Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sometimes I Jump onto Soap Boxes...


You know how I am not crafty, in that I am not very good at CRAFTS. However, if there were no swimming, bug eating, or bikini wearing I would SO win Survivor due to my insane craftiness. Anyway...

My kids got to participate in their first pinewood derby races last weekend. Ya know, with those little wooden blocks you shape and paint and turn into a little car you race down a track, right? We were so excited! We bought two cars for each kid (since we knew we needed to consider a large margin of error) a whole month and some days early. Talk about being totally prepared!

Do you know how fast a month can go by though? Yeah, I thought about 3 days had gone by since we had purchased the cars, when in fact THIRTY days had gone by! Those zeros are important man, and sneaky...

Now, we fully understood that aside from handling the band saw, the kids were responsible for all the work. This was in the rules, and hey, what's the point if we do everything for them? Ya followin' me here?

I must admit, this was the first time my kids actually executed a project that came out looking much better than some random globs of brown-ish paint slapped on to an obscure surface. Because of this I cannot wait to see how the ornaments turn out this year!

First they had to pick out a design and draw it out on the car. Just a simple line. That's all. But, once I saw that their lines looked like they were drawn by a drunkard taking a strange sobriety test, which NO band saw operator could ever follow, I knew I would need to draw the lines myself. Psh. It's just a line. And they did try...

So then our good friend cut the shapes out and we kept all our fingers. Awesome.

Next it was time to get sand paper, primer and pick out paint colors. With themes in mind, they picked out their colors, we got our supplies and headed home to begin the weekend of derby car building madness.

With a little guidance and a few "how to" examples our kids busted out some pretty cool cars. And no, these pix aren't set up; I didn't jump up from painting, forcing my kids into position saying, "pick up the brush and pretend you're painting! Now!" No, NO...I did not.

This is Jacob's Blue Aqua Tank:

This is his Fire Car, or as I call it, the FYAHHHHHH CAHHHHH!

Here is Audrey's Tiger Car, which, by the way, got the second fastest time of the night in one of its races:

And her sparkly Lightening Car:

We were so proud!

Now I must add that hubs and I did try to polish the axles and add weights and junk like that, as it was recommended. But truth be told, we really had none of the proper equipment, and we had no idea what we were doing, since we collectively read about 3 sentences from several websites. And therefore we probably spent too much money on stuff we barely used. I mean, there is a side of us that wanted their cars to be awesome and fast...sometimes spending money makes you feel like you accomplished that.

So when we got there, we saw many great cars, obviously done by kiddos who worked hard, cars that were not taken over by parents suffering from OCD and chronic competitiveness. But, then there was this...table...

A table with a sweet grandpa sitting there, kids all around, working frantically on cars. He had NINE grandchildren participating in this derby and, get this, he did all the work.

Picking out your paint color and slapping on a sticker or two does not qualify as child participation. Especially when some of the kids are 12 and 13. Just sayin'.

Every year he does this for his grand kids. He picks out a fancy shape, does some fancy stuff to them (like adds weights, totally legal) and cuts them out, sands, paints, etc. The kids merely tell him what color they want and they slap on those stickers. Every.Year.

Now, yes, it took all that was in us to not take over the work on our own kids' cars and make them as awesome and as fast as we possibly could, with the abilities we had, but, where's the lesson in that? Where's the sense of pride and ownership for the kids? Where's the ability to create and think and work on completing a task, beginning to end? I mean, our kids are disappointed because they didn't get trophies for winning, or for design, but they LOVE their cars and they are so proud of their work!

So really, I don't care that two of the three trophy winners were his grand kids' cars, really I don't. In fact, he replaced an axle on Audrey's car after it jumped a track and it bent, which we thanked him for profusely, because it made Audrey's car do even better. I mean, it was obvious which cars were done by parents (there were quite a few) and which were by kids so, I can't fault him for his efforts to stay competitive for the sake of his grand kids. But, what DOES make me so perturbed is thinking about his grand kids' attitudes.

