It Takes a Pit Crew

April 28, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop | 20 Comments
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Bright colors, shiny cars, cold beverages. Cheers, tears, and spectacular crashes. The occasional brawl. Zippered pantsuits.


Am I talking about NASCAR? Or toddlers? Turns out, they’re not all that different …

Top 10 Reasons NASCAR is Like Toddler-Rearing*
1. Playgroup on Wheels
There’s the gentleman. The rule-breaker. The aggressive one. The just-plain adorable one. The new kid. Every driver has a reputation. Just like every kid in your playgroup. At least in NASCAR, though, the one with the perpetually runny nose smears snot on his own steering wheel.

2. The Push Factor
Tailgating: It’s not just a suburban phenomenon. On the track, kissing bumpers means reducing wind resistance. And when drivers work together? Man, they fly. Likewise, watch two toddlers in cahoots willing to collaborate. The speed! The sheer volume of Legos! The amount of goldfish smashed in their wake! Man, they fly.

3. The Blowout
It’s always a tough choice. Do you pit your car and get two tires? Or a whole new set? Can you make it to the end of the race without a blowout? Ahem. Can you make it to the grocery store, the post office, the bank, the gym, and the dry cleaners on just one diaper? Do you change the kid halfway through? Or do you coast home on an ultra-absorbent wing and a prayer?

4. The Yellow Flag
A crash, a ricochet off the wall, thick smoke from a blown engine ā€” out comes the caution flag. Everybody slows down. Some drivers play nice. And others bob and weave and bump, impatient to just Get. Going. Already. The yellow-flag toddler equivalent? Timeout. Sometimes the kid plays nice, waits quietly, says sorry. And other times? Oh, the bobbing and weaving! The head-butting and shoe-throwing! The crocodile tears and hysterics! Proceed with caution indeed.

5. Gotta Have a Pit Crew
No driver can win a race alone. There’s the crew chief, the gas man, the jack man, the chassis man, the spotter, the mechanics, the tire changers, the tire handlers. Everybody does a job. Everybody makes sure the driver has what he needs to, well, drive. The toddler crew chief? Mommy and Daddy. The rest of the team? Grandparents, siblings, teachers, coaches, neighbors. It takes a village pit crew to raise a child.

6. Say What?
Find your groove, hope for a draft, watch out for dirty air, and don’t forget your stickers. Then hold on tight till silly season. Huh? Sort of like when my son can’t decide between dip-it mouth and hot juice, NASCAR drivers and toddlers have a language all their own.

7. Product Placement
I know you’ve seen it. The sweaty, greasy driver careens into victory lane, snakes out of his window, and busts open a bottle of Gatorade or good ol’ Coca-Cola. He takes a big, looooong swig, his fingers placed just so around the logo. Only then, once his sponsors are clapping their hands gleefully thirst is quenched, is he able to talk to the reporter standing anxiously by. Product placement is equally important in the Dinner Race. A pile of M&Ms placed just out of reach on the table? And the broccoli your kid has been slipping the dog under the table becomes the Best. Food. Ever.

8. Around and Around
Cars drive in a circle. Around and around. Again and again. There are lots of cars. They do go really fast. And some laps feature nail-biting crashes, daredevil passes, and lucky turns. But really? It’s the same old routine. Sort of like a day with a toddler. Wake up (too early). Eat, poop, play, sleep. Eat, poop (optional), play, sleep. Round and round till we all fall down.

9. And …. Flameout!
The race is winding down. Three laps to go, no cautions in sight, everybody cruises toward the finish. Then, bam! Somebody crashes. Screech! Smoke! Sizzle! A flameout. Car’s out of commission, head back to the garage for repairs. Much like a toddler after too many errands, not enough lunch, and no nap to speak of. Flameout. Toddler’s baked, head that minivan back to the garage.

10. The Checkered Flag
Last lap! Lead car heads down the straightaway! Fans are on their feet! The checkered flag flies feverishly! Go, go, go! (I bet you see where I’m headed.) Dinner! Bath! Books! Bed! Go, go, go! Steer those tuckered kiddos all the way to dreamland. And then? Enjoy the stillness. There’s another race tomorrow.

* Thanks to my technical adviser for providing NASCAR details, definitions, and driver information.


Do you see similarities between sports you follow and child-rearing? Who’s part of your parental pit crew? Are you a NASCAR fan?



