Fortunately, we have a Tivo this year, so I can record what I like and fast forward through the less captivating (to me) events.
Did you know there's a sport where two men kneel to paddle a canoe? That one made me giggle.
|We don't look at all silly. We're athletes, dang it.|
|I will drown you! Stop laughing!|
And I have to admire this Chilean gymnast's confidence to rock that 'stache:
|I will romance you with my back handsprings.|
My favorite summer Olympics event is pretty obvious: women's artistic gymnastics. There's a sport I follow not at all the rest of the four years in between Olympics, but get excited about every time the Games roll around again.
And then Sam had to go and spoil it for me this year.
"Do you think it's odd," he mused off-handedly, "that we revere athletes in a sport who are required to be adolescent girls?"
Suddenly it all seemed so … sordid.
It got me thinking, as it always does now that I'm a parent: Would I encourage (or allow) my kids to be Olympic athletes?
Oh, don't worry — I know there's no chance. We don't have the genes, or the gumption, for any such thing. This is firmly in the realm of the hypothetical.
But what if my kids showed an aptitude from an early age for something, whether it's sports or something academic or acting or singing or other arts? If they seem to have a natural and expansive talent, should I encourage them toward it?
I remember when I was a kid feeling disappointed in myself for not being a prodigy, and feeling disappointed in my parents for not getting my foot in the door of something flashy: like being a singer on the Mickey Mouse Club, or being a child actor. At the same time, I acknowledged that they'd instead given me an idyllic, pressure-free childhood, where I was allowed to be delightfully, perfectly ordinary.
And now as a parent, I don't know if I could consign my kid to a Michael Phelps-like regimen of hours of lap swims a day, or send him away for better coaching the way Gabby Douglas's family had to choose. I don't judge those parents for making those choices, though. I'm just not sure what I'd do if my child's ambition and talent collided with my own desire to give him a regular childhood.
As an example of (what seems to be) a balanced homeschooling family who's brought up competitive figure skaters, I point you to Deb of Living Montessori Now, who has a blog about Raising Figure Skaters. Based on Deb's example, I have to imagine there's a natural, in-tune way to handle athletic competition and practice (or other prodigious talent) that doesn't veer into Dance Moms or Toddlers and Tiaras territory. I don't mean any disrespect to her, but I'd hate for my kids to spend their adolescence like Drew Barrymore, for an example of someone who's honest about how being a child star harmed her for a time.
So, I'm just randomly musing here. I'd love to hear your thoughts: Do you have dreams of your children becoming Olympic athletes or child stars or prodigies? Have you signed them up for classes or lessons in areas you think they might excel? Would you encourage or tamp down any urging (by coaches or teachers or your own insight) to push your kids into competitive or professional levels in a given sport or talent? Is there an age at which you'd allow them to start being super serious about a sport or the like? How would you ensure a balance between the talent and childhood?
You have three short days more to enter my fabulous giveaway for Jessicurl haircare! I love this line of gentle products so much, because they make your hair look gold medal-fabulous! See how I just connected that to the Olympics? Segue Sam's got nothing on me!