Each Year We Make A Pinewood Derby Car. It’s Always A Scramble.

Each year I help Tristan make a pinewood derby car for cub scouts. It’s always a scramble. Not because I’m lazy. More because I’m not the best with tools. Or fixing things. I work behind a desk at a university and I have very soft hands. But since becoming a husband and father I’ve had to overcome a lot of that. Not that I’m a craftsman by any means, and not that I own all that many tools. I don’t. I watch a lot of ‘how too’ YouTube videos and I swear a lot. And sometimes, like with Tristan’s car, I have to ask friends for help.

I don’t know why I dislike asking other men to help with projects. It might be a pride thing. It feels like, as a man, I ought to have this stuff down. Sometimes it feels like, because I’m a man I should have been born with a hammer in my hand. But because I wasn’t, there’s something wrong with me. And some of it comes down to the fact that I didn’t have a good relationship with my own father, and working with tools, in some strange way, reminds me of what I never had with him.

But what I don’t often think about until I get into it is how I’m rebuilding those moments I missed with my father, with my kids right now. Sure, I’m on the other end of the equation. But it feels warm nevertheless.

So here we are, at a friends garage. He has a lot of woodworking tools, and so we asked him for help. Tristan and I talked about what he wanted the car to look like, and then my friend told us how to use the tools he had, and once it was all said and done Tristan looked up at me with a big dimpled smile and told me, “thanks.” And it wasn’t a preteen sarcastic thanks, but a real one. And in that moment all those insecurities of fatherhood and masculinity melted away. I gave him a hug. Told him, “you’re welcome, dude.” And then we talked about what color we wanted to paint his car.


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