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  1. I am not a Nascar fan but I am going to the Indy 500 again this year. Why? Not to watch the cars really. But to have 3 days of uninterrupted child-free, adults-only, party-hard bliss…

    • I’m not really into NASCAR either. (We happened to watch the race this weekend and I was struck by the similarities to my daily life with toddlers.) But for a long weekend getaway? I might just become a die-hard fan! =>

  2. So clever!!! I never would have thought of it, but… huh… you’re right!!!

  3. You almost lost me at Nascar and then I saw that there were toddlers involved – Fun! I love the parallelisms; so well crafted.

    And the blowouts…OMG do I remember those. Especially since it happened once when I got a group of moms together for the first time for a meet and greet and my Little Miss had an “episode” while I was carrying her and it got all over the front of my cashmere sweater! Thought to bring extra clothing for her, but not for me. Of course. Good times.

  4. Stacia, brilliant! You’ve got to send this somewhere – to a Parents’ Magazine – because it is so funny! Comparing the seemingly uncomparable is great!

    Love Around and Around – though it also reminded me of when the kids say, “Mom, Look!” and then they ride their trike or bike around you once and again, and again and again. Just like Nascar?

  5. Very clever…and given the fact that I’m raising two boys a perfect description of my day. I could particularly relate to number 8 as I’m fortunate to have a real live Indy race around my kitchen island almost every day.

  6. I especially love #7 & #9… and although I’m not a Nascar fan, my son picks that over EVERY OTHER SPORT if we’re watching t.v. on a Sunday afternoon. Much to my Yankee chagrin.

    PS. I agree. You should find a Nascar publication to send it into… or at least put it on their fan page on facebook or something!

  7. You have a gift.
    I am sooo happy to have moved beyond (at least I think so!) #3. Even though I’ve learned to change those tires – ahem, diapers etc. – lickety split.
    I can remember watching NASCAR with my Dad – the wrecks, of course! – but until recently I hadn’t seen a race since. I did find the race against an empty tank to be pretty compelling. But my brother-in-law went in person last year, and came away talking about how his face was black with road grime at the end of the day. And that’s just a little too much awesome for me.

  8. Loving this allegory, even though I don’t love Nascar.
    My husband is fond of reminding me that as soon as we have baby #3, we will officially have moved from a man to man defense to zone.

  9. Thank you so much for this clever extended metaphor. I love it! Not only does it describe my life pretty accurately (the flameouts have been sadly frequent this week), but it also gives me new insight into Nascar, which I desperately need since moving to a part of the country that appreciates it far more than I do.

    I add my voice to those of your previous literary agents/commenters: submit this list for publication!

  10. Not a Nascar fan, but loved this! Great analogy! I’ll have to remember the pile of MnM’s placed just out reach for the future!!! šŸ™‚

    PS ( I wanted to tell you, the pic of Teva with “carrie Bradshaw”….that whole time she kept looking back at that magazine like she was saying…”Get outta my frame SJ!”. It was hilarious!)

  11. Oh, I knew you had some kind of help with those awesome descriptions. Perfectly done.

    Thank you for popping over today, and I’m glad you love the book of letters idea as much as I did….we can do it, right?

  12. Great post – I love it! I am thinking that becoming a Mom could also be compared to running a Marathon. First you prepare your body – eating well, lots of sleep, appropriate exercise regime, buying all the things you need in preparation. Then the long, long race, at the end of which do you feel triumph, yes, but also you are utterly and completely knackered!!

  13. I’ve always thought of raising toddlers like herding gerbils. Thanks for giving me a new (and more respectable) perspective!

  14. I loathe NASCAR but absolutely love this post. I think I’ve been a perpetrator of the 7-errand-1-diaper escapade. Always a touch-and-go affair.

  15. You crack me up. How are you so darned clever? Aren’t you days away from giving BIRTH?

  16. Absolutely love this analogy! Great post!

  17. Not a NASCAR fan, but was entertained by your post. The Checkered Flag is my favorite. The stillness part – where a mom can finally breathe at the end of the day.

  18. These are GREAT! Spot on! #7 is most relevant to me as my son has decided not to eat any meals unless his dessert is ON the table. Right in front of him. If it’s not placed there for him to lust after, forget it.

  19. Love it. I’m not into NASCAR, but I know enough to really enjoy your list!

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