Wednesday, August 1, 2012

True American Idols

I can remember sitting down as a child with my family and watching the Olympics. We would pop some popcorn and gather around the television to cheer on the USA; gymnastics and figure skating being my all time favorite events to watch during the Summer and Winter games, respectfully. These times were just like watching Redskins Football: our reaction to winning gold was equal to that of winning the Superbowl; screams, jumping up and down, hometown pride, and maybe even a tear or two. Standing on that podium, holding your Olympic medal up for the world to see, must be the best feeling in the world. Who wouldn't want to be an Olympic athlete? They had their faces on Wheaties boxes and epitomized greatness.

I recall being a young child in the 80's, wearing my official Mary Lou Retton leotard, accessorized with sweat bands for my wrists and head, and equipped with pink dumb bells and the rhythm and ribbon set from Get in Shape Girl. Do you remember Get in Shape Girl? I'd put in the cassette tape and shadow box my heart out, or dance around the room with my ribbon pretending I was an Olympic champion. In the 90's, my sister and I would spend our Summers rollerskating in the garage, imitating the likes of Kristi Yamaguchi, pretending to do triple axels and spirals. Fast forward to my 30's and I still get excited over the Olympics. Watching the 2008 Summer games in Beijing, witnessing history as Michael Phelps won his 8th gold medal (a record for the most first place finishes in any single Olympic games) was beyond exciting. We all screamed with pride in our fellow countryman, unable to believe he actually pulled off this incredible feat. So, it was with great anticipation that I awaited for the Olympic Summer games to start this month.

In the weeks leading up to the opening ceremony there were stories being shown detailing the favored U.S. Olympians journey to London. You couldn't help but be inspired. I looked at my kids and thought, these are your true role models. Proof that you should never give up, always give your best, and even if you fail you still achieved something great; and that is enough to make those who love you so very proud. These athletes, some very young men and women, get to represent their country in the most prestigious event in the world. This is no easy accomplishment, and for them to handle that pressure with maturity and grace is what makes them Olympians.

During the opening ceremony, I thought it very poignant for Great Britain to not choose a former Olympian to light the cauldron, but to pass that privilege onto the younger generation; 7 aspiring young athletes who may become future Olympians. Fred and I have made it a point to have the kids watch as much of the events as possible. I want them to see the battles, the triumphs, and the defeats. I want them to see the skill, the dedication, and the courage it takes these athletes to compete. I want them see greatness, and as a result to see themselves.

I thought all this was falling on deaf ears, until the last few days. Mason has been asking to watch the beach volleyball events and in turn, came up with his own version of the sport, using our beach ball, and begs to play it every day. This morning, I woke up and started preparing the kids to leave for our planned trip to Fairfax Corner to see Reptiles Alive. Mason has been excited about going ever since we saw their Rainforest show a few weeks ago. Any time he can see snakes, and lizards, and such is an exciting time. So, when I asked if he was ready to go and he said no, I was shocked. The archery event was on (remember this post?) and Mason wanted to stay and watch it. As I sat there with him, cheering on Khatuna Lorig, my heart smiled. It was a great moment shared between me and my son. Afterward, I showed him and Sophie the women's gymnastics team final I taped the night before. It is always on when they are in bed so I thought they would like to see it, especially since we won gold! Sophie was jumping around the room, imitating their routines. At one point I looked up to see her standing absolutely still, staring at the screen intently before uttering, "wow, she's good." Mason was really impressed too, and after it was over, asked if I could watch him do his gymnastics moves, "but they are the woman's because its the only one I've seen," he explains. I sat there watching him jump from couch to couch, doing his gymnastics, a big smile on his face as he looked at me and said, "I'm doing really good." It reminded me so much of my childhood. He told me that Sophie wanted to be a gymnast. I told him he could too, or he could be an archer, or a swimmer, "or play beach volleyball!" he exclaimed. Yes! I could see that spark of inspiration, the hope, the dream coming alive.

I hope that I am able to encourage and nourish those dreams and to always give my kids the support and belief that they can be whoever they want to be, and do whatever they want to do. I am a parent and I just want my kids to be great: to have the courage, determination, perseverance, and belief in themselves; to always try their best and never give up. In other words: to have the values of an Olympic athlete. I don't care if my kids are olympic gold medalists, or if their dream is simply baking cupcakes. I only want them to believe in themselves; to know that they have greatness and the heart of an Olympian no matter what they do.

So I find it only fitting the motto of these 2012 Olympic Games in London is, Inspire a Generation. Thank you Olympics, for doing just that!
Pin It

1 comment:

  1. Well said and the hopes that many of us share for our children!