POP CULTURE | Father Knows Best | Spend a few minutes with Chris Sweeney
This is an early conversation between Polonius, the king’s advisor, and his son, Laertes, from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Hamlet is THE play about fathers and sons. Not only does Hamlet have to contend with a regicidal uncle as his stepfather, but he’s also got his dad’s ghost pressuring him to avenge his death. Then, you have Polonius trying to raise Laertes and a daughter, Ophelia.
Polonius, a successful advisor to two kings, can’t get his son to even listen to him. As Laertes tries to leave for France, Polonius chases after him with reams of ignored advice. I imagine Laertes rolling his eyes, putting in his earbuds and turning up the volume.
A boy becomes an expert in all things by the time he is eight years old. I recall an argument with my son about whether the Blue Whale was the largest animal that has ever lived. He insisted that the largest was some dinosaur a neighbourhood boy apparently knew about. I dug up a reference book that substantiated my claim. My son was still doubtful – who wrote the book?
It drives me crazy. What ever happened to ‘father knows best’?
But in Hamlet, fathers do give some questionable guidance. One dead father/king pressures Hamlet to kill his uncle. Another, Polonius. advises his daughter to spurn her lover, Hamlet. Alas, when she and Hamlet follow their fathers’ advice, they both end up dead. Thanks, Dad. When we jump in with our opinion we often don’t have all the facts to offer good and helpful advice. So shut up and wait to be asked.
Maybe asking fathers to stop offering advice is futile, but you can always adopt my policy: Give unsolicited advice, wait for them not to follow it and then say, “Daddy’s right again.” It drives them crazy.
Christopher Sweeney is a chauffeur, short order cook, quartermaster, frontline medic, and laundryman – i.e. a Stay-at-home Dad. He is also a graphic novelist, screenwriter, lawyer and University lecturer.
Check out more Pop Culture pieces on my blog: popculture-superdad.blogspot.com