Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A Night At The Races

I have a bit of a confession.

I hate the Pinewood Derby.

There! I said it! And I don't take it back.

You see, I have a son, a glorious, hard-working and honest little man who takes things seriously. He has followed the rules of his life from day one and tends to look at everything as good or bad, black or white, right or wrong.

This can be both a blessing and a curse.

So when he arrived home all rosy-cheeked and fresh faced from scouts a few weeks back, block of wood in hand, he was ready to get to work. He said is kind den mother told him to work hard and do his best and he would have a wonderful derby.

So he did. He came up with his own design and after the Rizz did the initial cutting, he spent hours sanding and puttying and sanding again. He went over every inch of that car, taking the time to come up with a paint job and design that he could carry out all on his own. And you have never seen a boy more pleased with what he was able to do. His car represented everything he believes in at 9 1/2, which is that hard work will be rewarded and that it's always more important to be honest than anything else.

And then the derby came.

And he saw what some of the other boys had done, with their perfect paint jobs and slick-as-can-be designs and perfect shapes. And I saw his confidence waiver for just a minute before he caught my eye, smiled broadly and put his car in the pit to wait for the race to begin.

This is where my loathing of all things derby comes in.

For his first race he was matched with a young man who is known for having amazingly fast cars. I could see his eyes widen when their names were called to race together but he proudly claimed his car and got ready to race.

He lost.

He was saddened for just a minute and then he remembered all the things my sweet husband has been saying to him for weeks. That it's not about winning. That it's about doing your best. That what's most important is working hard and knowing you did everything you could.

Race #2, here we go.


Races 3, 4, and 5, lost.

And one of his wheels came off. And we didn't have any glue. And I didn't know what to do. And I hated that my son was hurting and he was left with me as his pit crew instead of Brad who would know just what to do and just what to say.

At this point, his little lip was beginning to quiver and his eyes welled up. I pulled him out in the hallway for a quick pep talk. And here's the thing; there's something that happens to young men of this age where they are still young enough to want to cry but are old enough to feel like they shouldn't (which we really need to do something about) and it's heartbreaking. He was trying so hard to hold it together and be brave.

A few kind fathers helped us out and got his car back in racing condition. We would have to race his car backwards, but at least it could race.

I got him laughing for just a minute before we went back in. Races 6, 7 and 8...


He threw his bravery out the window and began an earnest cry.

We quickly made our way to a nearby classroom and I gave him a minute to cry it out. I told him how proud I was of his hard work, how I understood how frustrated he must be feeling, how I loved him more than anything else. And here's where I fell more in love with my son:

"I'm not sad because I'm not winning. I'm happy for my friends. I just want to do well one time because I worked so hard and I thought that's what it was all about."

I hugged him close and suggested that we say a prayer. Not a prayer that he would win but that the night would be a good experience for him and he would feel like his hard work wasn't for nothing.

When we rejoined the derby, he chose to sit with me instead of his friends. He looked at the ground, twisted his fingers about and waited for his name to be called. When it was, his big eyes turned to me and I gave him a quick hug and reassured him that no matter what, it would be alright.




That one little win made his whole night. His car managed to do well and he felt like everything had been worth it. He managed to win two other races out of the 130 and he felt like the biggest winner of the night.

When it came time for the awards, Spence proudly stood with his den and cheered on his friends. The emcee started talking about the coveted "Best of Show" award which would be given to the scout who had worked on his car on his own, embodying everything that a scout should be and the winner was...


I don't hate the derby anymore.

As you can imagine, Spence was OVERJOYED at his good fortune. And I was overwhelmed by his leaders who saw a boy who did his best and desperately needed to know that he had done well, win or lose. And that his hard work did not go unnoticed. He pumped his fists in the air and jumped up high when his name was called and I knew that he would be okay.

Afterwards, as he chatted a million miles a minute on the way home, he commented on another scout who didn't win a single race at the derby. This young man handled his defeat extremely well and Spence said "you know what, Mom? I just think that he and I have lots of other talents besides pinewood derby racing."

Man I love that kid.


Brooklet said...

