The other day, my son was complaining because I forgot to wash the shirt he wanted to wear to school. I'm sure it felt like a big deal to him and full disclosure, the shirt makes him look extra handsome, but part of me was like, "Seriously? You're complaining about shirts? Arya Stark is — spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones Season 5 — blind, kid! Learn to deal, why don't you?" That's the thing about growing up in Westeros, there are so many things Game of Thrones kids do that no normal kid would ever do. Their life is a constant struggle without all the playdates and presents our soft kids are taking for granted. Like, when was the last time we saw little Rickon Stark playing on the swings or getting dropped off to Kindermusic? When was the last time we saw Rickon Stark at all, come to think of it?
Childhood is short-lived on Game of Thrones, and I don't even think they really celebrate birthdays unless you're the boy King Joffrey. In fact, one of the only scenes I remember where kids got to sort of act like kids was the very first episode at Winterfell, the last time we saw the Stark family all together. Admittedly, even then they were shooting off dangerous weapons and Bran was forced to watch his father kill a member of the Night's Watch who had fled The Wall, but mostly it seemed alright.
Hold this list of things the Game of Thrones kids have had to do close to your hearts, moms and dads. So that the next time one of your kids complains because you bought the wrong flavor of ice cream, you can say, "Well, you could be like Bran Stark, did you ever think about that?"
Sword Play Means One Of Them Will Die
See, when you're a normal kid you make yourself a little cardboard sword and swat around in the air with your pals, a perfect mix of wholesome swashbuckling. But if you want to play with swords on Game of Thrones, as the poor butcher's boy Mycah learned, you're going to get killed. Plus someone's pet will get killed and the King and Queen will be sort of jerks about the whole thing... it hardly seems worth it.
They Get Tossed Off Towers
Now, we all know that little Brandon Stark shouldn't have been climbing up that tall tower (his mother Catelyn told him with the very same indulgent, exasperated smile I use when one of my kids rides his bike without a helmet). But the kid did, boys will be boys and all that, and he saw twins Jaime and Cersei getting it on — remember when that was the weirdest thing about the show? — and got thrown from the window. Bran lived, as we know, and he can't walk, but he can control animals and people who aren't super smart with his warg powers, so I guess it all worked out in the end.
Exploring The Countryside Is A Whole Different Ballgame
Nature hikes are a great way to bond with your kids, within reason. When you are a child living in the Seven Kingdoms, sometimes your jaunt through the countryside looks more like, oh I don't know, fleeing your home, escaping the clutches of Queen Cersei, or trying to make your way to The Wall. And I've noticed nobody packs water bottles, trail mix, or sunscreen. So it must be pretty awful.
They Need To Have Their Drinks Checked For Poison
Oh, Joffrey. Didn't we tell you to play nice?
The Girls Get Married Off To Savages
Remember, Daenerys was technically only 13 when she was married off to Khal Drogo, if you followed the books. Also remember, Sansa Stark has been auctioned off to two savages of a different breed — Joffrey Baratheon and Ramsay Bolton. The difference being that Daenerys managed to turn her rapist into a good guy, while Sansa Stark's luck just seems to get worse and worse.
Watching People Get Beheaded Is No Big Thing
Even your own dad. Also, since there is no television, it seems that people bring their kids to beheading for entertainment. Like they sit them down in front of a public beheading so they can just get some laundry done or drink a cup of tea in peace for five minutes.
They Get Sold Off To Pay Debts
I know, Theon Greyjoy is not a popular fella with anyone these days (though I sense his luck might be about to change in Season 6) but he was essentially sold off to the Stark family as payment for the Greyjoy family's part in the war against King Robert. So basically it's like, I got into a big fight with my neighbor over our hedges and lost. Now they get to keep Jeremy.
Sometimes They Are Burned At The Stake
Word to the wise, young girls — if your dad wants to be king and is heading off to war, make yourself scarce. Look at poor, sweet Shireen Baratheon, still one of the kindest people in Westeros despite her little greyscale problem. Once he starts losing, he's going to start weighing his options, especially with the Red Woman flashing her bits in his face ever five seconds (I swear, I have seen that woman's breasts more than I've seen my own).
They Can't Play Outside Because Dragons
And you thought letting your kids play outside in the snow was risky.
If They're Not Born Perfect, They Might Get Tossed In The Sea
Tywin Lannister has been smugly patting himself on the back for Tyrion's entire life because he chose not to throw him in the ocean. Because on Game of Thrones, that is a perfectly viable option. Baby born with an extra finger? Ocean. Baby who looks too much like some relative you don't like? Ocean.
They Murder The Best. Person. Ever.
I will never, for the rest of my days, forgive Olly. I am sorry his parents were killed in front of him by the Wildlings (plus everyone else he knew) but Jon Snow didn't do it, Olly! How could you? How. Could. You?
I bet you're all feeling like your kids have it pretty easy now, right?