I briefly, with what felt like utterly no success at all to me, tried the Three Day Novel challenge this holiday weekend. And I looked at my calendar for the next couple of weeks. And then I decided to spend a couple of hours just messing about on the internet. Because.
Anyway, I stumbled on this post on Mental Floss, about the best parents in fiction. With full understanding that clicking on something on Mental Floss is about like falling into the pit that is TV Tropes, I read it anyway. Parents in literature are definitely a soft spot for me. I deeply identified with Elizabeth Bennett as a young woman for a whole lot of reasons I'm sure my lovely parents would rather I not admit to. I loved books about orphans, and children who strike off and go their own direction.
I have parental issues. I was writing in something approaching a professional way for about five years before I realized I was worse than Disney. My characters almost never have parents. Generally, they've been dead quite a while. They were utterly unfit, they didn't care, I could keep going but you get the point. I realized if I ever got published I was probably going to have something to explain there. My dad's an avid reader, and my mother's been a psychiatric nurse since almost before that was actually a thing.
Here's the thing. I was a difficult child, for all of us I think. Oh, I didn't run off and drink or do drugs. I didn't get suspended from school or pick fights. I was shy, and withdrawn even with them. I don't think I ever actually liked to be touched, and I have trust issues that exist in my head so far back I'm not sure it's possible for them to be anybodies fault, even if those always worked that way. Which they don't.
I seriously doubt anyone who tells me they have a perfect relationship with their parents. How can you? We're not little seed-podlings. It's no different than roommates assigned by a computer. If your parents have done their jobs right you should disagree on all kinds of things, because you should have learned to think for yourself. And in doing that, since you didn't have their experiences growing up, all kinds of things have to change. If you're any age between 12 and 40 and you can't tell me one thing about your parents that drives you absolutely insane you're lying to someone. For your sake I hope it's just me.
So that list I linked to, of all the great parents in literature. It's a little idyllic for my taste. I like Mr Bennet, who is so engrossed in his books he misses things he really shouldn't and makes crappy decisions because they mean he gets peace. I even like Mrs Bennet, despite her drama and hysterical tendencies--in small doses. I like Narcissa Malfoy because let's all agree, without her Draco Malfoy would have turned out even more screwed up than he did.
Parents are people too, outside of their job as parents. They should be in fiction too.
ppssst. Come back Friday. We're talking about TIME TRAVEL.