Ted Rulez, but not as much as my son! Tonight was Kovey's Cub pack's Pinewood Derby, where the boys build little wooden cars and race them on a long track for fun and profit...er, I mean, prizes. :)
Here's a view of the track. The very loooong track. Don't remember my pack's track being half as long.
This was the first time I'd been to one of these things since I was a Cub Scout myself, so that's like 25 years or some such. It's just as I remember it, only this time the majority of the cars looked like the boys made them, rather than talented dads with professional shops. The exceptions included the one that had been painted in an auto-body shop with this really slick, glossy blue-purple iridescent candy shell. At least the "windows" looked like the kid had applied them.
So anyway, K-man and I built the car together, and we were quite pleased with the results:
An exact Kovey quote: "Aba, this was a great project. Thanks for building my car with me." You can't buy that sort of sentiment.
The tough part was trying to balance wanting the car to look decent but not like *my* car with Kovey's near-non-existent attention span and fine-motor-skill difficulties. This is a child for whom writing is an immense effort, fraught with discomfort, and I'm asking him to sand and paint and help out with a craft project. The major plus was that the pack had a "cut-out night", where one of the dads brought in a jigsaw and helped the kids cut their car shapes out of the rectangular block one gets with the kit (this was great, as I have neither a saw nor a good place to use one). He managed to coax Kovey into helping cut out his shape, so that much of the process was all him.
He chose the paints and sticker placement, with input from me (I do have an art degree, after all) but it's still his car. Happy dad. Then we weighed in his car (the weight limit is 5 oz., we came in at 4.7 - yay!) The cars were all collected and lived with one of the judges last night, and were unsealed tonight at the race.
For the actual race, the whole pack gets together, and then races within dens (Tigers race against other Tigers, Wolves against Wolves, etc. Once they have winners in the dens, they race those winners for an overall pack winner. They made a good effort to make sure every car raced against every other, and that every car had a run on each of the three tracks to be fair. Some of those cars really moved!
Kovey's Bear den was very small (two of them, actually) but they ran three heats with the cars on different tracks. The results? Kovey commandingly won the first two, and narrowly list the third. I was elated - not just because he had won his den, but because he achieved a personal success. And when you're growing up bi-polar, success can mean the difference between wanting to do something ever again and bursting into inconsolable tears and hating the activity for ever.
Kovey also displayed great sportsmanship - he never once taunted his friend, even though he advanced and his friend didn't. In fact, they spent the rest of the races hanging out together. More on this later.
Once all the dens were done, they gathered the seven winners together and ran them in a series of heats to find the overall pack top three. Kovey raced in the first three heats, winning the first in fine fashion, narrowly finishing second in the next (a good tight race), but falling third against two vastly faster cars in the third. He had a great attitude through it all, more bothered by the not racing anymore than the not winning (who can blame him?) In the end, the three fastest cars I saw all night duked it out closely for the top three, including the professional paint-job one, which won. In fact, the next-to-last heat was the tie-breaker for first, but the other guy's car won that one! It really came down to one last run to decide. For everyone who knew the pack well for last few years, it was worth noting that the scoutmaster's kid didn't come in first for a change.
Now for the part I wish had a picture of but happened too fast: while we were getting our coats on, I realized Kovey was no longer standing right next to me. Where was he? (Forgive my typing, I'm tearing up) Shaking the winner's hand, telling him "Good game!" Unprompted. All on his own. I think there's something to be said for a kid who listens to his parents enough that when it comes right down to it, he does the right thing like it's the only thing to do. I'm more impressed with his sportsmanship than with his racing, I think.
So, he came away with a car (still intact!) and two ribbons (one for winning the den, and one for participation - which he told me was for "doing his best") and two immensely proud parents. I have video of his races, but I have to transfer it from my handheld and turn it upright...next post.
In all, I'd say it was way worth missing fencing practice. I think I'd have skipped K&Q for the chance to be there for him...but luckily, I don't have to do that this year. :)