Today is Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day, an annual observance when parents in the United States, Canada, and Australia are encouraged to take their children along with them to the workplace and show them what sad, soul-crushing things grownups have to do all day. It began in 1992 as simply Take Our Daughters To Work Day, a project of the Ms. Foundation For Women created by Marie C. Wilson with support from Gloria Steinem. Over the decades, however, the overtly feminist origins of the day were de-emphasized,with the name officially changing in 2003 to include the “And Sons” part. In any event, it’s a premise that TV has turned used as a source of comedy on numerous occasions. Adult Swim’s pop culture-skewering Robot Chicken has had some memorable, funny sketches about parents with high-risk jobs taking their kids with them into very dangerous workplaces. The show did a sweet, insightful bit, for instance, about a Star Wars Stormtrooper named Gary and his inquisitive daughter, Jessica. The kid, though spooked by Darth Vader, seems much less susceptible to Jedi mind tricks than her old man.
And since it’s somehow traditional for superheroes to have extremely vulnerable teenage sidekicks, Robot Chicken did a bit about that, too. As extreme as this situation is, the show goes out of its way to make it seem like any other Take Our Children To Work Day. Notice the welcoming banner and the buffet spread. Speedy, Aqualad, Robin, and Kid Flash seem to be having a pretty great day, until Martian Boyhunter (the only one who’s not a canonical DC character) ruins everything.
But perhaps television’s greatest example of the joys of taking kids to work occurred in a 1996 episode of The Simpsons entitled “Bart On The Road.” The show referred to the occasion as “Go To Work With Your Parents Day,” but the reference to the then-new tradition was clear. In the episode, Lisa spends a lovely day with her dad, bonding with Homer at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Bart, however, is not so lucky. He is stuck with his chain-smoking aunts, Patty and Selma, at the DMV. But it’s Milhouse who has the greatest experience of them all. His father Kirk, as Simpsons fans know, was “a pretty big wheel down at the cracker factory” in those days. The Van Houten men have an unbelievably fun day as Milhouse learns that there is no job more exciting than cracker production. It’s one of The Simpsons’ most memorable excursions into complete whimsy.