It’s a Whittle Car

Following the school bully debacle, David decided that Joe might like to get involved with Cub Scouts. Sure, it’s mid-way through the year but there are several boys who Joe knows in his new pack and frankly, there has to be something this kid is into besides Super Mario and toenail biting binges.

This weekend is the big Pinewood Derby. Joe has been to exactly one Cub Scouts meeting and we’re so totally clueless as to what the whole thing entails. How un-American of David and me, right? I mean, how in the world have we made it to the ripe old age of (not going to say) without ever having participated in a Pinewood Derby race? I blame David. He’s the one born to do things like this…no wait, I blame my in-laws for not exposing my husband to the world of Cub Scouts and the fine art of pinewood derby car engineering. Okay, not really. I actually thoroughly enjoy my in-laws and their son was busy doing things like soccer and hockey and waterskiing and skiing and being chased by the ladies.

Joe, on the other hand, is still entirely innocent about the ladies and he is not interested in soccer. He made this clear last fall when beckoned David to him with his finger at a game and loudly whispered, “I HATE SOCCER!” in David’s ear. Okay, then…point taken.

The kid likes to run and bike. He wants to learn how to surf this summer. If he sticks to those pursuits, someday he’ll be radical. Hell, he might even possess tiger blood and some goddesses. (We’ll keep the rampant drug use, mixed with batshit crazy out the mix.) For now, he could use some social skills to go with his ADHD so, Viola! Cub Scouts. He likes it. He had fun helping (watching) me build his derby car. He sanded the right rear bumper for about 5 minutes and used a normally forbidden black Sharpie to write his number of choice on the car. He’s with David as I type, weighing the car, sanding axles and polishing wheels… the graphite lubricant is waiting.

Until yesterday, I had no idea that this entire process existed.

We picked the car up last weekend. It was a block of wood, some nails and four plastic tires. Huh…

It sat on the counter untouched for an entire week as Race Day quickly approached. I thought the whole idea was that the boys would ensconce themselves in the workshop with man-tools and hash out a design together. The block of wood would gradually take shape and become a race car through Joe’s hard work and imagination. He’d feel pride of ownership and a bit of reward for his hard work and perseverance.

I walked past that block of wood and it began speaking to me. Well, aren’t you a shitty parent.

It’s not my job. I’m the mommy.

You know… the other blocks of wood are almost done. Joe isn’t getting anything out of this experience and how, by the way, is he going to learn to commit to a project or club or relationship if you don’t turn me into a car?

I sat down with the block of wood and a cup of coffee. Oh God, you’re right Block of Wood… we’re not teaching him the right lessons. Where did we go wrong? No wonder the kid has the attention span of a flea…it’s my fault entirely!

Do you know me? I mean personally know me? No? Well, let me tell you that watching that block of wood languish on the counter was killing me. I thought, surely that thing should have some sort of shape by now. A few more days went by and David put some markings on it and put it back down. I just couldn’t help myself. We were three days from Race Day and my need to take control won. I Googled pinewood derby cars and realized how much work needed to be done and it needed to be done immediately!

I rifled through David’s workshop, located a hacksaw and lopped the front end off. Then I got busy whittling. Using one of my beloved (and très expensive) paring knives, the hacksaw and some sandpaper, I spent the better part of my Thursday sawing and whittling a semi-lame car out of a block of pine. No, it’s not fantastic – I agree, but at least the car was on its way and could be painted and race-worthy in time for Saturday morning.

Joe wanted his car to be red. Done.

Joe wanted flames and the number to be ‘909’. Done buddy, and I like your unintentional nod to The Beatles.

My baby says she’s the one
After nine-o-nine
I said move over honey,
I’m traveling on that line

Good luck, little guy!

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  1. Tales of a Hockey Wife says:

    wow..I am completely impressed. Good for you! I know all about things sitting and not getting done by a certain hockey coach (wo's name I will not name)….

    Let us know how he does!

  2. Definitely!

  3. Slidecutter says:

    Looks like a winner to me! Good job and Good Luck Joe!!

  4. Sparkling says:

    I am hysterical. My sister is the only one of us that ever did a PInewood Derby and it was, in all things, during AWANA. If you dont' know what AWANA is,tune into my blog as I will soon be posting about it. It was basically a Christian youth group. But why on earth they did a Pinewood Derby was beyond me. I couldn't even understand the name! And why only she did it is also a mystery. And I remember my father getting so excited. And when I found it was a stupid car, I was like WTF??? She will be the mother who whittles her son's car too. Maybe you should meet her!

  5. Good on ya for helping little man out. Did I miss the denouement of the bullying issue?

  6. Nice work. Color me impressed! Best of luck today Joe!

  7. KT @ KT's Refinishing School says:

    I love this blog post! Both of my brothers competed in Pinewood Derbies but the cars were mostly engineered by my grandpa (who is an engineer and tinkerer) and my dad. I think they (my dad and grandpa) had more fun than the kids 🙂

    Good luck with the Derby!

  8. The car is awesome and fantastic – nicely done. And I love the Beatles reference. 🙂

  9. Crystal says:

    That….is….awesome! Way to go "mommy of the year"! Because I'm not doing that. I cart kiddos to swim meats, wrestling duals, baseball, batting cages, soccer gigs, football games, cross country meets…you name it, we do it. But I went to 1, uno cub scout meeting and bowed out. too much au natural, outdoorsy, hands-on crap-er-experiences for this mom. So I bow and tip my hat to you. Go Car Go!!

  10. zach&katies crazymom says:

    way to go kel! awesome car and congrats to joe! i did cub scouts with zach for years and i always fretted over the "derby". but my competitive nature always kicked in on race day and i was more excited than the kids! i was clueless before hand too, just like with all the other stuff, b-ball,softball,soccer,and currently girl scouts, which for kate is like joe, half way thru the year and me clueless and guilty. must be something in the water where we grew up! good job mom!!!!

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