Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Duct Tape Derby

Good grief.
Has it been almost a year since I've blogged?
So much has happened, I can't even relay it all.

Therefore, we will start with what was clearly one of the biggest life events in the last several months -
The time Chloe and Tessa entered a pinewood slot car race.

I know.

Contestants in this race were responsible for showing up to a workshop weeks in advance,
where they would cut and carve their cars from wooden blocks. They would then paint them to their liking, take them home and embellish them, work as a family, and return them several weeks later to be weighed, and checked for rule compliance.

When we showed up for the car-building workshop, it was clear it was going to be all my craft-loving hands could do to keep from completely taking over the car making.
I was thinking sleek, and meticulous.
They were thinking....
Well.....I don't really know WHAT they were thinking.
But like all things lately, they wanted to do it themselves.
*Controlling mom eye roll*

My mind said,
Chloe?! What color even IS that? Don't you want to mix it more?
Tessa?! That's more of a skid mark than a racing stripe. Here. Let me fix it.
But I held back and let them do it.
After all, this was an event "for the kids."

I was capable of sitting on my hands and letting them be in the crafter's driver's seat.
I mean,
I may have needed a brown paper bag to breathe into when Tessa chose to put weird little STICKERS all over hers, but I bit my tongue and just told her she was doing good work.
*bag breathing*
*bag breathing*

After the cars were assembled and the main bodies had been painted,
we were instructed to take them home and work on them more as a family.
I pictured smiling families gathered around the glue gun.
And the intentions were there.
Really, they were.

Cut to two weeks later as those cars sat completely neglected on the kitchen counter by the salt shaker where they had been sitting unmoved the entire time.

The night we were to turn them in and have them weighed, we almost forgot to even bring them.
That's how not tuned in to these chunks of wood we were.
But we took them still.
Covered in dust and coffee grounds, like every OTHER thing we turn in,
we took them.

And immediately upon walking in the door, we regretted it.

As the other cars came into view, our steps toward the check-in desk got slower, and shorter.
From moment one, it was clear that this was SERIOUS business for some people.
These people weren't happily painting cars. There were people still SANDING.
Some had crafted their cars to look like Converse shoes, Coke bottles, Batmobiles.
One guy's looked like it should be in the Smithsonian, it was so amazing.
He said he'd worked for 40 hours on it.

Who even HAS 40 hours?
It would take me 8 months to compile enough free time to equal 40 hours.

I walked to the check-in desk and meekly presented the girls' cars as they stood clinging to my side with big saucer eyes.
We had no idea it would be like THIS.

As the lady took the cars to weigh them, she looked up at me above her glasses and gave me a sheepish pity smile.
And I know those, because it's the same type of smile I get when I tell people I have four kids and they're all girls.

They were grossly underweight. Starving, no doubt for paint and attentive human touch.

"Did you maybe want to take them home real quick and add some weight somehow?" She asked.
"How would we do that?" I asked her.
"Well some people have inserted lead into the wood..." she offered.
Where does one get molten LEAD to insert?
They're lucky ours even had wheels.

"Could I, like, glue some QUARTERS ON or something?" I asked.
"Sure," she replied, shifty-eyed.
I might be paranoid, but I *think* she *may* have hit "record" on something.
"I guess that could work."

She didn't look like a believer.

So I did take those suckers home. That very minute. I bit my lip, and I gathered my change, and I searched high and low for the flipping glue gun, with which to attach said quarters.
Of course it was nowhere.
Justin was no help when I asked, either. He just kissed me goodnight, shrugged his shoulders and went to bed.
This was it.
The weight of their slot car fate rested on me now.
So what did I do, you ask?
I did what anyone wise does in a pinch.

I duck taped those puppies.

I duck taped six quarters to the bottom side of each of their cars, and I wrote their names over top in black sharpie like a boss.
Names that looked like an ape wrote them.

Then I returned to the check in location.

This time their weight was perfect.
The only problem was, with the quarters attached to the undersides, the cars wouldn't clear the slots. They wouldn't even roll.
Not one inch.

NOW what?
The deadline for check in was three minutes away.
Without time for another option,
Without wanting to chuck the whole idea and just leave with two downtrodden girls,
With Alena gape-mouthed by my side,
I ripped that duck tape off of the bottoms of the cars with all the quarters attached and reattached that monkey scratch duck tape to the tops of their cars,
transforming them both completely.
And not for the better.

As if they weren't ghetto enough.

"You're not REALLY doing that, are you?!" Alena hissed.
"Yes. Yes I am," I answered.

Now, not only were they barely sanded, and very oddly painted, but they were literally COVERED completely in lumpy quarter bearing duct tape.
And to make it worse, they couldn't even discreetly enter these beauties, because that duct tape bore their names so boldly, you could have seen them from space.




We checked those cars in, and slunk away in shame with our faces covered like we thought we were the Jackson kids.

Chloe tugged at my arm and asked,
"Mama, Why don't anyone ELSE'S cars have their names over the whole outside?"


"Just KEEP WALKING, Chloe !"

Don't look back lest you turn into a pillar of salt.

Today was the race.

But rather than do what seems like the obvious choice -
To not show up ever ever again in case someone realized the horror we'd created;

We went.

We went,
and we raced,
and would you EVEN believe it -

Tessa's truck -
That weird green truck with the yellow smears barely peeking out under quarters and duct tape with her name like a billboard TIED FOR FIRST in her division.

That duct tape car was faster than the four she raced against combined.

You should have seen our faces.

Utter disbelief.

Next year, I think we will probably do things a little bit differently,
But for now we will hold onto our duct tape derby cars,

And we'll hold them up high.