I know the symptoms. A dull ache in the vicinity of the heart. Fitful dreams involving imps and dragons. A tinny echo resembling the clanging of swords.
Here’s your diagnosis: “Game of Thrones” withdrawal. Yep. I’ve got it, too.
If it gets any worse, I’m going to have to break down and read the damn books. I’ve only read the first, and though George R.R. Martin’s storytelling rocks, I confess I love the TV series even more—so much that I prefer not knowing what happens next.
If I could wave a wand and produce Series 4 for you right now, I would. In lieu of me acquiring such dark magic, here’s my post on NYTimes.com’s Motherlode on what I learned about parenting from GoT.
Sunday, June 9, 2013: As we have every other Sunday these recent months, tonight my husband and I will tuck in our two little girls, kiss their sweet faces goodnight, then rush downstairs to watch men and women get slaughtered.
I speak of course of “Game of Thrones,” the wildly popular HBO series set in a mythical land resembling medieval England, except with dragons. Based on the blockbuster books by George R.R. Martin, the show is bloody with battle, sticky with sex and just plain awesome.
But let it not be said that “Game of Thrones” holds no educational value for parents! I’ve gleaned many a lesson from the show’s insanely dysfunctional families—mainly in what not to do when attempting to raise a non-rapist, non-murderer person.
Here, in tribute to the Season 3 finale, are five parenting tips from “Game of Thrones”:
1. When it comes to your child’s safety, never let your own agenda cloud your judgment. In the infamous penultimate episode that aired last Sunday, Robb Stark asks his mother Catelyn if he should pay a visit to Lord Walder Frey. Robb had betrayed Frey by marrying Talisa instead of one of Frey’s homely daughters, as agreed. But now Robb needs Frey’s army to battle the king. Catelyn wavers. She knows how treacherous a man Frey is and how dangerous such a mission will be. But then her thirst for vengeance on the king’s clan takes over. “Show them how it feels to lose what they love,” she counsels. Oh, Mom. Terrible advice!
2. When pregnant, it is ill-advised to attend weddings populated by heavily armed men. In the same Episode 9, Robb and Talisa attend the wedding of Robb’s uncle to one of Frey’s daughters, a gesture meant to secure peace between the families. Every single guest carries a weapon. One wears chain mail under his garb. Yet Robb and Talisa eat and drink merrily (these being fictional times, let’s just assume preggo ladies can imbibe). Suddenly, the music stops. The arrows fly. The knives slice and dice. And everybody wishes Talisa would have stayed back in the war tent, singing lullabies to the heir in her belly.
3. Teach girls to fight and boys to run away. When we first meet the noble Stark clan in Season 1, mom Catelyn is exasperated that her younger daughter Arya is more interested in bows and arrows and sword fights than in embroidery. Now we’re wrapping up Season 3, and guess who’s still alive? That’s right—our little fighter girl. Meantime elder daughter Sansa, the obedient beauty, is stuck in King’s Landing, a pawn in other people’s schemes. As for the boys, Robb’s dead (see Tip 1). Still alive are Jon Snow, the bastard, who survived the decimation of the Night’s Watch by defecting to the Wildlings—then survives again but running away from the Wildlings once they get back south of the Wall. Also still alive are Bran and Rickon. Granted, Bran’s not using his own paralyzed legs to run. But his wits are keeping his little band of escapees alive—at least for now. Sensing a theme here?
4. Don’t live your dreams through your children. “Dance Moms,” meet Cersei Lannister. We haven’t seen as much of Cersei in Season 3, and that might be because her power as the king’s mother has evaporated. But that’s what happens when you invest all your hopes and ambitions in your precious offspring, who happens to be a monster: the monster eventually grows up, gets engaged to a devious harlot, and stops listening to your own manipulative advice. Along those lines…
5. Avoid siring children with your sibling. King Joffrey is the product of Cersei’s incestuous relationship with her brother Jaime. Which of course means Joffrey is not the rightful heir to the throne, as he shares no blood with the late Robert Baratheon, the former king and his supposed father. This poses a political problem for the Lannister clan if ever this should be proven, but that’s probably difficult in a mythical land with no DNA labs. Even in Westeros, however, the laws of genetics seem to apply in that the brother-sister mating has produced in Joffrey a cruel freak of nature. Also? Jaime’s never around to give Cersei a hand in raising their little jerk. What do you call a deadbeat uncle-dad? A duncle?
So here we are, facing the end of Season 3. What marvelous parenting tips will the season finale offer? I, for one, will be ready with pencil and paper.