It seems like just last year Joe, now 13 and a Life Scout, was in his first year of Cub Scouts and preparing for his inaugural pinewood derby. I confess here, before all 13 of my readers, that his father did little to advance his memorable but unspectacular racing career.
Yet somehow I find myself again at the pinewood precipice, seeking a burst of wisdom or infusion of skill to help me bring Tom’s hopes of victory closer to reality. Alas, no such breakthroughs have occurred.
In fact, were it not for help along the way from friends and family, we’d still be at the starting line.
Several weeks ago, we were concerned we wouldn’t have Tom’s car done in time for the annual race. I frantically thumbed the church phone directory for the number of Assistant Cubmaster Shaun McDaniel.
I was lucky to find him at home late on a Sunday afternoon. I was even more fortunate that, the week before, his wife had picked up two Pinewood Derby kits at the store – one for their son and another just in case.
Work took me out of town most of the following week, and the race – which later was moved back a month – was then scheduled for the next weekend. While I was away, my father-in-law helped Tom trace the perfect design on his car.
Tom and I spent an hour the following Saturday in the church scout building, where several dads with tools were helping boys whose parents don’t have them – that would be me – cut and sand their cars. With the help of Scoutmaster Vince Fried, Tom and I shaped his car into a classic wedge and smoothed it down with his ducky sander.
Tom decided he wanted to decorate his car with rockets, so we ran to the hardware store that evening to get some decals. After finding a dearth of rocket stickers, we decided to make our own.
We scoured the Internet, found the perfect rocket stencil and reduced it to the ideal size. The only thing I failed to think through was how to adhere it to the car without pulling the paint off when removing it.
Kate suggested I trace the rocket pattern on painter’s tape, and it worked like a charm. Good thing she’s around to solve such problems.
We’ve just finished painting the car. Next weekend, we’ll take it to my neighbor’s house for help with the wheels and weights.
Thanks in advance, Gary. (He doesn’t know yet we’re coming down.)
The Pinewood Derby experience has reminded me how fun it is to be a parent – and how important it is to let others help you out along the way.
That Tom will be lucky if his car makes it to the end of the track, much less places at the top of the pack, is of no concern to him. He truly believes his dad is Mr. Handyman, a guy whose skill and prowess with tools is unequaled.
Thanks for your help Shaun, Deandra, John, Vince, Kate and Gary. Let’s keep this one quiet for a while so I can enjoy the handyman limelight a bit longer.
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