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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Sleep Is
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Chicago Review Press

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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To the moon!

My dad visited Henry's class on Wednesday afternoon, to talk about his days as an astronaut.

All right, actually he was an engineer at Grumman Aerospace, where he worked on the design of the lunar module. Among other things. I am unclear as to what he did. Only I know it was impressive!

"You know," I told him, "You could have just said you were an astronaut. They were ready and willing to believe whatever you told them."

"Right," he laughed, and gave me that look. That do you mean it? I think you mean it, Alice, you nut, what kind of values did I teach you look.

"'It's Henry's grandpa, Buzz Aldrin!'"


Anyway, because Henry's grandpa built something (or designed something, WHATEVER) that made it to the moon, he was as good as an astronaut to these kids. They were in awe. "I like your glasses," one of them said, as soon as he walked in. "You look cool," another kid observed.


My favorite thing about visiting Henry's classroom is that the kids act like you're a celebrity. An adult, in our midst! But--but you're not normally here! Can I get your autograph?

Anyway, my dad told them all about the design of the lunar module, sometimes in more detail than I thought they could comprehend, but damned if they didn't eat it up.


Plus he had a cool model. That our household is going to get, one of these days. My parents have it in their basement. Their basement! That thing deserves a display case.


The kids were scandalized at the fact that the astronauts had to leave detritus on the moon. "That's littering," was the collective murmur. "And someday the moon-people will come to our planet and steal our children in order to get their revenge," I whispered to the back row of kids. (No I didn't.)

Showing various launch photos

One question no one asked: where did the astronauts go to the bathroom? Scott, my mom, and I were all standing in the back, waiting for that one. But alas.

"Could you imagine," I said later, "what would have happened if you had told them that astronauts wear diapers? Chaos! They would have had to end the day early!"

My mom sighed. "I knew I should have asked it. I was going to," she said.

"I would have told them that there was a special porthole built into the shuttle, out of which the astronauts could stick their butts," I said.

My dad just shook his head. It's not easy, being the smartest person in this family.

Reader Comments (57)

I think there *should* be a special porthole for astronauts to stick their butts out of! Although I suppose you'd have to make sure it was all vacuum sealed around your butt, and any carelessness would be disastrous, and, and, and...

I know the kids thought he was a celebrity and told their parents all about the big visit!
March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLemon Gloria
More awesome than Shakespeare.
March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
That is, at the risk of repetition, so very very cool!!

My mother was on the faculty of, and ran the pathology labs at, [Big Name You Woud Recognize But I Haven't Cleared It With Her To Mention] Medical Center for 30 years. She was actively involved in the development of the polio vaccine, the measles vaccine, interferon, and more, and her labs were working on researching AIDS and breast cancer treatments when she retired. She worked side by side with a Nobel Prize winner. She's been published in medical journals so many times I give up and quit scrolling through the Google results after about 5 pages.

But when she came home, she was just Mom. I was 21 before I asked her what she did at work and, when she told me, then showed me, it blew my mind. How could she do that for so long and never talk about it? "Work is for work, and home is for home."

So, hopefully, some of the kids in Henry's class will have learned, as a side benefit, that there may be waaaay more cool to "old" people than first meets the eye!
March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJan
I don't mean little in an actual concrete sense of "diminutive in size". More in a "precious" kind of way.

I'm always up for a tipsy discussion of German literature. (The hugging bit is non-negotiable, though.)
March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiss B
What an awesome post. I love it!
March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSue
I'll bet your dad got a lot of mileage out of that "To the moon, Alice," line when you were a kid.
March 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterheyjoe
My dad also worked for Grumman, and McDonnell Douglas, as a aerospace engineer in the sixties and seventies. God, what a fabulous time to grow up in Florida watching rockets while playing on the beach! I think I'd just cry if we ever gave up on the space program.
March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnEmily
delightful! my dad dated a rockette before he married my mom. that's all i've got.
March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith
ahhahahahahahhhahahaha oh dear dear dear.... this is the funniest post i've ever read. thank you thank you!
March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
Your Dad is so lovely!

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFinola
Oh what a treasure to have someone like that come to talk to kids! I'm jealous! And that model is amazing.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAdrienne Breaux
Gah Mr Bradley, what are you? Some kind of rocket scientist? Oh yeah you are......

I love the last picture because it looks like the teacher is saying, "You littered ON THE MOON?"

How proud Henry must have been, I love that. (Also yes every time I chaperone or work at school I feel like a celebrity...except that I want to punch a couple of kids in the nose. My God.)

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermelissa
Your dad is awesome!!! I want him to come visit my class (um, of EMBA students).
March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlyce
Alice--thanks for the lovely, kind, tender and hilarious post. It is just what I needed after a long day
March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
My dad worked as an engineer for the space program at Lockheed. Geez, do all dads work on the space program at some point?
March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathy
This story is 100% awesome. Everything about it. Love it. :)
March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
Well? When is Bring Your MommyBlogger Mother to School Day? You can entertain them with how you ignore your child in the name of corporate-sponsored entertainment, when you're not off eating kittens and boycotting the elderly.

(Good thing I don't subscribe to the New York Times. Because I would totally have to, you know, unsubscribe.)
Your dad is awesome. It's incredible to think that he was actually part of the moon landing; what an amazing thing to get to talk to kids about! And he's adorable in that tiny chair. Add in the image of him drinking Johnny Walker and discussing German literature (in the classroom surrounded by the little kids in my imagination, for some reason), and he's just the coolest person ever.
March 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKendra
Absolutely adorable. All of you. The T.V. family I always wanted.
March 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Gregorton
I loved this post! Funny, adorable and ever-so-educational (diapers? really?).
March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWarsawMommy
What a great story -- and yes, your mom should have asked the question!! :)
March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
O.M.G!!!! I am a total geek and your dad is like my hero. My dad worked for Singer Simulations and was part of the team that designed the simulators and ran them so that the astronauts could practice. When mom was worn out (whatever could wear her out?), I went to work with Dad and rode in the sims when they tested various simulation programs. The lunar module sim was one of my faves! All the engineers were so into creatively working together that they really didn't care how old you were and freely shared what they knew even with me. It was a rare opportunity. As a NASA brat, hanging with scientist and astronauts seemed "normal," but now I see it for the gift it really was.
March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLori
So cute! I love how excited second graders get at the appearance of any nonparental adult. My little guy got to present his visiting grandparents today, and when told he should limit his introductory details to two, he announced, "They're from California...and they have a DOG."
March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKris
You never cease to make me chuckle! Love this story! I recently spent time in my 1st grader's class talking about the Lunar New Year and doing an art project. The kids ate it up and were so sharp and inquisitive. For days following, kids in the hallway would shout out "Hey, there's Ruby's Mom!" or state proudly "I got to have her in my class!" Now I wish I had told them I was an astronaut.
March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Wow! My dad also worked for Grumman on the LEM! When the movie Apollo 13 came out I remember my mom bragging about that and my father saying nothing... hm, come to think of it, maybe its not even true. Will need to look into it. :)

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdanish

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