I took Josie to the playground the other day. She delights in climbing on and over the various playground structures, and has recently been doing a lot of independent creative play in this way. She wanted me to play with her, so I happily obliged.

I try to fight the Princess Industrial Complex that maligns young girls today, so I try to introduce gender neutral play elements whenever I can. In this instance, I suggested to Josie that she and I were astronauts on a mission to Mars. She immediately jumped to the helm and started piloting our ship.

I shouted “Oh no, the engine blew out! We’re stranded in space!”

Josie said “Don’t worry dad, I’ll fix it.” She then went to the imaginary airlock, donned an imaginary space suit, secured an imaginary helmet, affixed an imaginary tether, and then went out into deep space to fix the engine!

I stood agape as I watched my four year old daughter perform these tasks in the correct order. We’ve never talked about why astronauts wear space suits, let alone use a tether. Although I’ve watched a number of Nova and NASA TV episodes with her, I don’t recall ever seeing an actual EVA documented such that she’d learn the importance of a tether; yet she knew to wear one so that she wouldn’t float away!

I was a very proud parent that day.

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