About Me

I ❤ coffee. 

I am Shauna Shanks. I love green smoothies. I'm an author, mom & wife chasing smallness.

Hover Shoes and the Bird House

Hover Shoes and the Bird House

My heart sank to my feet and I was instantly covered in sweat. My ears started ringing. I tossed the kid who was sitting on my lap off of me and ran upstairs trembling. 

The 5th grade Science Fair project is due Friday? This Friday? Like 3 days Friday? I thought we had an extra week. I didn't realize the whole thing was due before the actual Science Fair. I thought the Fair date was due date. 

Just great.

This last minute panic attack was not entirely my fault. I know what you may be thinking. It's the kids' projects, so it's the kids' responsibility. Yeah, I get that. But let me explain to you about 5th grade Science Fairs. They are legit. The packet they sent home was heavy and intimidating. The kids' do the project, yes. But a project like this takes adult guidance! I am the adult guide-er.

Oh boy. Some of you know how I feel about adulting. 

See, several months ago (yes, it was assigned several months ago, now hush) when we got the massive, slightly terrifying packet, Siah wanted to do not just an ordinary science project. He wanted to do an engineering project. He wanted to build hover craft shoes. He wanted to invent shoes that f-l-y.

And why not?

So I did what perfectly good, good-at-adulting-adults-do. We YouTube'd it.

Everything seemed legit. We ordered the materials and waited. Then the materials came in the mail and we waited some more. Then we waited some more. 

Fast forward til a few weeks ago. We had it all coordinated with his Science Fair partner friend for them to get together to start their project. Then Siah got sick. He was down for four days. That was the weekend we had planned our Science Fair binge weekend.

That's ok, I comforted myself. We have one last weekend. 

Except we didn't.

I felt like I was going to puke. This was my fault. These kids are going to bomb the Science Project because the designated adulter didn't adult! I sat on Siah's floor with my computer and a million and a half papers around me and I did something that never fails to calm me in desperate moments. The one thing I've found that can magically gloss over even the most grim of circumstances after just an instant of completion.

I made a list. (Moms? Come on, now!)

We had a lot of work to do. The project itself would be exciting and fun (soldering and hot glue guns, anyone?) But the report, oh my goodness, the report! I have never seen that much required documentation in my life and words are my job!

To make matters worse, my poor son had now missed a few days of school, so he would no doubt have a massive workload to catch up by the same due date. (Which, I'm guessing.... is why they advised us to start working on the science fair project during Christmas break. I don't know.)

The next few days were a frenzy. I outlawed everything in the house unless it was research and developement for flying shoes. I kidnapped the Science partner friend everyday after school until due date. I ransacked Hobby Lobby buying up foam board displays and bubble letters like it was my job. Oh, this is going to be great! We were way-ward slacker children before, but we are now on-point science wizards!

I was in full on drill sargent, get-er-done mode, and like anything, when I am in anything-mode, I can't easily shut it off. I talk way too much. I lay in bed that night with my husband going on and on about all things Science Fair. We were lying on our sides starring at each other when he finally said quietly, "That's a bad memory for me, babe." I snapped out of it.

"What?" Then I realized.

Of course it was. 

As I said earlier, the Science Fair is a kid project but to be successful, I'm sorry, it needs adult guidance. It just does. My husband didn't have that growing up. He rarely ever talks about that, but he recalled his own Science Fair. A friend of his mother had given him a pre-fabricated bird house to assemble. His little fifth-grade self arrived the day of the fair and stood among elaborate displays and impressive boards, with his bird house and a report he had written about making the bird house. 

No tri-pod board, no bubble letters, certainly no high-wired engineering experiement. No one was freaking out over him.

He began explaining to me how it makes him feel to see me work so hard and get so worked up making sure the boys have a good experiment, to be able to give our sons so much more than he had. My mind immediately raced to the other kids who might show up with a bird house type of experiment on presentation day. 

Do you ever feel like no one is freaking out about you?

When I ride along with my husband at the police department sometimes an alert sometimes comes up on the screen. It says, "BOLO." Be on the look out.

It is so easy to ride comfortably, floating down the lazy river of our own circle, absorbed by our people. Community and friendships are amazing. I’ve been without both and now that I have them I appreciate their value all the more, trust me. But I am reminded I cannot be so content there, that I am not on the look out for people without a presentation board or any one to help them. All around are people who are alone, on their own, even though they are surrounded by people and busyness.

I'm using some thick Science Fair imagery here (coming out of science fari mode, it's hard to get re-acclamated to regular life, ok?) Even still, some of you know exactly what I’m talking about because you already have people coming to your minds. I know this, because I do, even as I write this. We think of those who are alone, who have no close knit community, who stand there holding a wooden birdhouse and have to take a bad grade in life because they had to do it alone. 


Let’s look around today and be on the look out. I’m going to do this today and the rest of this week especially. Let’s look for anyone who has no one freaking out over them. Maybe they are holding signs on the freeway. Maybe it’s a student in your son’s class, maybe it’s your waitress, or a co-worker. Let’s see the impact we can make when we make a really big deal out of each other. Then come back here and lets share our stories of what happened when we do this.


Oh, and it’s not a big deal but....BOOM.

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