I don’t think I’ve ever attended or watched a sporting event where our national anthem was played and not teared up. Well, there was that one time my beloved Packers played in the Superbowl and certain pop diva who, in her vocal histrionics, massacred the lyrics. So once. I don’t ugly cry, just mist up when it’s played or sung. This speaks more to my sentimentality than patriotism probably, NOT that I am not patriotic, geeeezzzz. In sport, I love that the anthem represents sportsmanship and hope at a game’s start, and in the Olympics represents a lifetime of specialized, often brutal, physical training and achievement for that. I love the Olympics.
There’d been so much negative press about Rio de Janeiro prior to the games, so for balance, I did what I have done frequently in recent years–just stopped tuning into the news. The reports of squalor and Zika and condom overabundance was taking away from the spirit of the games and the athletes themselves, diminishing MY Olympic dream. Rio has proven itself underprepared in many ways, but this blog is not a treatise on green diving pools, collapsing byways, or sewage bubbling up in the athletes’ rooms (although, eeeeewww, and not the funny kind of eeeeewww whatsoever).
I missed the opening ceremony, which left me feeling like an outsider from the get-go, because I do love the parade of nations. I’m sentimental, have you heard? I was so happy when the IOC decided to stagger the Olympics to alternate the Summer Olympics and the Olympic Winter Games so that I don’t have to wait a full four years for the next spectacle. (The previous sentence has no place in this paragraph–sorry for my lack of unity, but I really am happy there’s an event biennially, that’s all. Plus, cohesion isn’t my strong suit–you must know that by now). I missed the opening, but have been drawn to coverage of Rio 2016 much of the last week. I love the Olympics, but don’t super love my cable provider whose prime time coverage is riddled with digital glitches. It’s bad, Time-Warner, really bad.
Athletes competing in lesser-known events like say, biathlon in winter or synchronized diving or triple jump in summer become household names for an evening into the next day’s headlines. As they should. These athletes are no less laser-focused in their training, or dedicated to their sport than the likes of a Katie Ledecky or a Simone Biles, but let’s be honest with ourselves: we are not going to spend hours in front of canoeing coverage when women’s gymnastics, swimming or beach volleyball are available in prime time.
I’d like to offer this post up to participants in the events airing at 2:00 AM, to those whose efforts are extraordinary and who deserve their moment in the sun. Those whose names are but a flash in the pan, yet have excelled and should have their moment to revel in their Olympic achievement. Though you’re the best in the world at your craft, you’re still in some way underdogs, so GO, UNDERDOGS!
With that Olympic spirit in mind, I’d like to acknowledge exceptional effort in other events, non-Olympic in caliber, but still, deserving in their way. Now please rise, remove your caps, and join us in the singing of our national anthem.
Procrastination: The gold goes to my number one son. Seriously. Two words this mother fears more than any other in our language: Not yet. My son has elevated “not yet” to an art form. Did you practice piano today? Not yet. Did you walk the dog? Not yet. Did you take a shower? Not yet. I could go on, but I feel these are a good start, and if you’re a parent, you very likely understand.
Doing Nothing But Watch: Also known as the hypervigilance event, I’m a sold silver medal winner here. I have spent the last week, essentially doing little more than watch our new dog in a (hopefully) preemptive strike against peeing or pooping in the house or chewing something I’d really rather he’d not. He’s peed a few times, pooped twice, and last night really enjoyed a black ink pen all over the carpet, so I can’t award myself a gold. BUT, the zillions of things he hasn’t destroyed or crapped on? Go, me!
Unwavering Optimism: It’s like a tie silver medal to my husband (not like he’s tied with anyone for it, but like in the Olympics where two dudes hit the timing pad at the exact same microsecond in the 200M Butterfly event. You kinda end up in second, but it’s just slightly unsatisfying, you know?) For his belief in my son’s baseball organization, and belief that next season will be much, much stronger and more organized, he gets a tie silver medal. Though our son was actually recruited by two other teams, my husband decided to stick with the known entity. There is something to be said for being the half-full kind of guy, even if his half-empty wife doesn’t quite understand that decision making.
