Some 20 years ago, my sons were scouts and participating in the Pinewood Derby. I had a meager shop and agreed to host several scouts there to have them work on their car kits. Dads were invited, too. I had enough files, rasps, coping saws sandpaper and paint to share around.
Actually, my shop was in the basement of my ex-wife's house. I lived in a one room rental and was waiting to some day relocate it all. Anyway, I wanted to stay connected to my kids and also encourage them to stay with scouting. Despite some short comings, scout IS SO very worthwile for kids. But I digress....
So I had a handful of boys in the shop and a few parents. I had one boy though that wanted none of it. He looked like one of the kids you would always pick LAST if you were choosing sides to play ball and, at first, I thought he just felt like an outsider. I came to learn he was there with his Dad, who had just stopped living with his family. This kid was angry! His world had really changed. Despite the father's best efforts to involve his son, these two just couln't work together. The kid wanted out. I could see this man trying his best to re-connect with his son and just not being able. I knew his pain. I don't think he was all that handy either, which only added to his frustration.
Well, it hadn't been too long since I had gone through a similar time with my own sons. I spent time talking to this kid and had my boys talk with him as well. In the end, the boy agreed to work with his dad and together they made a car from the kit.
At the end of the day, the father thanked me (a lot) for some how getting he and his son to a place where they could work together. They seemed to be closer. They left with their car and, I think, did some more work together elsewhere.
Well, the night of the race came. My son placed around the middle of the pack, despite my best "mechanical engineer's" advice. I tried to be as "hands-off" as reasonable so my son really would OWN the car. But the night was about running around with your friends as much as it was about the race (as it should be) so he wasn't too disappointed. I was about to call my son so we could leave for home when I was approached by the father who I had helped work with his son in my shop. His son was busy running with the others, so it was he who showed me the first place trophy his son had won. I don't know how they did it, but that's not important. He again thanked me not only for the opportunity of having he and his son work in my shop, but for whatever my sons and I did to bring them together so they could work.
Over the years my sons and I have made many things together, which, for me, is a great source of pride which I enjoy looking back on. In that same league, I still remember the combined look of pride and gratitude that other father's that night and I tuck that away with my mental trophys.
Sometimes it's more than a race....