Backpack Parenting

Fall 2015

Last Laugh

BY JILL BRUCKNER

Some things are universally cool, like finding “flowing” water on Mars, or watching a lunar eclipse. Both very awesome. On the other hand, having a cool career, like, oh, I don’t know, astronaut, would be wondrous, but ever-so-scary.

That’s why I’m encouraging my kids to choose a nice, safe profession close to home, like computer programmer or accountant. No surprises, no danger, just a quiet cubicle, lots of keyboarding and maybe some spreadsheets.

Of course, you might think this sounds a bit over protective. But my safe-from-harm kids won’t be without variety and stimulus. Certainly not! Like their cautious cubicle mates (all the products of responsible upbringings) my kiddos will have a lunch break now and then (at their benign and danger-free desks), where they are protected from accidents—such as falling pianos or streams of marbles cascading across the floor—unless they work in a marble factory, which they will not. Hello! Marbles equal danger!

Also any talk about astronauting, or a mission to Mars, will be immediately squashed. Mars is very, very far away, like, in outer space, where there are no cubicles (and, also no marbles, which is a plus, come to think of it), and no chance for me to ac-company my brilliant children on their so-called missions.

Forget helicopter parenting. That’s too distant for me. I am going for backpack parenting: Just strap me on and take me with for heaven’s sake. They’ll need a larger cubicle, but I’m pretty confident I can also fit under their desk—after they get me carried in past their understanding boss.

Yes, yes, I know this strategy might cut into my own career a bit (OK, a lot); but how else will I ensure they’re protected? That’s my job!

On the other hand, maybe my kiddos and I should all apply for jobs with NASA.

In fact, I like NASA’s application process already, where, “the NASA STARS system uses advanced artificial intelligence technology to electronically evaluate candidates. This replaces the cumber-some manual review of applications with state-of-the art technology.”

Yay! Resume-reading robots! I totally hope, if selected by a “state-of-the-art” robot to interview, I can impress NASA with my back-pack-parenting skills and Mars knowledge, which includes such things as, “Mars, wow, I bet it’s pretty hot up there,” and “Oooooooh, I like the shiny helmet on the astronaut suit.”

Also, I’d like to meet this resume-gathering robot and hang out with him for an afternoon, maybe go for a ride on a carousel or show him how to do a little (very safe) origami.

I’m pretty sure getting to know the NASA robot will be loads of fun, because NASA also pointed out: “With current technology, our robotic missions usually take about eight months to travel to Mars.” This means NASA’s robots are very, very patient, and that, my friends, is a virtue.

Then again, I could just skip the NASA interview process and buy a nice robot of my own, one that could pal around with my safety-conscious kids and ensure they’re en-joying lunch in their cubicle while I scour eBay for an astronaut helmet and a rocket ship—a very safe rocket ship, with room for a backpack.

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