The worth of a buck is great…

Daily conversation with my EC this past week:

“Are you working on President’s Day”
“Let’s do something fun!”
“I have to make the Pinewood Derby.”
–Silence — (She’s really good at knowing when silence is the perfect response)

I have been making Pinewood Derby cars (PDs) for 10 years now.  Never had a winner. Probably never will.  I decided a long time ago that none of the FOMLs will ever experience a 1st Place finish.  I learned this my very first year when I found out that the brother that worked at the auto proving-grounds would test his son’s car in the wind tunnel to gauge wind resistance. (Not joking.)

Without speed, we are left with clever.  Not cool. Cool denotes speed.  Clever is clever, even if its slow.  I can do clever and slow.

This year the youngest FOML is a Bear.  And excited.  Today was the day to build his car.

First off, we hit Lowes to buy some sandpaper and glue, etc.  I feel comfortable there.  I feel at home roaming the aisles.  From there we went to Hobby Lobby.  Not quite the same “vibe.” I can best describe it as an estrogen-fueled atmosphere.  It is not a place where men are the dominant gender.

I asked the lady working near the entrance where the PD supplies were.  She stared at me for about 5 seconds.  (If you don’t think five seconds is a painfully long time, start counting now.)  She pointed towards the rear of the store and said “Somewhere back there.”

We were able to find the one aisle in the store that had a hint of testosterone.  Model cars and airplanes, Estes rockets, and a whole section for PD supplies.  Granted, it was one aisle of a store the size of Walmart, but I have to give them credit for having this stuff.

My son actually has an opinion.  I would hold a a paint tube, and he would say ” I don’t think so, we need something with a little more red in it.”  What? I was used to all of my boys saying “I dunno.  Whatever you think Dad.”

So I put him in charge of picking out the paint color.  He did surprisingly well.  So, I showed him where the lead weights were hanging, and told him to pick some out.  He returned with a package of tungsten weights for $17.99.

Almost puked.  I walked him back to the rack and grabbed a package of lead weights for $3.99.  He didn’t understand.

Never one to let a teaching moment go by, I crouched down to eye-level and explained to him.  “Son, there are a lot of people in the world who aren’t very smart.  And there are a lot of people in the world who are really good at taking money away from the stupid people.  Only stupid people would spend 20 bucks on weights for a Pinewood Derby.”  He still looked confused, so I asked him “Are we smart? Or are we stupid?”  He brightened up and quickly answered “We are smart!”  I said “That’s right!  So let’s buy the cheap ones.”

We got everything we needed, learned a little lesson, and were able to leave the “Estrogen Lobby” in less than a half-hour.  Turns out I had a great day with my son building a very fun (not fast) car.  It felt very satisfying, and I think my skin is a little softer.


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  1. Oh praise the heavens I have only daughters! Wait…they’re more expensive…crap.

    PS I had buffalo wings for dinner tonight. Jealous? 😉

  2. I have been a failure when it comes to helping my sons with their Pinewood derby cars. So far 5 of my 7 boys have learned it is much smarter to go to their grandpa for help building it rather than their dad. My entire tool collection consists of a a bunch of screw drivers and a couple hammers. I’m pretty sure that assembling it on the spot with your bare hands before the race would produce a faster car than the one I could help them with.

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