October 3, 2022

Confessions of an Underqualified Uncle

By on October 2, 2018 0 659 Views

Someday, I hope to be as smart as my niece. At five years old, she already knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.

“Uncle Justin, when I grow up I’m going to be an inventor!” said Monica with frustrating levels of pride and optimism.

“Good for you, kiddo,” I reply. “It’ll be a lot of work though, in today’s political climate.”

“I’m gonna invent the shrink ray and then the I’m gonna invent the grow ray,” said Monica, wisely cutting off one of my rants.

“Well, sure why not.” This kid is out to lunch.

“Want to know what I’m gonna do first?” asked Monica.

“What’s that?”

“First thing I’d do is I would SHRINK the GROW ray!”

There is a silence between us. She looks at me as if I should be on the same page as her. I am definitely lost.

“… so that way after I shrink myself and I’m done being shrunk, I’m the same size as the grow ray and I can grow myself up again.”

Five years old. How does my sense of foresight measure up to this three-foot-tall, walking, talking Scholastic Aptitude Test?

The next day, I needed a bowl for my cereal (for dinner, of course) so I grabbed a recently washed bowl from the sink that still had water resting at the bottom.

Too lazy to simply dry the bowl, I did the class bachelor flick of the bowl with my wrist to flick the water out. You know, to dry it with wind. Instead, I cracked the bowl on the side of the counter. It was my only bowl. I ate my cereal out of a frying pan.

“Why don’t you just put the cereal in your coffee mug?” asked Monica.

“Why don’t you get back to work on that shrink ray?” I replied, handing her a MENSA application.

About the author

Justin Shaw is a theatre artist, mental health advocate, and uncle. In the world of theatre, he works as Artistic Director of Theatre; Just Because – Fort McMurray’s Independent Theatre Company. This role includes directing and writing plays, as well as coaching actors. Shaw runs the Theatre; Just Because Youth Play Production program, and is the drama teacher for Triple Threat Academy.

In 2018, Shaw worked with the RMWB’s Artist in Residence Masterclass, coaching artists to develop an understanding of the actor’s process. Recent acting credits include Salt-Water Moon at the Heritage Shipyard, Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii at Keyano Theatre, and hit clown comedy Mooda & Tula Go Camping, which earned Shaw the Outstanding Actor and Outstanding Production award in the Alberta Drama Festival’s North Zone night of one acts.

For his advocacy of mental health, Shaw is the Events & Marketing guy at Some Other Solutions Society for Crisis Prevention. In this work, Shaw champions mental health through awareness campaigns and fundraising. Shaw’s campaigning always feature his trademark humour and levity built upon a message of empowerment. To date, Shaw’s favourite campaign was building Spare Change: An Evening of Comedy, which engaged local comedy acts to support mental health resources in the community.

Outside these roles, Shaw is a long-distance, full-time uncle of four nieces and a nephew who have given him a humbling awareness of the world around him.