In honor of tonight’s episode of 24—as well as the sad news that this will be the series’s final season—I hearby offer 24 things that I’ve learned, as a parent, from 24‘s Jack Bauer. Yes, that Jack Baer: anti-terrorist agent, father of one, grandfather, sharpshooter, sexiest killer-stare in history. Adieu, 24, you will be missed.
1. Motherhood and anti-terrorism are alike in this way: wear comfortable shoes.
2. It’s okay to neglect your child as long as her life isn’t in danger, and as long as what you are doing could save the life of your entire nation.
3. Your kid doesn’t really need you. Jack barely spent time with his daughter Kim during her childhood, yet she’s grown into an accomplished, level-headed woman. Role models, schmole models.
4. Choose your clothes carefully each morning. You never know when you’re going to be stuck wearing that same pantsuit for an entire TV season. (parents, please note: I once got dressed on a Monday morning and, as a harried mom, didn’t have a chance to change my outfit until the following Thursday.)
5. Love is precious. But if you lose it, don’t worry. Just wait until next season, and it’ll come back, probably in the form of an up-and-coming actress playing an operative loosely associated with CTU.
6. For example, if your wife is killed as a result of your plot to save the U.S.A., don’t worry, you’ll find love again before the next season begins.
7. And after that new woman leaves you or is killed by an opposing terrorist, yet another love interest will materialize. Just in time for the next season to begin.
8. And after that woman loses track of you because you’ve gone into hiding, don’t worry, you’ll meet someone else. You’ll meet her while in hiding.
9. If a person (like, say, my stubborn son) has a defiant streak and doesn’t obey orders, sometimes you have to resort to torture. He may end up permanently disfigured as a result of that torture. But at least you’ll know where he hid the bomb. Or the sippy cup.
10. If you ever want to know where your child is, call CTU. They can pull up traffic cameras like that.
11. They can also help you locate your child using facial recognition technology, or by accessing the floorplans of every shopping mall in the country.
12. So how come I can never find my sunglasses?
13. Or my keys?
14. And which exit do I take from the Henry Hudson Parkway to get home?
15. This is a wonderful nation in which to bring up children. Just keep your kids away from the government. It’s full of backstabbing vice-presidents, scheming first-daughters, and really bad fashion.
16. Do these people never eat? Lesson 16: Stop saying, “There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done!” Cut out the eating, you’ll gain at least an hour.
17. Also, cut out the bathroom trips. And Twitter. Another hour (or five) will miraculously appear.
18. Seriously, if Jack can negotiate arms deals, take down mafia rings, save the entire city of L.A., and coddle the President in one 24-hour span, how come it takes you two weeks to fill out a preschool application?
19. Fire the nanny. Hire a Chloe. That woman gets things done.
20. I may be happily married, but I offer you this truth: CTU agents are hot.
21. Get your kids some computer training. The only character other than Jack who’s managed to come back as a regular, season after season, is Chloe, the computer tech. Apparently her skills are recession-proof.
22. Or, get your kids into TV production. This show has managed an eight-season run—extremely respectable for a concept that was considered risky at its outset.
23. Anger gets you nowhere. Jack is a bitter, angry man. Fox is giving him the boot.
24. When the network cancels your family, remember, you’ll always have the memories.
What will you miss most about 24?