Saturday, February 2, 2013

4.5 seconds

Connor just participated in his final Pinewood Derby. During this race the boys make their own cars, with some support from an adult, and then race them down the track. From start to finish, each car takes about 4.5 seconds to get to the end. If you blink; it's over.


It. Goes. By. So. Fast.

There are options when building a pinewood derby car. You can go for a beautiful car which looks fantastic but which may not make it to the finish line in one piece. You could build a strong, aerodynamic car which doesn't look so great but finishes ahead of all the rest. Or, you could make something in the middle. Something that looks decent and finishes right in the middle of the pack. No matter what you choose to build; the more time you put into it, the better you will do.

This was Connor's last Pinewood Derby. It's not that Connor isn't participating in the derby next year, or that he has chosen not to make a car. Rather, Connor will no longer be a Cub Scout next year. If he chooses to stay in the program he will instead become a Boy Scout. Did you hear that? My son; my baby boy is suddenly too old for something, and has aged out. He is growing up.

Connor has done the Pinewood Derby for five years now. Each year it's exciting and each year we are able to reflect on the changes in the cars and the strategies. But mostly we reflect on the changes in the boys.

Connor's first derby took place when he was six. His car looked great and it ran well. In fact he placed in third place and was able to move to the District Pinewood Derby. Not bad for a newbie!

The second year his car looked nice. And.... that's about it. It was slow moving. Connor had a very hard time with this. Our evening was spent balancing tantrums and learning about how to cheer for our friends. At the end of the night we were proud that he had the worst car but the best behavior. That was our slogan and boy did we work hard to claim it.

The next year the derby happened to be on Connor's birthday. It was fun and carefree. Connor had a good time; people sang to him and he enjoyed the attention.

The fourth year Connor's car was a speed demon. It was far, far ahead of its fellow racers. Until... it fell off the track. That was a blow. There were some tears. We talked and learned and grew from it, and we learned about congratulating the winners.

This year, the same thing happened as above. This year though, Connor was equipped to deal with that and was totally fine. He was happy to participate and happy to have made a car with his dad. This year Connor was overheard cheering for other scouts, and encouraging his fellow scouts to cheer for other scouts. This year my son was thrilled with the progress that his friends had made, and was genuinely happy when his friends did well. This year we talked about not chanting "Go Steve" and cheering for one person only, but rather cheering for everyone. Later on in the evening I heard him passing that same bit of information on. "Guys, it's not fair to cheer for just one person. Let's cheer for everyone".

I teared up.

As I sit back and I look at pictures of Connor at the Pinewood Derby, and I think about each Derby, I am truly amazed at the growth he has made. Yes; he learned about physics and he learned about air pressure and speed and velocity. He definitly learned some wood working skills as well.

But more so; Connor learned how to be a gracious winner. He learned how to be a calm loser. He learned how to cheer for his teammates and how to mean it. He learned how to participate as a member of his community. 

I still cannot believe that this was his very last derby. I cannot blieve that my baby boy wil be eleven next week, or that he will be crossing over to Boy Scouts.

It seems to have gone by in 4.5 seconds.

But when I watched him last night, and I watched how he cheered, I knew. I knew that he was ready. He has learned so much and he is ready for what comes next.

I hope that we have offered him the right combination of looking good and being strong so that he makes it to the finish line at the right speed for him.  I can only hope that we have put in enough effort ahead of time to prepare him for the race. Given what we saw last night; I'd say we are on our way.

Connor's first derby 2009

Connor's last derby 2013.

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