Poor Daddy

Poor Daddy

Poor Daddy is a short story written by Robert A. Heinlein. Unlike his usual output, it is not science fiction, but is intended as a modern story for young girls. It was printed in the magazine Calling All Girls in 1949, and reprinted in the posthumous collection of Heinlein stories and tributes from other writers, Requiem.

Heinlein wrote and submitted the story to show that he was capable of breaking into markets other than science fiction.

Plot summary

The story is very similar in style and tone to Heinlein's story, The Menace from Earth. Maureen, or "Puddin'", a strong-willed, intelligent teenage girl, observes the interplay between her parents over the mother's new-found enthusiasm for ice dancing, and manages to turn it to her advantage. Maureen's father is an unworldly university professor, while her mother is a practical polymath who, amongst other accomplishments, designed and built the family home.

Her father goes on a fishing trip. On his return, he announces that ice dancing is a simple matter of applied physics, and anybody can do it. A competent skater herself, Maureen watches in horror as he puts on skates and ventures out on the ice with a partner. As he approaches the critical first turn, she prepares herself, as she puts it, to "identify the body". However, her father negotiates the hazard and finishes the dance, not without a few wobbles.

Later Maureen announces to her father that she has solved the puzzle. His "fishing trip" was really a crash course in ice dancing. He could not stand to see his wife dancing with other, younger men, but was too proud to learn at home. She could, however, keep it to herself, given enough reason. Her father, a typical Heinlein disciplinarian, tells her she is still young enough to "paddle", but since he's feeling generous, perhaps she should say what's on her mind. She responds that a pair of famous-name skates will do.


  • Heinlein and his wife Ginny were avid ice dancers themselves.
  • Heinlein liked the Maureen character so much he used her personality for the heroine of his last juvenile novel, Podkayne of Mars. Podkayne's multi-talented mother is also quite similar to Maureen's.
  • "Maureen" is also the name of another Heinlein heroine.

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