My life, for the most part, revolves around my children. Most parents will say the same I am sure. We're always rushing around to baseball practices, or swim meets, or whatever activity they have that day. Last weekend, while Yankees fans flooded to the Bronx for the Subway Series, I was in the stadium for a different reason. The Pinewood Derby.
Boy Scouts from the Bronx came and rallied right in the Great Hall. Under a picture of Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada embracing Mariano Rivera. It was kind of... epic. Of course, these are first to fifth graders, and most of them don't fully grasp how great that is. Here you have this energetic group of kids standing under banners of these phenomenal players... greeted by Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson, and they were completely oblivious to everything except their Derby cars and the Trophy table a few feet away. Complete and utter focus. The Great Hall humming from their excitement.
If you've ever been a scout or if you've raised a scout, you know the time that goes into those Pinewood cars. We had to sand down my sons car three times alone, just to get the color to go on right. Then you have to make sure the nails that make up the wheel axels are smooth and have graphite, and put enough weight on it to make it zoom, but not so much that it drags. It's a process, and these kids are excited because they worked damn hard for their final product.
My boy, we call him RJ, is sitting right in front. His Spiderman car isn't the most aesthetically pleasing, because lets face it, neither my husband nor I can draw a stick figure. But there he sits, waiting patiently for his Den to be up. And then his name comes on the board, and he gets all fidgety and nervous and almost seems to want to bury his head in the sand. I have to remind him, it's about having fun. And the gates are opened and his car completely destroys the other three cars. First race of four down, and my kid is strutting around like a peacock, showered in high fives by the boys around him.
He gets first in the next race as well, then misses first by .002 seconds the next two. Still, he did pretty well over all. So he sits, and cheers on the boys that have become his friends in the two hours sitting around this track. They share lunch and laughs, and my kid is really enjoying his childhood. He's making friends and just laughing his heart out. It's awesome. He's got this huge smile plastered all over his face. His little car missed placing top by all of .004 seconds.
I wasn't prepared for how devastated he'd be. All he could say was "I was just so close." And what do you say to that? He's right. He was very close. And it's tough when you get that close to something just to have it denied to you. If you'd just pushed a little harder or if you'd only had that extra something. You could've made it... you almost did and then nothing. It sucks!
We started leaving, and all these boys he hadn't previously met came over to wish him well. The next race is June 27th... they made plans to meet there. These little wooden cars had forged a friendship between these boys, and while they all couldn't win, they had a bonding experience that no one could take from them.
We walked home that day. He was quiet the entire way. He hadn't spoken much until later that night. We sat out in the stands to watch the last game of the Subway Series. We were seated around a lot of the same boys that were now calling him "friend." Together they discussed all the reasons why the Yankees were better than the Mets. A lot of the boys left early... it was an evening game on a Sunday, after all. But the few that stayed continued to bond. They made plans for adjustments that needed to be made to the Derby cars, while cheering for the Yankees.
My RJ lost the Pinewood Derby that day, but he gained so much from the experience. Those boys... he may or may not see them again. But for that one day, in Yankees stadium, they were a little brotherhood.
--Erica Morales BYB Senior Writer
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