“Mommy, I was wishing that!”

March 19, 2004 | 5 comments
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Last night I attended the Pinewood Derby races for my sons’ cub scout troop. My wife loves woodworking of all sorts, so I have never made a Pinewood Derby car. At our first Pinewood Derby, now many years ago, my oldest son thought that the highest numbers on the electronic scoreboard were best, so he was excited whenever his car came in sixth out of six. My wife quickly learned the tricks of the trade, and he won the next year.

Last year one of my twins (Conrad) placed second in his first-ever Pinewood Derby. For some reason, the other (Christian) had a slower car, so this year Sue made sure that they switched roles and gave the faster car to Christian. In one of the heats, Christian’s car crossed the finish line first. Parents and family were seated in the bleachers of the elementary school gym, and Christian ran over to us. We were congratulating him, and his obvious excitement made everyone smile. Then he said, “Mommy, I was wishing that!”

I am a complete sap for my kids, and I almost started crying. I love to see the simple faith of children. Of course, immediately after, I started wondering whether the five boys who didn’t win the heat just hadn’t wished hard enough. That’s the problem with competition: someone is always a loser.

Anyway, I managed to purge those thoughts long enough to enjoy the moment with Christian. When he received his trophy, he said, “This is the first thing I have ever won.” Boy, we need to let him out more.

5 Responses to “Mommy, I was wishing that!”

  1. Karen on March 20, 2004 at 4:40 pm

    Gordon, apparently I’m a complete sap for your kids too, because you made me tear up a little. :o)

    Your post brought back very fond memories of all the church activities I attended growing up. I love that the church gives kids chances to do things that they might likely not do otherwise. Camp, sing, play on sports teams. Am I the only person mourning the slow loss of the roadshow? I know it was a ton of work, but it was also a chance to be part of a community theater production. (Not to give a bad name to community theater…or imply anything about quality…) :o) I’m just saying, my family didn’t camp very much, I wasn’t in school choirs, on school sports teams, or in the theater club, but I feel like I got a taste of all of those things through church.

    I was doing some church history reading a couple of weeks ago, and the emphasis on cultural development all the way from a century and a half ago struck me. I find it interesting how attitudes and cultural traditions from the “pioneer church” are still alive, just adjusted to our times.

  2. Gordon Smith on March 20, 2004 at 8:08 pm

    Thanks for the thoughts, Karen. One aspect of Church life that I greatly appreciate is the emphasis on lay preaching. My first exposure to public speaking was high school debate, but my children have numerous public speaking opportunities before they get to that stage in their lives. Unfortunately, they do not always believe me when I tell them how lucky they are.

  3. Jim F. on March 21, 2004 at 8:04 pm

    Karen, though I agree with you about the importance of such things as the roadshow, camping, etc., I had almost exactly the opposite reaction to Gordon’s post.

    I remember how my sons were almost always hurt considerably by things like the Pinewood Derby. Each year they worked on their cars with their incompetent father, assuming they had a chance. Each year (but one) they were not only disappointed but a bit humiliated with they came in dead last–at least partly because so many fathers in the troop took over the creation of the cars for their sons and went to extraordinary lengths to give them an edge. For example, one father, an engineer, worked on his son’s car in his engineering office to make it the best possible. So my sons always believed they had a chance (but didn’t) and I always saw the contest as a pretext for father’s competing against one another. The one time my second son won, I gave in and imitated the other fathers. In addition, that year there was a weaker than usual field. The problem was that having my second son finally win a Pinewood Derby made my first son feel hurt that he never had.

    As a result, my experience with the Pinewood Derby–and to be frank, with church Scout troops in general–has been mostly negative. I don’t believe that most LDS troops actually use Scouts to teach the values they purport to teach and, in many cases, they teach quite the opposite.

  4. Russell Arben Fox on March 22, 2004 at 1:27 am

    I have to agree with Jim; in my experience, church Scouting units rarely live up to the principles (or even the basic standards or practices) of Scouting. I genuinely do not think we’ve served that organization well, or at least haven’t in quite some time (the union between Aaronic priesthood activities and advancement and Scouting before correlation forty years ago was, from what I can tell, less formal and less uniform, and hence less subject to abuse).

  5. Gordon Smith on March 22, 2004 at 2:21 am

    In light of Jim’s comment, I should clarify that my wife didn’t really make the cars. My sons did that. Yes, that’s what I meant to say. (Actually, they did help with painting, weighting, testing, etc., but we would not allow them anywhere near the saws that are required to shape the cars.)

    By the way, everyone assumed that this is a Church-sponsored Scout troop, but it isn’t. The Church here does not have enough young boys to create a viable Cub Scout troop, but the community scout troop is very active. This has been, by far, the best scounting experience we have had.

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