This is a photo of Sam's Pinewood Derby car, six hours before the big race.
(Unfortunately, this is also how it looked at race time.)
Poor Jay. He labored intensively over this car for days, with Sam doing his part with painting, decals, axle prep, etc. When Sam left for school the morning of the impound, he was smiling from ear to ear in anticipation of that night's race and the fact that his entry was the best car the Di Silvestri house had ever turned out.
Jay was doing a final weight check when he saw it was just a smidge over the limit. Anyone who has ever had a Cub Scout knows that any car over the limit does not race. Period. So, Jay used his time honored trick of drilling out a little bit of wood from the bottom of the car to edge down the weight.
The next thing I knew, Jay was standing in front of me, the car in pieces in his hand, with a completely horrified expression on his face. Apparently, the drill hit the internal weights he had positioned near the back, spun them around and irreparably damaged the car. All he could think about was facing Sam and telling him he had no car to race that night.
The school had a morning mass that day, so he did not have long to torture himself. Jay intercepted Sam on his way back to class after mass, delivered the bad news and waited for him to crumble. Oddly, this did not happen.
Sam, although definitely disappointed, was completely consoled by Jay's promise to spend some special time with him over the weekend to make up for the lost race. I was thinking that Sam would want to go miniature golfing or bowling, just him and Dad. But, no. He surprised us both by asking to simply help Jay prepare the dinner for the monthly Knights of Columbus Family Movie Night.
At first, Jay was unsure about having Sam in a commercial kitchen where he was making dinner for 175 people. Plus, he was making chicken wings en masse for the first time and wanted to concentrate on making them correctly. After only a moment's hesitation, however, he acquiesced, and so off Sam went to join Jay in the kitchen.
When I caught up with them several hours later, I was met with perfectly prepared buffalo wings and a beaming father and son. Turns out, Sam was an actual real help in the kitchen, breading somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 chicken wings after being taught what to do. He was so proud of himself that he carried himself differently all night, and Jay was bursting with his own pride at how Sam had handled what could have been a disastrous situation.
Instead of crying and moaning over how unfair it was that he didn't have a car after working so hard, Sam spent one of the happiest afternoons of his life working alongside his dad in the kitchen, providing a real contribution to the meal.
I have no idea how this worked out so well. I wish I could say I had some wisdom that helped this come about or, more important, that I learned how to turn around a situation like this again in the future, but I don't. I'm just slack-jawed and grateful, but not half as grateful as Jay. Go, Sam!