The Race

The snow was so deep I could leap off our carport and into it without breaking a leg. Nights were the best. I’d stand with my head towards the sky which was so dark, I couldn’t follow the snowflakes until one landed on my eye, and I felt that cold tingle run through my body and into my moon boots and idiot mittens.

Makes my eyes water just thinking about it.

Snowstorms at night have a way of silencing the surroundings. If I listened closely, I could hear the snowflakes dropping from the sky. At least I thought I could when I was in fourth grade. But I was certain I could hear my heartbeat. I was alone, but I felt so alive.

Last night, I had the same feeling as I watched my son participate in the pinewood derby.

As a parent, I hope my children will overlook my many weaknesses. They are on display each day although I try to keep them hidden. Like last week when I dropped two cups full of Diet Coke in the van. Or when I stubbed my toe on a hand weight.

Conversely, I pray my children will acquire enough good traits to neutralize the bad ones. Some days, I know the negative traits are outpacing the positive.

One trait I recognized in my son last night was humility which he got from his mother. After a few races it was clear his car was doing very well. He raced against his close friend five or six times. And when he won one race by several feet, a few kids made fun of his car’s simple design.

At his age, I would have lashed out at those boys. At the very least, I would have danced around the gym after collecting my trophy.

But Lincoln just smiled.

I was proud of the work he put into the car. We spent hours working together to prepare it for the race. He sanded and painted the block of pinewood. He also asked a lot of questions. We discussed topics such as aerodynamics, balance, and friction.

Last night he acted with grace that belies his age. As the night came to a close and he placed his “Red Blaze” back in the shoebox, I thought back to those snowy nights when I was his age. When I felt so alive.

And I realized that I’d won before the race even began.

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