Grade Eight Science Project

There are some moments in a family's timeline that beg to be documented for posterity.

Please read that as: there are just some decisions your husband makes that are so certifiably insane that you need to publicly mock them and document them so that you may relive them forever and hold over his head for the rest of his life.

Thankfully my husband, bless his cotton socks, has seen fit to provide me with such fodder. He's so considerate that way.

My daughter Fric recently came home with a grade eight homework assignment. A science project.

Now back when I was hip deep in junior high science, I dreaded any type of science project I was assigned. My parents weren't hands-on with my academics and experiments or projects meant I had to buckle down and suffer alone. I hated science, which meant I was always the kid who did a project that revolved around growing mold on bread.

Needless to say, I didn't excel in science.

My daughter, however, loves science and proves that in some cases, the apple does drop and then roll far, far away from the tree it was grown on.

Her assignment was relatively simple. Design and construct a simple catapult. You would have thought her teacher asked her to create a weapon worthy of military use.

I admit it, being the homework-hating mother I am, I cringed when my daughter walked through the door and excitedly told me about her assignment. I'm pretty sure the blood drained from my face like some sparkly vampire was sucking at my carotid and I was immediately teleported back to the days of potatoes as batteries and mason jars filled with bits of mold.

My husband, being the over-achiever he is, took one look at the assignment and shot his hand up to volunteer to help like his life depended on it. Way to make me look bad dear husband.

To be fair to my husband, (because I'd like to ensure he remains my husband,) he was thrilled to be home to help his daughter with her homework. Working out of town 26 days of each month does not tend to lead to a lot of hands on daddy time and by golly, he was bound and determined to make the most out of what he had.

My daughter was just thrilled one of her parents was as excited about the project as she was.

For the next two days Boo and Fric sat at the kitchen counter, heads together and working through one piece of graph paper after another as he helped my daughter design her catapult blue prints.

It was rather adorable really. Especially since every time I tried to peak at what they were up to they both hissed at me and covered up their work like I was some secret agent spy looking to sell their master plans to the highest bidder in the grade eight class.

When my daughter had finally created a design my husband deemed viable, they headed off to the store to pick up building supplies to bring the project to life.

I expected them to come back with a handful of popsicle sticks and some elastics.

I was wrong.

Turns out, they had much grander ideas.

As construction of the grade eight science project began, I watched my husband and my daughter organize their tools and supplies, and I admit, I laughed at my husband.

"You do realize this design may be a wee over the top?"

"Sure, but it's gonna be fun!" he grinned as he ordered Fric to round up some welding rods.

"But the idea of this experiment is for her to learn something. I'm a little worried you may have bitten off more than she can chew, Boo."

"Honey," he said in that patronizing way he does when he figures he is smarter than me, "even babies need to learn how to chew. That's what I'm planning on doing. Teaching her to chew. While making the best damn catapult known to mankind."

That's when I rolled my eyes at him and went back into the house to wash my hands of the entire thing. If anyone asked, I fully planned on telling them I don't know whom those people were outside on my front lawn.

And so the project went. Them working side by side from sun up to sun down with me inside, rolling my eyes and shaking my head.

I tend to be very helpful like that.

It turns out my husband had an entirely different idea of his own. While I only saw 'lame annoying science project', he saw 'potential to introduce his child to the basic tools of his trade.'

Go figure.

After the materials had been organized and lined up, the tools carefully laid out and the safety equipment procured and fully explained, my husband set my daughter loose. With power tools. While grinning.

First there was the cutting and grinding of the metal rods that were to make the frame.

Fric (and Frac, because let's face it, Dad was home and letting them play with expensive toys and there was no way he was going to let his big sister have all the fun) took to grinding like a duck to water. You could tell the kids were enjoying themselves because they not only sat through Boo's safety lectures but they never rolled their eyes once.

Whose children are these and where did mine go, is what I want to know.

Once the pieces had been cut to specification, the welding fun began.

At first Boo held the torch as he guided the kids through the basic principals of welding.

Then he let them have a go at it by themselves.

When I later asked how the welds held up, he grinned and said it looked like basic chickensh!t. But the welds held and that was all that mattered.

(This of course, only reinforces my belief that any monkey can do his job, so thanks for that honey. You totally proved my job is harder.

*Cackles gleefully.*)

Once the basic frame was assembled, the two of them got down to business of putting the guts in.

I admit, by the time the frame was together and I could see the vast scope of the project the two of them had undertaken, I stopped rolling my eyes. I was too busy trying to remember to close my gaping maw. I swear I swallowed a few flies as my mouth hanged open.

Eventually, the catapult was finished. It took the entire four days my husband was home for my daughter to finish this project. Apparently, creating genius is a time consuming project, especially when one's father insists you do the work yourself and sits on the steps with a beer as he supervises.

Welcome to your first taste of the real world Fric. Some things never change.

It took three people and an elephant to get the catapult off my unfinished wheelchair ramp (which, at this point, I have decided doesn't need safety rails) and onto the lawn for the initial launch.

As Frac, Jumby and myself stood far, far away, we watched as Boo and Fric excitedly set the contraption up and I readied myself for the tears that would follow if the launch failed.

Apparently, I worried for nothing.

There is a dent in the side of my house proving just how effective this weapon catapult really is. Thanks guys. I will tell myself it just adds character.

In the end, my husband got to spend some serious quality time with his oldest children, my kids learned equal parts science, trade skills and the art of military tactics and I may have learned a thing or two myself.

Never underestimate your child's creativity. Given the chance they will surprise you as they launch egg missiles half a mile down the road.

And never ever underestimate a father's willingness to unleash his own inner 13 year old on his family. As he's launching eggs at your house.

I still maintain popsicle sticks and rubber bands would have sufficed.

However, my band of merry over-achievers aren't listening.

*Note: My daughter also had a partner for this project, a girl who all but moved in (and whom I forced to eat my poorly tasting tofu dinners) while she participated in the project as well. Due to privacy laws however, I didn't include her in the post. However, if her science teacher is reading this, she can grind and weld just as well as any monkey can.*