Lessons from Fictional Fathers

  1. It doesn’t matter if you were the worst father in Galactic history! You can still redeem all of that by throwing the evil Emperor down a reactor shaft before he can kill your son and destroy the Rebellion.
  2. Maybe you grew up estranged, but if the last thing your son said to you before walking out was to cast aspersions on your personal sports hero, a mysterious cosmic force might mess with his head in order to allow you to reconcile. (First it will make him do weird stuff like build a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield.)
  3. It’s OK to be a shadowy presence cutting an impressive figure on a distant hill, just as long as you’re ready to step up and take over when your kid’s mother is shot by a hunter.
  4. If a comet’s about to obliterate the world and there’s no hope for you, go wait on the seashore where you took your kid when she was young. She’ll come join you, before the end.
  5. But! If you’re one of the folks ON a comet that’s about to strike the earth, sacrifice yourself to blow it up! She’ll never forget you.
  6. Give your kid privacy and independence! Let him go out and have adventures in the wilderness while you work at your academic pursuits! Later in life, he just might show up to help you find the Holy Grail.
  7. Downplay when you are doing dangerous shit that would freak your kid out, like when you go to hunt a great white shark. Tell him you’re “going fishing”.
  8. Let your kid join Starfleet. His associates will be people of good character.
  9. When your youngest comes home all excited because he met a forest god who’s basically a giant teddy bear and she took a nap on him, take that seriously! Not every kid gets to meet a Totoro.
  10. Maybe the kid isn’t your actual son, but you’re the one who raises him, even though he doesn’t realize it for a long time. That other guy might have been his father, but he wasn’t the kid’s daddy.
  11. It’s not cool to be so open about having a preference between your two daughters. It’s also not cool to pit them against one another in combat. Eventually, both of them might team up with others to stop your jewelry-centric evil plan.
  12. Your kid may one day end up with that poor student you spent all of high school bullying as his teacher, and he may even end up depending on your poor victim to help in defeating the greatest evil wizard of all time, so…maybe don’t be a bully in high school.
  13. Drawing up your will? And you can’t decide which of your two sons should inherit the controlling shares of the oil company you founded? Maybe don’t set up a year-long contest between the two of them to see which deserves it. That shit will cause all kinds of grief for your family.
  14. Defer to your wife on your son’s middle name, if you’ve already decided his first. That means going with “Tiberius” if that’s what she wants.
  15. Look, it happens: Your eldest of three moves out early on, and you live with your other two for many years after. But when your youngest, your daughter, gets married, it’s kind of weird to talk about “your two beautiful children.”
  16. Seems kind of odd to insist on having a big den all to yourself when your house only has two bedrooms to accommodate the three sons you’re bringing to the marriage and the three daughters she is bringing.
  17. That plan your son has cooked up to impress a girl by learning to be a rock drummer in the space of five weeks? Go with it. Your kid’s dealing with some shit, and it just might work. (You’re dealing with some shit too, you know.)
  18. It’s OK if your son has a whole ton of hobbies that you don’t understand, like growing roses and cooking Jewish food, and that he doesn’t really understand you all that well. He’ll get the important stuff (like grilling with propane).
  19. Be creative with your catchphrases. Don’t just threaten to kick your son’s ass. Say things like “Your ass just hung out a Vacancy sign, and my foot’s lookin’ for a room!”
  20. Even as you try to hew out a simple life in your house on the prairie (which is surrounded by hills, strangely enough), you can absolutely have your perfect white teeth and your head of thick curly hair. (Oh, and maybe reconsider having your entire house be essentially one room. I assume you’ll want to occasionally “get friendly” with your wife, and consider that your daughters are trying to sleep in a loft about seven feet above your heads, to judge by the ladder they use to get up there.)
  21. Just because your son turned evil and wants to kill you is no reason to fly off and be a space loser.
  22. So your son’s best friend is a stuffed tiger. Find ways to encourage his imagination! (And stop telling him that everything in the world that sucks “builds character”.)
  23. After a traumatic event, move with your son to Seattle. But maybe get some therapy or something before he calls a radio talk show to discuss your problems.
  24. I know it’s tempting to go with the aliens! They planted the psychological visions in your head! It’s not your fault everyone thinks you’re crazy! But…maybe don’t abandon your family to go with the aliens.
  25. If your son comes of age and wishes to go off to Paris to find his fate and fortune with the King’s Musketeers, let him do so, with the blessing of a kiss–but also give him a horse and a sword.

Of course, some of these lessons are unlikely to be specifically applicable to the situations in which one might reasonably expect to find oneself, but you never do know, do you?



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