Collecting: Sure, he’s new to our home, but Caleb has demonstrated expert skills in collecting. He’s been a member of our family for eight days now, and has snatched, but not destroyed one tennis shoe, two different sandals, my little guy’s compression underwear and athletic supporter cup, a rubber bracelet, a baseball cap, cartoons my son has drawn, about 38 socks, and more Kleenex than I care to count. But since he’s a rescued stray, he’s awarded a bronze. It could have been much worse. Help us all if he improves this, ahem, “skill.”
Sock Abandonment: If ever a gold medal has been deserved, it is most well-deserved by my number two son. The instant he comes home from school or anywhere really, he removes his right shoe and sock. Not both, just the right, and he finishes his day just like that unless he goes to baseball practice. If you’d like to locate the abandoned socks, well, so would I. I have a feeling the dog just might become a contender in the sock collection event soon though.
Asking, But Not Listening to the Answers to the Questions: This could well be my older son’s job, so gifted is he. He gets gold for the inquisitiveness. Really, I appreciate the stuff he puts out there, because it does reflect some deep thinking at times. Other times, um, GOOGLE! But when I work up a thoughtful response I believe to be appropriate for his developmental level and accurate re: content, and he’s yakking the whole time I’m talking? Gold medal performance for consistency here as well.
Most Unexpected Drop of “For Christ’s Sake”: It’s a good thing I wasn’t drinking that icy Coke Zero, because I am certain I would have sprayed it all over the sidewalk. The kids and I were walking to the library a few days back, and Caleb was being Caleb. He’s pretty OK on the leash, but has no sense of orderliness as he walks. He has to sniff everything, which I understand is part of being, you know, a dog. My little one was commanding the leash, and after about seven minutes, huffs “For Christ’s sake, can’t this dog walk in a straight line?” GOLD! PS–He totally got that from Barenaked Ladies’ If I Had A Million Dollars, not from me. Not even the tone. . . And yes, of course I talked to him about it! What kind of mom do you think I am?
Chasing Moths Instead of Peeing Before Going Into the Crate at Bedtime: Now if the event were Catching Moths Instead of Peeing Before Going Into the Crate at Bedtime, my dog would have to train super hard, and maybe hope to make an appearance in the 2020 Tokyo games, but chasing? E for effort, man. Not sure it’s a gold, but podium-worthy to be sure is his effort. Bronze.
Blissful Unawareness: Silver to my husband. The kids are up at my parents’ place for a few days, and I’ve said no less than eight times that their return date is up in the air, that my parents and my kids’d make a game day decision about coming back. Doesn’t stop him from asking me twice a day exactly when they’re returning. “So the kids are coming back Friday?” *sigh* Is this thing on??
Blissful Unawareness: Gold to the older gentleman at the grocery store earlier this afternoon. I’ve never witnessed an individual take up or invade so much space in four aisles as this man did. He covered the entire dairy case with his cart and self, crashed into my cart twice, and nearly took out a woman reaching for the light sour cream. Honestly, he’s going to kill someone. His state of (un)awareness is unprecedented. Or he’s a giant jerk. You pick. I think he wasn’t a jerk on purpose; that’s my pick.
Really Inappropriate but Pretty Funny Corporate Naming: It’s a sweep. Gold, silver and bronze to a car towing company whose truck I saw in the grocery parking lot. Had I not been recovering from whiplash from my demolition derby shopping experience (see above), I’d have had the presence of mind to pull out my phone to get a snapshot. I feel like I missed an opportunity of a lifetime not getting a photo of the Camel Towing truck. Wait for it. . . The truck was gray with pink accents, I shit you not.
Not Being as Funny as You Think You Are: All me. All gold. All the time. I’m an easy crowd, and if you can’t or don’t laugh at the folly modern parenting has to offer, well I am genuinely sorry for you. I laugh a lot because I am really funny. No, I laugh a lot because life is too short to be jerky all the time, and not to find the good, even when you’re not 100% feeling it. In one of my all-time fave films, Singin’ In The Rain, Gene Kelly sang “Gotta Dance” because that was his gold medal event. I gotta laugh–that(‘s the podium I was born to stand upon.