Last week amid all the rain our local cub scout pack had a Pinewood Derby. It was my son's last derby--he'll be too old the next time the blocks of wood are carved, painted and have wheels attached.
But it's also the last Pinewood Derby for the Taylors, three boys, four cars. Needless to say, the organization informally known as "Taylor Racing" was not too successful and now the sun has set on our competitive team.
As a father and Team Leader, I feel sometimes feel bad about the cars we produced. They looked okay. Our limited woodworking tools meant the kids wouldn't get any "super cool" looking cars. We did our best under the circumstances. Building our cars was a task for both parent and child. I asked the kids how they wanted the cars to look like. Once they had a general shape down, I made the cuts then let them do the tough part--sanding.
Next came the painting then putting on the wheels. When the days of the big races came, we set our cars among the others and hoped for the best. Too bad "the best," as far as the timed races went, never could be said of the cars from "Taylor Racing."
As with any project intended for kids, there's more to learn than just building a car and seeing if it can beat the others. They learn responsibility. They hopefully can take pride in a job well done. They learn about sportsmanship and that winning doesn't have to be the only reason for doing something. And I'm hoping my sons learned some of these lessons.
I remember when my mom and my uncle helped me build my Pinewood Derby car--the blond standing up all excited is me, and my car is the stylish red with white racing stripes is mine. This race was held decades ago in the same church gymnasium as my son's race last week. Back then, my car wasn't as fast as the others. Even so, I've kept that car all these years, partially because it's a cool car, but mostly because it brings back good memories. it reminds me of my youth, my mother and how she helped me with something in which I cared greatly. Who knows--maybe one day my boys will find their old Pinewood Derby cars and look back on their childhoods and remember good times.