So, you’re a father and you decide to take your son to the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Your son, like all sons, has lots of questions that you might not be able to answer. And like a good father, you try your best…until some Washington Post reporter lurking in the shadows steps forward to “fact check” you in front of your boy:
Doug Hardy was barely inside the door of the National Air and Space Museum when he made up his first “fact.”
On a sunny morning a few days before Father’s Day, Hardy and his son Andrei were huddled under the Mercury capsule. Like countless dads before him, he was explaining rocket science to his boy, in this case how the mottled heat shield protected John Glenn from a fiery death as the craft plunged through the atmosphere.
Then Andrei, 12, asked: What are these dark disks made of?
Again, like countless dads before him, Hardy answered confidently — even though he didn’t have a clue.
“Steel,” he said.
(The shield is actually made from a plastic-fiberglass composite, said Michael Neufeld, chairman of the museum’s space history division. The disks are plugs left over from post-flight analysis.)
If it didn’t occur to Hardy to say, “I don’t know,” he’s not alone. The phenomenon of the “know-it-all dad” is a familiar one to the docents, curators and keepers of America’s museums and zoos.
The article goes on to give examples of other “whoppers” that fathers tell their sons and tries to offer some explanation that dads need to be right all the time and this is why we are sometimes a little too casual with our answers. What nonsense. At a time when one of the greatest problems in America is boys growing up without fathers, I hope that every son who was ever lied to at a museum grows up into the type of father that takes his son to museums while on vacation, and, if necessary, fudges it a little.