Have you caught Olympic Fever yet?
My goal this year was to teach my three-year-old pal to love the Olympics as much as I always have. I have fond memories of the Olympics dating back to when I was 5 years old. As a family and with friends, the Olympics have always been a time to follow some of the world's most amazing athletes as they attempt to ski, board, swim, paddle, run and even gallop their way to gold medals.
My first Olympics indoctrination came with the preparation. Start talking about the Olympics and how special they are. Build up the excitement for the Opening Ceremonies. The first night is a little long, but one is always guaranteed to see some spectacular sights during the cultural show and by the end of the opening snowboarding scene, I was already being asked to rewind it to watch it again. I was well on my way to success.
The second night we watched ice skating and luge and she asked me, "What are the Olympics?" My answer, "The time when the whole world gets together to be friends and play and compete together." Later we went to dinner at a restaurant with a sport theme and in every direction there were television screens. She pointed at them and said, "Look, THE OLYMPICS!" Inside I fist-pumped, "Yes!"
The next level of success came when we visited my sister, who the Little Bug adores. Sister and friends were gathered watching cross country skiing. The Little Bug was more than happy to climb up with the cool grown ups and watch. The next day we were walking down the street and the Little Bug stopped me and pointed to the Olympic rings logo in a small corner of a street billboard. When we walked past again she again reminded me. Fever was taking hold.
Why instill Olympic Fever? There are so many good reasons to pass it on. First, the pure beauty of the Olynpic movement, learning to befriend people from all over the world and seeing and experiencing new countries, cultures and arts.
Second, to learn respect for and hopefully instill a desire to commit oneself to excellence, to see what hard work can accomplish. Third, every Olympics is filled with the joy of victory and the hard lessons of defeat. Life isn't always fair and the Olympics is one place where these lessons are demonstrated and experienced every day. Great lessons for kids, especially when they grow up in a world where they are too protected from the possibility of feeling sad and all the wonderful lessons we learn in times of disappointment and hardship.
Fourth, to expose young minds to the many fun things you can do in life. Long before I ever skied, ice skated, swam or rode a bike, I saw it first at the Olympics. I learned what interested me, I learned to love sports and what I could do outside, with my body and with my friends. I've worked in the skiing industry, traveled to many fun and interesting countries, and had the courage to try new things because of the example of others I've watched at the Olympics.
Tonight as we watched women's snowboard cross Little Bug insisted we make sound effects as the girls soared off jumps, landed hard and hung the curves. She was glued to the screen. Right now she is sitting next to me, hanging her head upside off the couch watching men's skating. A guy in a suit that looks like a skeleton is pretty exciting to a girl who loves all things scary and monster-like
I think my work here is done. At least for now. She's had her first taste of the Olympics and I hope they will be a part of her learning some great lessons and further developing her character. There is a pure and simple joy to watching the Olympics and so far we've got that covered.
Go Vancouver 2010!