Last week was MM’s Pinewood Derby, his second derby since joining Cub Scouts in 2012. Like a lot of aspects to scouting, this year went a lot smoother than last, for me at least. My memories of last year’s derby were frenetic and confusing. I didn’t understand how the race worked and it was just a blur of over excited boys, large crowds and chaos. Both the kids were hungry and irritable and momma wasn’t doing much better!
So this year I decided to get more involved and volunteered to help out at the derby by checking people in and helping them figure out where to go as well as giving out voting sheets to the scouts so they could vote for their favorite cars and then tally the votes at the end. As I predicted, having a designated job at the derby kept me sane and gave me something to focus on. Little BB hung out with me at the check in table and colored / ate lunch and Dan hung out with MM at the actual race – which I popped in to watch at the beginning and end.
Of course keeping an eye on a four year old, trying to catch some of the races and do my job of helping people out and tally votes was not always easy to juggle, but overall I think it was the perfect fit for me and I liked being able to help out the other families in figuring out where to go and how things worked.
MM raced pretty consistently at an average speed of about 3.4 seconds, putting him in 3rd or 4th place (out of 6 places) in every race. This was tough because on the one hand – his speed was only .2 seconds slower than the cars that were winning!! But 3rd and 4th place is still not first and he didn’t really know how to emotionally process that, especially when half the boys winning were from his den and thus being extremely gloaty (what more would you expect from a 7 or 8 year old boy, really?). So poor Dan had to deal with an awfully morose little boy for most of the race.
We tried to explain to him how WELL he had done but also how it really wasn’t important if he won or lost as long as he enjoyed making the car and was having fun. He eventually mostly came around and was having a good time and then after the last races were over they started handing out prizes to the boys. In addition to the Top 6 racers who won trophies, the Top 3 boys from each den (not including the 6 Top racers) were also given medals and four cars won awards for being The Coolest, Funniest, Craziest and Best cars in the race as judged by the scouts.
So here’s the thing – if 3 of the boys from MM’s den were in the Top 6 and MM was consistently coming in 3rd / 4th place with a speed just .2 seconds behind the winners. Well, you do the math! We didn’t tell him our suspicions just in case we were wrong, but unsurprisingly he won 2nd place in his den and got a shiny medal and was of course all smiles after that!
It was an emotional roller coaster for the boy, but high emotions aside, I am so proud of the kid. He had full control over the design of this car, which I think came out really cool and it raced really well to boot. We encouraged him to look at the other cars that were faster and think about how they were different from his and take that into consideration next year when designing his 2015 derby car. I think he mostly sorta grasped that concept and it will be interesting to see what he comes up with.
His inspiration this year was : “If Doctor Who drove a car, what would it look like?”
Or as I’m calling it: Time And Relative Dimension in Race
I’m sure it’s nearly impossible to tell, but he wrote Tardis quite sloppily on both sides of the car and it’s painted Tardis Blue, using the same paint we used on his cardboard Tardis from Halloween. I thought the design was pretty slick – we spent a lot of time just explaining the concept of how to design a car. He didn’t get it at first, but Dan was very patient and helped him outline an idea on paper and then brought the design to life. Dan did most of the cutting this year as the design was much more complex than last year’s Black Pickup Truck:
It’s so cool to see how far he has come in a year – the new ideas and interests and skills that have emerged in one year. I’m so proud of my little boy and also proud of myself for figuring out a way to better enjoy the Derby itself and find my own place in the scouting world with him.