'Mama, do you love me?' Editor's note: A child living in the Arctic learns that a mother's love is unconditional.

Story Time

October 18, 1998|By Barbara M. Joosse

Mama, do you love me?

Yes I do, Dear One.

How much?

I love you more than the raven loves his treasure, more than the dog loves his tail, more than the whale loves his spout.

How long?

I'll love you until the umiak flies into the darkness, till the stars turn to fish in the sky, and the puffin howls at the moon.

Mama,what if I carried our eggs - our ptarmigan eggs! - and tried to be careful, and I tried to walk slowly, but I fell and the eggs broke?

Then I would be sorry. But still, I would love you.

What if I put salmon in your parka, ermine in your mittens, and lemmings in your mukluks?

Then I would be angry.

What if I threw water at our lamp?

Then, Dear One, I would be very angry. But still, I would love you.

What if I ran away?

Then I would be worried.

What if I stayed away and sang with the wolves and slept in a cave?

Then, Dear One, I would be very sad.

But still, I would love you.

What if I turned into a musk-ox?

Then I would be surprised.

What if I turned into a walrus?

Then I would be surprised and a little scared.

What if I turned into a polar bear, and I was the meanest bear you ever saw and I had sharp, shiny teeth, and I chased you into your tent and you cried?

Then I would be very surprised and very scared. But still, inside the bear, you would be you, and I would love you.

I will love you, forever and for always, because you are my Dear One.

Excerpted from "MAMA, DO YOU LOVE ME?" written by Barbara M. Joosse and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee 1991. Published by Chronicle Books.

Pub Date: 10/18/98

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