I keep hearing from friends who talk about how into the Olympics their kids are. I have to say that mine aren’t so much. My husband is, and believe me, he wants Anna and Avery to sit glued to the screen and express their burning desire to one day stand on the podium, but really, they’d rather play Littlest Pet Shop.
Anna, in particular, is less than inspired. “I never want to do that!” she’ll exclaim, watching the gymnasts and runners and rowers. “That just looks like a lot of work.” That’s my girl. We’ve had the Olympics on TV a lot and, regardless of what she says, she gets sucked in by the races and high dives and uneven bars and especially high jump. She loves the high jump. She’s declared, however, that the team sports are “booo-ring!”
Avery has more enthusiasm. She’s keen on practising somersaults, but only on our bed. Sometimes she lands with a wobbly flourish, but more often, her efforts reward her with goose eggs on the floor. She’ll get there. She’s willing to put in the work! (She has also provided my favourite Olympic quote: “Are these racers going to jump over turtles?” Ha! She’s the best.)
I enjoy the Olympics, but often seem to miss the events I’m most interested in. I did catch some of the heartbreaking soccer game yesterday between Canada and the USA. Argh! But I think the thing about the Olympics that I find most compelling and inspiring is the message relayed about the power of positivity. You know, I often wonder how many of these athletes love what they do or have just been sucked into the Olympic machine and super-high expectations that are set for them — that whole idea of who wouldn’t want to devote most of their life to train for the Olympics? (Besides Anna, of course.)
But over the weekend, I watched a little backgrounder on Canadian boxer Mary Spencer and how she was a troubled kid, suspended from school, and met the right guidance counselor who helped her channel her energy into athletics. He convinced the school to let her back in and helped her find a love for boxing. To paraphrase this man, we need to give kids not just second chances, but third and fourth chances. They’re worth it. They deserve it. For Mary, his belief in her helped her find a healthy passion and set amazing goals for herself. That’s the kind of story I love to hear.
You can never underestimate the gift to kids of being the person who believes in them and teaches them to believe in themselves. I watched a 14-year-old girl win a gold medal in the pool this weekend. How do you even know you’ve got what it takes to be in the Olympics before you’re 14 years old? It’s crazy, but it’s because someone tapped her on the shoulder and said she could. And she believed she could.
Who knows what our children are capable of, really? I don’t think kids need to aspire to world greatness in anything, but I think the Olympics have been an important reminder to me of the power of positivity, and of bolstering our children’s confidence in themselves and in their dreams, whatever they may be. And not just our own children, but every child.
Is your family into the Olympics? What are your kids getting out of it?
Photo by SouthEastern Star via Flickr.