Little Wooden Cars and Great Big Headaches


It is THAT time of year again.

The season of short days, grey skies, cold temperatures and wooden cars…UGH!

The grey stratus clouds of Western Pennsylvania already cover the skies in a depressing blanket of BLAH, so I am trying not to add my own grey cloud to the mix, but I really hate Pinewood Derby time.


I didn’t always feel this way. Like so many young, fresh, enthusiastic mothers I was the idealistic cheerleader as we cut, sanded, painted, and weighted car #1, #2, #3, #4…

Somewhere around our 15th pinewood derby car the novelty died…died a ugly, ugly death.

 Our pinewood derby experiences began with annual AWANA races when the kids were little, then evolved into Cub Scout races. Throw in some misc. pinewood derby races for the teens and it is fair to say we are old hats at this.

The evidence of our past races litter the shelves of my children’s bedrooms and fill the toy box, always leaving me to wonder WHY ARE WE BUILDING ANOTHER CAR? Why not use one of the dozens we have around the house?

And then remember…

and I remind myself,

and I whisper the mantra…

“Because we can’t be THAT MOM.”

We must not steal from our “round two” littles the joy of the experience that was afforded to our “round one” kids.

It is a tap deep moment when I must forget my own jaded fatigue and put on my young, fresh, enthusiastic Momma face. (PS- I am not alone in this battle. When pinewood derby season comes around Toby would like to move to a communist country where scouting is banned) 🙂

But we do the dance we did with our older children. We sit patiently as they sketch, and re-sketch designs on their blocks of wood…sketches that Toby will have to redesign because they are impossible to make sense of. He will patiently find a car hidden within that block of wood and convince each boy that it was their design…and what a fabulous design it is!

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Then we will patiently watch as they begin sanding their car. It is a process that begins with enthusiasm but quickly loses appeal, leaving Toby and I to finish making the edges smooth.

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Then the painting begins. This is about the point in the process when my tongue begins to bleed from biting it so hard. I sit upon my creative hands and I fight the urge to take over as layer after layer of paint covers the car with the belief that “if a little paint is good, then a lot of paint is great!” The reds, and blues, and greens soon muddle together into a soupy brown that may or may not dry by the time the race rolls around in a week.

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Then it is the stickers, and the weights, and the graphite,

all added with hopes of increasing the speed of your son’s car in comparison to his other troop members.

It is a delicate dance. The goal is to make the car fast enough to leave your child feeling pleased with his performance, but not so fast as to win in his age group…

because winning means ANOTHER RACE!

With more scouts!

Thus making you lose another day of your life to the Pinewood Derby!

A day of your life you will never get back!

But that is between you and I. As far as my boys are concerned… I am a fresh, young, enthusiastic Momma and we are going all the way@!!

Monday we began the derby ritual with another kiddo in the mix. Tyler, Ozzie, and their friend, Derek, sketched, cut, sanded, and painted their cars with dreams of trophies dancing in their sweet little cub scout heads.

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Saturday is the big race…

Wish us luck!

And by luck I mean…

*wink wink*

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