Oh, potty training. Kids are amazing, full of life and potential. Watching a child develop their unique personality is one of the greatest journeys in life. My children mean the world to me. And, I have admitted before, Green Onion’s kryptonite has to be babies. But, man… they can be so disgusting. The nose picking, the endless farting, watching my daughter eat her pho with her hands, off the table, off her shirt, off her forehead, would be enough to turn anyone’s stomach. The most traumatizing experience of my parenting journey thus far, had to be potty training. With Zyler, I faced the daunting task alone, and for a grown man with a quick gag reflex, trust me, it was not pretty. I will spare you the gory details; I will say at one point I thought a poop monster had manifested in the bathroom and was slaughtered with a chainsaw… And the laundry! Ugh!
The experience is difficult for the sprouts, understanding with patience and positivity is key. To this point in their short lives everything they have learned has been natural, learning to walk, communicate, eat, sleep, have fun; then you tell them “oh yeah, you can’t just relieve yourself wherever you like any more. We use these alien looking bowls and flush it away to another dimension.” With every struggle children face in life, there’s a book for that. Or, hundreds of books. Who better to share that journey with then the legendary Canadian author, Robert Munsch.
If I haven’t made my admiration for Mr. Munsch clear yet please feel free to rewind to these reviews: Paper Bag Princess, Stephanie’s Ponytail, and check almost any kidlit top 10 list I have composed and he will be near the top, most recently in my Valentines Day post. As with all of Robert Munsch’s amazing library, Munsch himself shares the origin’s of the tale on his website. And, just like all the other books, I Have To Go! was originally improvised in front of an audience of children. The story, originally published in 1986 has a couple unique qualities from the rest of the authors bibliography. First, as usual the book has a dedication to the first child to hear the story, but this one includes a dedication to his own son, Andrew Munsch. Second, this is Mr. Munsch’s quickest publication, with a week separating its original inception, to being sold. Usually, Munsch prefers to refine his tales through years of multiple live retellings.
I Have To Go! is one of the most relatable for frustrated parents. As it features main character, Andrew, waiting for the most inopportune moments to express his need to go to the bathroom. Every parent knows the struggle of reminding their child multiple times to go pee before they leave the house, only to have them need to go as soon as you hit the road. This book is full of those memorable moments, like getting your child prepared in multiple layers to go outside, just to have to undress them again minutes later. And of course, the dreaded bed wetting. The finish to this book is a sweet moment though, when Andrew asks his grandfather if he needs to go, and the pair of them each go to the bathroom.
Along with Robert Munsch’s brilliant story telling, I Have To Go! features the art of Munsch’s long time illustrator Michael Martchenko. And as I think back, my love and admiration for Munsch has a lot to do with the memory of Martchenko’s connectable cover of this book on my own shelf as a child.
I do not think there is a Robert Munsch book that I wouldn’t recommend for any childs library. I Have To Go! is one of my personal favourites and one of the top five Munsch books I could recite from memory. 5/5 because it is what it is. I Have To Go! is wonderful for parents and may help kids understand the frustrations we go through during the terrible potty training stage. And, if it helps your child remember to go pee before they leave the house just one time, that’s so worth it.
Thanks booknerds, I suddenly have to go.