I got SO sick and tired of watching his grand kids run up to him, race after race, and whine in his face something like, "you didn't oil this car enough!" or, "You picked a lame shape!" or, "You didn't make it fast enough!" Not a hint of thankfulness, not a bit of understanding of how much work he put into those cars for them. No hugs, nothing.


Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. I opened my big, fat, meddling mouth.

Me: "Wow, so, you did all the work on the cars, huh?"

G'pa: "Yep. I did."

Me: "Really? All the sanding, panting, everything, for all 9 of them?"

G'pa: "Yep. Every year!"

Me: "Man, you would think they would be a little more appreciative, don't you? I mean, maybe they should do that work themselves!"

G'pa *blinks* "Yeah, you're right they probably should!"

Me: "I know! I think you should cut them off and make them make derby cars every week, all by themselves, up until the next derby! They sure don't seem thankful for all the work you have done for them!"

G'pa: *nervous chuckle* "Yeah..."

I stopped myself there. I knew my toes were just fitting past my teeth and I was teetering on stumbling over "the line" but C'MON MAN!!! That G'pa worked hard because he loves those kids, and, just as many of the young people these days have this horrible sense of entitlement, his grand kids overlooked ALL of that. Too many kids these days barely have to work for anything. The skill of working with one's hands has been diminished to a Wii controller or texting on iphones. The idea of honoring and respecting an elder is as far from their minds as it can be. There are too precious few who get this. It's tragic.

I didn't get to see my grandparents a lot when I was young. And I still cherish being taught how to play cribbage by my mom's dad, a game I play every Sunday over coffee with my hubby, and my dad's dad, who got me my first bible and read me the book of Genesis. Both of my G'pas have passed on now. Those are some of my fondest memories with them. I just hope those kids, when they grow up, are thankful for what he did, OR they do all the blasted work themselves next year, and learn a few new skills such as working on your own projects and how to lose gracefully. *Stepping off soap box*


w said...

i saw all these pics before anyone else. so they're kinda old to me, man.

again with the old, man. it's sad really.

i want to participate in a danerby.

this is a to be first comment.

you know what i mean.

Kearsie said...

Man. The injustice of it all.

Also, maybe if I paint some glittery lightening bolts on my black car it will be fixed and drive really fast. Ask Audrey what she might charge for that.

Vanessa said...

I am *so* glad you said something! I hope he went home with a lot on his mind, and then gave his grandkids a piece of it!

Unknown said...

Those cars are cool!

Now, on to grampa...hopefully he grows himself a set and tells those kids to do it themselves next year...

Creative Junkie said...

**shoving my soapbox next to yours**

I feel the same way when we go to the kids' science fairs and you see these ginormous skeletal systems of a T-rex or something equally as huge or intricate and you know damn well that kid did NOTHING on that project.

I'm glad you spoke up ... next time, round up all those grandkids with a bullhorn and a loudly screamed NOW LISTEN UP, PUNKS and then tell them how the real world works.

Honestly, it pisses me off when kids are unappreciative.

Dee at Pedestrian Palate said...

Cool cars! Great job!

Sara said...

This soap box is warranted. Those kids will miss him a lot when he's not around to make those cars, and they will feel wretched for being ugly about it. Also, I want a tiger car. Please.

Miss Fit said...

I'm impressed you said some thing to him! Your gutsy. I like it. I can't take ungratefullness. That said. Your kids cars are great!

Matty said...

I remember making these cars as a kid for cub scouts, and my son doing the same and all the races. It looks like you and the kids did a great job especially not knowing what you were doing.

Miss Fit said...

P.S. I gave you an award.

Stephanie said...

Oh those cars are FIERCE! You should be all kinds of proud:)

And yeah you for helping Grandpa umm see the error of his ways:)

Aries said...

Very creative. Happy mother's day to you.

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