where wildly different is perfectly normal
Permission to play
Permission to play

Permission to play

The boys are Cub Scouts. Some people love the scouts, others revile them. Me? I’ve seen what good the Boy Scouts did for my brother and I’m a supporter. I do not like their politics (I’m as liberal as they come), but I think my parenting has considerably more sway over my kids than an organization, so let’s just leave it at that.

Today I took the boys to a Pinewood Derby prep afternoon. The derby is in a few weeks, and a dad with a workshop opened it up for the pack to come in and get their cars ready for racing. There were only a few boys there, so I had plenty of opportunity to work on the boys’ cars.

Yes. Me. Power tools were involved, the boys (all of them) quickly got bored waiting, and everyone in the house was happier with the kids entertaining themselves as the parents power-tooled their way to 5.0 ounces of racing weight.

And I discovered something. There’s always been a lot of “commentary” about how the parents build the cars instead of the kids. Well, besides the whole power tool thing, I had another thought.

Working on the cars gave us permission to play. It’s for our kids! We must drill and sand and weigh! We’re not doing it for us, it’s for our kids! It’s permission for us to play. I loved wood shop in school. Ok, middle school, but I loved it nonetheless. I still have a few things I built there, including a kick-ass clock that I’d still use if I could find a clock mechanism that would work. But I loved working with my hands, seeing what I could create with scraps of wood. The smell of sawdust, the roar of power tools…loved it then, love it now.

I don’t take enough time to create for me. Playing with my hands today for my sons brought that home to me. I wish there was somewhere I could go play with power tools. Plenty of places to knit, to scrapbook, to craft…but nowhere to learn DIY home repair or play with power tools. Why I don’t just go create without concern for my boys is beyond me.

So remember that when the Pinewood Derby comes up and the cars look like they couldn’t possibly be created by 10-year-olds. Because they probably had a great deal of adult help. Not just because a 10-year-old is an ER visit waiting to happen, but because it gave the adults permission to play.


  1. Awww! I am glad you enjoyed it. I have a less forgiving view of the scouts. I REALLY dislike their politics and I tend to be rather stubborn about some things, so my kids will probably never participate….unless they change their politics which isn’t very likely.

    It’s true though, we adults need to play sometimes too!

  2. On top of the fact that you had fun, I think it’s so good for your kids to see you having fun like that. They can tell when we’re faking it–when we’re slogging through hours of legos or geotrax, or whatever. The whole family enjoys a different energy when the parents are having fun, too.

    1. Jen

      Good point. Unfortunately, they were upstairs with the other kids, running around and rousing rabble. LOL! But when J would venture back into the basement to see how I was doing on his car (seriously, chipping away at the wood with a chisel), he saw I was having fun. 🙂

  3. Elizabeth

    I don’t like their politics, but we put DS1 in anyway. And it does give him some great stuff. We’ve met good friends through there. I’m not crazy about his den leader. DS1 has been on probation for six months now. I’m not sure they’re ever going to take him off probation. He is intense and when he started in scouts, I’d just had a baby, so I didn’t get to take the den leader aside and hubby didn’t think of it. Meanwhile I assumed they knew the downlow about our son and they didn’t. Long story short, we got to the private meeting with den leader, pack leader and assistant pack leader. It felt remarkably like an IST meeting at school. While they agreed to try to work with us, it was with the understanding that they can toss him without warning the very next time they feel he’s gone beyond the invisible line.

    DS1 can be very challenging, yes. But the other thing they seem never to notice is that he’s the youngest in the group. It’s done by grades in our den and he’s in the one that he would have been in in regular school, but his birthday is in September, so when he started kindergarten he was four. Most of the other third graders are 9, and two are 10. Add in asynchronous development and he is significantly less mature than the rest of the group.

Whaddya think?

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