Um, so i am still crying. Who knew pinewood derbies stories would put me in tears, but it did. Spence is wise beyond his years- he handled that so much better than most adults would, not to mention kids. and i cried even more as he jumped up to get his best of show award. Ahhh! I need to pull myself together now. Thanks, Spencer, for your good example to someone you don't know who lives on the other side of the country.

Heather said...

I loved that story, and even more I love that kid!

Sara said...

Thanks for sharing and being honest about the heartache we feel as moms when we see things that are unfair. I am glad he won and that he recognized the other boys lost. Smart boy!

Sarah said...

I almsot think they should make them work on their cars during their scout meetings to ensure that "the boys" are really the ones doing the work and not the dads. Not fair for the ones that have dads to help them and the ones that don't. To be honest I am dreading this with my boys. Glad Spencer had a positive turn of events and that he got a good experience out of it. You are a GOOD mom to take him to those things even without Brad and give him all your support and encouragement.

Lisa said...

I am literally crying. What a great story. What a great mom you are and what a great son you have!

AOlson said...

My eyes are still filled with tears and I am forclempt (sp?). I loved that you shared this story. I know how you feel. Jacob did not do too well either and it broke my heart to watch him lose and his smile fade so quickly. Jacob did win best paint job and that made the night perfect for him. You are such a great mom. Thanks for sharing.

Jeremy said...

A awesome story. I can sympathize with Spencer because when I was in cub scouts my cars hardly even made it down the track and I hated that feeling. I am glad he had a good experience. Even though I never won I still like the pinewood derby.

Brenda said...

After many years in the Primary pres. and having to watch many a pinewood derby. One where the scout dyed his car with koolaid. I can relate to your story. just glad my boys are all grown up now and I have grand daughters not grand sons yet. Ya. thanks for the tears at work!

tharker said...

Well I hope Spencer's proud of himself for making a bunch of grown women cry like little babies! Thanks Spence!

I LOVE that boy!!!

Mimi said...

I agree with Sarah, I think that kids should work on them in their meetings, but I guess there are larger life lessons to be learned, mainly that life is not fair but you can still take away positive things from these experiences. It looks like Spencer learned them with help from his mom. Who doesn't love a happy ending? Beautiful story. :)

lindsay>boo said...

Seeing the whole night with my very own eyes, you've got yourself one AMAZING kid. I seriously almost bawled for him when his wheel fell off. That was just the saddest thing ever. Especially when some of the officials were adamant that he couldn't put a new hole in his car so the wheel would stay because it was "against regulations to make changes on a car once the derby has begun." Oh, but when he won that race!!! That was so awesome, especially the fist pump in the air. And finally, when he won "best in show"---I so wish I could have gotten that on video. Truly a priceless moment.

L said...

What an awesome kid. Where's the picture of the car???

hatch said...

One of the best moments of the night was the race he won. You could just see the cheer come back to his face.
His car looked great!

Amy said...

Poor dude! I'm glad things worked out in the end.

Tiffany said...

UGH!! Seriously!!! Breaks my heart!! What a sweet boy!!! I am so proud of him and I've only met him like once!! Great story thanks for sharing!

Kelly said...

My kids are wondering why I have tears in my eyes... Both sad and happy ones. What a roller coaster evening for Spence. Not only should he be proud of all of his hard work, but also for being such a supportive friend, and for being wise beyond his years! Love that kid!

Lisa said...

A beautiful (and inspiring) story....and you told it so well. Sounds like you have quite an amazing little man!

Marilyn said...

I really loved reading this story. Being a mom to boys is so rewarding, I think.

Andre said...

What a wonderful attitude. It will help him with other crappy things that happen in life.

Raising Earnest Sons said...

I'm sitting at my computer in my empty classroom crying. No, really. Crying.

lovely lindsay said...

what a sweet boy. what a SWEET mother. the two of you just taught me a really good lesson. this is the kind of stuff that The Friend articles are made of. thanks for sharing this. love, lindsay

Anonymous said...

My friend and I were recently talking about how modern society has evolved to become so integrated with technology. Reading this post makes me think back to that debate we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further innovates, the possibility of downloading our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could experience in my lifetime.

(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=]R4i[/url] DS SysBro)