Passing the Torch: A Series on Olympic Truths
Collin was just 7months old when the 2010 Winter Games were held in Vancouver. Now, at the age of 3, I feel obligated to explain the Olympics to him. So, I let him take a long nap on Friday so he could stay up to watch the opening ceremonies with me. (Relax – it’s only every two years!)
I’ve only ever played on one sports team in my life (a disastrous tale for another time) and visited two countries other than my own (though I hope to change that). But, you don’t need to be an athlete or a globetrotter to appreciate what the Olympics symbolize.
In explaining the meaning of these international games to Collin, I discovered some truth for myself.
Truth 2: Everyone Can Bring Home the Gold
“Mommy, can we watch the liquors?” Collin asked.
“What?” I asked him, puzzled by his bizarre request.
“On TV. With the tires,” he said.
Tires? Ah – the Olympic rings. “Oh, you mean the Olympics,” I told him, as I turned on channel 11.
Watching the Olympics on TV is an exciting pastime for many families all over the world. But, I think you know what I mean when I say it’s extra special experience for us this year. Like I do in my classroom, I tried to make the Olympics relevant to Collin’s world, which may be why he’s so eager to watch.
Obviously, having a hometown hero to cheer on makes the games infinitely more exciting. I showed Collin pictures of Michael Phelps before the Olympics even began. “This is Michael Phelps,” I told him. “He’s from around here, and he’s the best swimmer in the world.” I didn’t want to go into detail about medals or records quite yet.
Swimming, in particular, is a great sport for Collin to watch because it’s a quick event and he’s been learning to swim, too. When we watch the events, I help Collin find Phelps’ lane number and he yells, “Go number 4!” I point out the American flag, too, and he yells, “Go stripes! Go stars!” “USA! USA!” hasn’t quite caught on for him yet.
The other cool thing we discovered via our local paper is that Michael Phelps went to preschool with my husband. Collin is getting ready to start preschool, himself. Who knows where he and his classmates might find themselves?
Most people didn’t notice the ground during the opening ceremonies. My husband and his father are sod farmers, so I pointed out the rectangles of grass covering the set. I explained that Daddy and Grandpa use the tractors to make grass like the kind we were seeing on TV.
When the actors gracefully rolled and hauled the sod to indicate the beginning of the industrial revolution, I was impressed. I explained to Collin that the pieces of grass were very heavy – weighing almost as much as him. I didn’t go into too much more detail about the sod, though. Being a farmer’s son, I figured he’d find out for himself soon enough.
During the Parade of Nations, I pulled up a world map on my computer to show Collin where the different countries are. Someone must have shown him a map before because he pointed right to the United States and said, “We live there.”
“Very good!” I told him, moving his finger to the tip of the Chesapeake Bay. (We aren’t in Kansas. Still, not bad for a 3-year-old!)
I showed him how small our home is compared to the entire planet and explained that the world is a very big place full of lots and lots of people.
As the different countries were announced, I showed Collin where they were on the map. I mentioned people we knew who were from those places.
“Mommy has a lot of students from Nigeria and Cameroon,” I told him. “Some of our friends from church are from the Philippines,” I explained. “They have beautiful beaches there.”
“My good friend Mag is from Slovakia. We should go visit her in the mountains some day.”
When the Parade of Nations was over, I told Collin that God made all of the whole world and everyone in it. “Some people look different than us and believe different things than we do but they are all God’s children and deserve our respect. We are all God’s children, no matter where we come from,” I told him. “And seeing everyone from the world together side-by-side at the Olympics must make God very happy.”