The Penguin Racer

March 15, 2010

Up here in Maine, we don't have a lot of kids--which is unfortunate, because we have a ton of trees, and from everything I can tell as a mother, kids love to pee on trees.

Anyhoo, we don't have a lot of kids, which means we don't have a ton of Boy Scouts, which means there's almost no one to race against in the Pinewood Derby. To make a long story short, the Pinewood Derby would be ridiculously lame if it wasn't for the fact that every man, woman, child, baby, dog, inmate, and so on and so forth is encouraged to participate.

The morning of the Pinewood Derby, I made the executive decision that it would be bucket loads of fun to build a car. Jared was at work, Maggie was napping, and James and I had nothing but time, initiative, and fabulous ideas.

After a few slight-to-moderate mishaps with the rip saw, we went to the competition with this little beauty in our hands:

That's right. We call it The Penguin Racer.

It's red, it's shiny, it's decorated with Sharpie marker, and you guessed it--The Penguin Racer came in dead last.

I won't mince words here--that car sucked a major heap of sh!t. Not only was it beaten by a crayon, a dragon, and a seriously clunky toilet paper tube contraption, but that good-for-nothing penguin barely made it to the end of track.

That penguin is a bastard.

James did his absolute best to hold in his tears, and so did I. I tried to teach my son that winning isn't everything, but two words into my speech I was like, "Oh screw it. Let's get some brownies--they'll help us stuff down these terrible feelings of inadequacy."

While we were numbing our pain with fatty foods, I asked James, "So what can we do next year to help our car go faster?"

Without hesitation he said, "We can have Daddy build it."

And without hesitation I said, "Good idea. If Daddy can loosen his grip on his fishing rod for six or seven minutes, I'm sure he'd be happy to help you with your car."

It was all very touching.

Luckily, James walked away with the "Great Effort Award."

He's definitely walking in his mother's footsteps. And let me tell you, the path is lined with all kinds of sportsmanship trophies, citizenship certificates, participation medals, and various other signs of mediocrity.

But he managed to act pretty thrilled. See?

When we got into the car, I asked what it means to win the "Great Effort Award." He stopped, he thought, and he said, "It means that your car losed, but your tried so hard."

"That's right," I said. "It also means that your toy penguin is a bastard."

The End.


X-Country2 said...

Parental WIN for sure.

Kirsty said...

Dude, we totally win that competition every year. And do you know why? Because my husband is an engineer. And he puts his life's blood into it. It's actually pretty tragic in its own way. Also our cars are really ugly. (In my non-engineering opinion).

If it were up to me, there is no way that little block of wood would make it out of that little box (they do give you a block of wood I trust? Or is Maine so woodsy that you are expected to go out and cut down the tree yourself??)

That penguin *is* a bastard though. You can see it's smug little expression. I don't think penguins are actually known for their speed though, so maybe next time you could perch a toy cheetah up there or something. Or maybe even a humanoid. Like the speed-racer fellow. I think that might make all the difference.

Kirsty said...

Btw, when my kids walked in the door just now I said, "oh I have to read you something so wait, maybe I shouldn't. " And they said, "why, does it have bad words?" And I said, "well yes, kind of" and then they proceeded to quote a paragraph from another of your blog posts that I had read to them against my better judgment (without knowing, I must add, that it was you I was intending to quote to them this time).

So I went ahead and read it to them anyway. And they were *delighted* with the swearing. It made their 9 and 11 year old day.

Is it bad that I feel pretty much no remorse over this?

Blaine said...

I see that the problem was that the penguin was steering the car...they are awful drivers. You should have strapped him to the top of the car and then he would have added to the aerodynamics and killed the competition.

At least they encourage outside participation. Here everyone can tell that the winning car was built by a dad who is reliving his cub scout days through his son. Just remember to tell James that when he grows up he can remember this day, grab his son's car and carry on the tradition.

jed-laura said...

Alli got to do this a year ago, and her car was awful. I didn't have any weights for the car, so we super glued quarters to the underside of the car- a winning strategy for sure. The only issue came when I over-superglued, and glued the wheel-bearing to the wheel. Needless to say, if the wheel on one side doesn't turn, it doesn't perform well, or stay on the track for that matter.

Megan and Sean said...

I just choked on my cookie, you really should have a disclaimer. *Caution. Consuming food or drink while reading Amy's blog may be hazardous to your health* This especially apply's to me b/c I have to run and hide at my computer so I can scarf down cookies w/o my kids finding me.

paige said...

soooo been there, done that.
tooooo many times...
The Violin Car...
Police Car...
Carrot Car...
Losers all.

Brittany Kalaj Margulieux said...

That last photo is so fabulous! The JOY! I laughed. So. Hard.

chattypatra said...

I am the Queen of the Losers, so this is a story I can totally relate to, for sure. I must point out that James is not to blame here. Just least you taught him what is really important in this life - brownies!

Grandma said...

I lol'd when I saw the pictures!!and the quote 'it means you losed!" A blue ribbon is a blue ribbon is a blue ribbon!! Toyota might be able to learn a few things about slowing things down from the Penguin!!!

Gina said...

Ahhh..the pinewood derby. I do not miss those days. Every year, my son would work hard on his car and every year some little douche whose dad did all the work would win. They seriously need to have a separate race just for the dads. Then they can have a big penis-measuring contest.

Bahston Beans said...

Congrats James! You are following a great family tradition. This brought a tear to my eye.

Karen said...

I love penguins so much but seriously...what were you thinking? Penguins waddle!

Unknown said...

Yeah, my kid didn't win the Pinewood Derby either, but I blame it on the fact that we went for style points instead of aerodynamics. I refuse to rent a wind-tunnel to test out his car. Don't tell anyone though, but I'm glad we lost so I didn't have to go to the regionals! Ugh.