This was not a word I had on my original list. When I asked Jerry what words he would suggest, this was his first choice. Lesson learned…never ask a question you don’t know the answer to.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the word challenge as follows:
1. as a call to take part in a contest or competition, especially a duel.
2. a task or situation that tests someone’s abilities.
3. an attempt to win a contest or championship in a sport.
Since I’ve never participated in a duel, although that would be so cool until someone got hurt, I chose to write about number two. A task or situation that tests someone’s abilities.
Now as some of you know, I was not the most perfect student in school. Far from it. I struggled mightily to learn to read and Math makes my head spin. I was not known for my prudent judgement or my ability to keep my mouth closed. I spent a good deal of time in the principal’s or Pastor’s office during my time in Catholic school, and really didn’t care too much about high school either. Shoot, the only reason I finished my associates degree was because my parents said I had to if they were going to pay for my wedding.
So, imagine how I felt when God, in His supreme humor, decided that not only would I end up as a homeschooling mom, but that I, Mary Elizabeth Lenaburg, would create and run a homeschool science fair.
Yes, that’s right. A science fair. Y’all, I hated science growing up. In the seventh grade, Mr Sharp tried desperately to get me to buy into caring about the Cosmos. I wanted nothing to do with it or Carl Sagan. I could have cared less about the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, the Northern Star, Photosynthesis or geology.
I still don’t know much about science, except that chocolate melts better in a double boiler than straight on the stove or in the microwave. But my son Jonathan loved science. LOVED it. The stars, the moon, dinosaurs, volcanoes and dissecting frogs and worms. He wanted to be a paleontologist or an astronaut.
Jonathan was in middle school and we were struggling to find common ground in our realtionship. He was as challenging as I was in middle school but we were home together ALL the time. No break from the crazy. I was desperate to find something that we could do together, something that would create a wonderful memory for us working as a team.
So in a fit of pure insanity being driven by my need to share a positive experience with my son, I decided to not only create and run a Homeschool Science Fair. Thinking back, I should have just gotten hockey tickets but that’s water under the bridge.
I never knew so many things could explode, smell, or be generally icky as I learned at that science fair. Why do middle schoolers choose science projects on how freakin’ gross they are? Bugs? Exploding volcanoes? Or in Jonathan’s case, how electricity works. As in let’s make Mom really nervous and make something spark and come to life.
All I could see was someone getting electrocuted. The headline flashed before my eyes Homeschooler Blows Up Local Parish School Building with Science Project. Last thing heard before the explosion was reported “Hey Mom. Check this out.”
There were so many challenges to making a homeschool science fair a reality. This was back in the day when homeschoolers were basically the freakazoids of the education world and there was no room at the inn. I kid you not. Everything was a battle and it was exhausting. I am happy to say homeschooling has come a very long way.
So many details, so little time. There were judges to find and prizes to acquire. There were many sleepless nights and caffeine was consumed by the gallon. In the end it felt like I was planning a wedding reception for 35 middle school kids. By a miracle of God, our Diocese agreed to allow the top two eighth grade entries to enter their projects into the Diocesan wide Science Fair. Our Diocesan newspaper even covered the event.
When the day finally arrived the tri-folds and projects on display were spectacular. I was so proud of the kids. They worked so hard on their projects and were beyond proud to discuss them with the judges, parents and other attendees.
By the end of the morning, every challenge had been met and over come. From the lack of power cords, the clean-up in the volcano aisle to the overflowing school toilet. I ended up having so much fun. The kids were so excited and since I organized it, I didn’t have to actually judge which took all the pressure off.
Challenges come in many forms. They force us to step outside our comfort zones and really dig deep and think outside the box. I never took “no” for an answer. I just kept moving forward, praying all the while for wisdom and grace. And that the power grid would not go down due to my sons voltage experiment.
Return to The Catholic Conspiracy