Our son and three friends were assigned a project by their Math teacher: to build a catapult. This past Tuesday they met at a friend’s house to accomplish the task for today. Upon his return I peppered him with questions about the construction and success of their endeavor and was met mostly by grunts and ‘I dunno’s.’ I chalked it up to teenager-dom and let my line of questioning go.

The next morning at breakfast before school I entered into it once more. I asked him what materials they made the catapult out of and how far the projectile flew.

“Actually, [So and So] and their father was going to put it together last night. We just got the parts ready.”

“Are you serious?”

“He’s an engineer, Mom!”

“Yes, but he’s not a Math student in your Math class. Your teacher did not give him the assignment. She gave you four the assignment. She’s not going to be calling him up and saying, “Hey, Mr. So and So, you did a great job assembling that catapult with the one child from your family who belongs to the group who received the assignment. Well done. The assignment was yours. I so dislike it when parents do stuff like that.”

“I shouldn’t have said anything.”

And as a parent I know he says that but I also know somewhere inside he knows he doesn’t mean it. Because something inside him knew it was a huge opportunity lost. I can only imagine the fertile and fun fiasco it would have been to witness the workings out of those four eighth grade cohorts as they made their way through the design and construction and testing phases of that catapult together. And the lost opportunity for elation (or not) when they were able to witness the fruits of their labors, casting a projectile across the room.

But now that’s all that’s left – to
only imagine it.

Epilogue: Wednesday I bought dowels and rubber bands and this morning Sam (begrudgingly) constructed his own catapult.