Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

Welcome to my first Father's Day!
There is a group effort post over at The Blog Fathers (mine's the last one - the anchor, if you will), so go check it out.. they're all great posts.
In honor of Father's Day, I'm posting a piece that I wrote earlier in How About Two?'s life -
Anakin Skywalker For Father of the Year?
Okay, maybe not. Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader, will never get the nod for FotY. Vader was a little heavy with the corporal punishment; he cut his own son’s arm off, after all.
But could he have been in the running for FotY?

Maybe. If only things had been a little different…*
Let’s say instead of sending Luke to live the life of a moisture farmer with his aunt and uncle on Tattooine (surely a fate worse than death), they give Luke to Vader and Leia to Bail Organa in a sort of nature vs. nurture test (after all, it was a long time ago in a galaxy far away).
So now Luke is raised in the shadow of the Empire, during its ascent, brought up learning the ‘family business,’ so to speak.
In this alternate Star Wars universe, Luke is no longer a whiney bad actor Jedi Academy wannabe; rather, he is a strong leader-type who is smarter (and possibly more ambitious) than his father. [ed. note: It is this writer’s opinion that Vader was nothing more than Emperor Palpatine’s muscle. Disagree if you must.]
Obviously, the Emperor won’t live forever and he needs a ‘second’ to follow in his footsteps. Who better than the first born male of his number one strong arm?
A couple of years go by, maybe a decade, and Luke goes by Emperor Skywalker.
Now who’s Father of the Year?
Of course Vader might still have been an absentee father. Then Luke is just a spoiled kid who gets everything he wants ‘cause his dad will do the Jedi mind choke on you if you refuse him something.
I guess we’ll never know what kind of a father Anakin would have been. And until recently, I thought my being a father was going to be relegated to the alternate universe file.
But suddenly I too, will be the father of twins and, barring any disfiguring lightsaber fights on a river of lava, I won’t be an absentee dad.
But what kind of a father will I be?
I guess that no one ever says, “You know what? I want my child to be really spoiled. I want kids that will throw a leg-kicking, breath-holding, arm-flailing hissy fit because they can’t have a pony.”
Like everyone else, well-adjusted and well-mannered children are the goal.
So how do you make that happen?
As I have said in past posts, today’s fathering is different. We have almost no experience to base it on – other than what we see around us.
That is not to say that we can’t base our parenting on our personal experiences with our own father figures. But just as our fathers’ father-child relationship was different when they were on the child side, so was ours.
So what’s a father-to-be to do?
While I am a big believer in reading what experts have written (I firmly believe there is nothing I cannot do given the right set of instructions, including, but not limited to, being a father), I am also equally convinced that every child is different. That, and the old expression of “Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.” A quote from the oft maligned twentieth-century journalist, satirist, social critic, cynic, curmudgeon, and freethinker, H.L. Mencken (1880-1956).
My heart and soul will be in the effort. I will…
…attend school recitals
…go to games
…practice right from wrong (not just preach)
…take off the training wheels when they are ready (whether they think they are or not)
…kiss the booboos
…laugh with them when they are happy
…cry with them when they are hurt
…let them fly on their own (whether I think they should or not)
And give them all the love and attention they need to grow.

*I swear I am not a ‘fan fiction’ writer and I do not have a closet full of completed Star Wars alternate universe novels. Unless you know someone at LucasArts and they would be interested in the treatment…