have missed, I am choosing to be inspired by his example, and I am trying to make the most of moments that will one day be left behind. Someday the questions will surely stop, and I will have nothing but bushels of time and boxes full of answers, but the meantime spreads like wildflowers — and my children will never need to guess how much I love them.
Illustration by Antia Jeram from the book Guess How Much I Love You
Read more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).
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