### Parenting Tradition: The Pinewood Derby Experience

My children consistently struggled with elementary school science fairs despite excelling academically and later pursuing advanced degrees in molecular biology and biochemistry. The responsibility for their lackluster science fair performances ultimately falls on me, a single working mother juggling multiple responsibilities with limited time, energy, and expertise to dedicate to these projects. The winning projects at the science fair always appeared to have extensive parental involvement, raising doubts about their authenticity as the work of mere ten-year-olds.

When my children were eleven and twelve, my husband Steve and I tied the knot, missing out on the chaotic yet memorable elementary school projects. Now, as a grandparent, Steve has the opportunity to make up for those missed experiences. When our six-year-old grandson’s troop announced the upcoming Pinewood Derby, all eyes turned to Steve, known for his meticulous attention to detail within the family. He enthusiastically embraced the challenge!

Our grandson, a newcomer to Boy Scouts at six years old, typically shies away from group activities. However, at the insistence of his enthusiastic best friend, Callister decided to join as well. While Callister may lack enthusiasm, his friend’s infectious optimism compensates for it. Their shared excitement for campouts motivated their entry into Boy Scouts, with the Pinewood Derby ranking low on Callister’s list of priorities. His reluctance to participate was palpable, akin to stating the obvious.

Crafting the Car

Meanwhile, my detail-oriented husband delved into YouTube tutorials, collaborated with other fathers, and procured essential supplies like scales, drill bits, sandpaper, and glue. A simple search for Pinewood Derby yields over four million results on Google, with a plethora of related products available on Amazon. Knowing that other families also grappled with this project provided some solace. My husband made numerous trips to Lowe’s for various materials, ranging from two to twenty visits.

Despite Callister’s disinterest, my husband persistently encouraged and guided him through each step of the process. Callister reluctantly engaged in tasks such as sanding, drilling assistance, and selecting a design. Opting for a minimalist approach, he painted a yellow C on the car, choosing the path of least resistance. Involving an unenthusiastic six-year-old inevitably prolonged the project, but they managed to complete the car by race day.

Their collaborative effort was a significant achievement!

Race Day at the Pinewood Derby

The event day buzzed with excitement as each car raced in four heats, alternating lanes for fairness. A computerized timing system marked the finish line. Callister’s joy knew no bounds when he clinched victory in one heat. Although he didn’t secure an overall placement, it didn’t dampen his spirits in the slightest. Receiving a participation ribbon, enjoying time with friends, basking in family support, and relishing snacks from the concession stand made it a fulfilling day from a first-grader’s perspective.

Impressive race track setup!

My husband, deserving of accolades for his unwavering patience, is already strategizing for next year’s Pinewood Derby. Callister cherishes his participation ribbon and is eager to return to his favorite pastime of playing with friends. That’s the essence of being a six-year-old boy. Will his perspective on the Pinewood Derby evolve as he grows older? Perhaps, but we’re not banking on it.

Despite the stressful weeks spent on the car project, their bond remains strong, marking a significant victory!