It's that time of year again: Pinewood Derby! The Cub Scout motto is "Do Your Best". But it's also important to recognize true excellence. Our pack does a good job of balancing those values by giving trophies to every participant, but bigger trophies instead for cars that win for speed or craftsmanship. Even boys with slow cars and no particular skill in woodworking stand a chance of getting an award for "Most Creative".
When I was a Cub Scout, my father showed me how to use the tools and more or less turned me loose on a block of wood. I can't say my efforts were very good and I was always amazed that other cars came out so much nicer than my own. It wasn't until much later that I discovered the truth: other fathers had a much more "hands-on" attitude than my own did. I can't know for sure, but it's hard to shake a suspicion that beautifully carved, sanded, painted, and polished cars have far more to do with the work of the fathers than anything their sons did.
On the one hand, it's frustrating to see children discouraged by losing to (basically) an adult. But on the other hand, some fathers and sons just enjoy working together on a task like making a great-looking car. My son and I prefer to spend time doing other things, like playing board games. Seems like sour grapes to complain that other families enjoy spending more time on Pinewood Derby than we do.
Does it make any sense to explain all of this when we notice boys who are disappointed when their cars perform poorly?