Out with the gold...in with the old - FamilyEducation

Out with the gold...in with the old

August 25,2008

The Olympics are over; our evenings just got a lot duller, and last night, as we watched the closing ceremony, we felt decidedly deflated. August is definitely a dark period in TV watching, and the Olympics were a bright spot shining in the midst of lots of bad reality shows and tired repeats of Law & Order episodes. Plus, everywhere we went, people were talking about the Olympics. On our parenting support group's Yahoo board, people were excited about Michael Phelps. He grew up with ADHD! And he was teased as a child! But look at him now, eight gold medals later, Phelps is a role model to young kids struggling everywhere, and to their parents--each victory of his is a testament to the power of determination and involved parenting.

I'm really not a huge sports-watcher. I will watch huge, talked-about events, and I love the personal stories behind the athletes and their trials and triumphs. But the Olympics are more than just a sports-watching experience, I think. And this was the first year we shared them with the kids--particularly with L. When Scott was away in Canada two weeks ago, I let L. stay up with me and we ate ice cream sundaes and watched the opening ceremony until L. himself admitted he was too sleepy for more. But as we watched, I thought about what it must be like to see that ceremony through a child's eyes (untainted by any understanding of lip-syncing controversies  and political criticism)--magic brought to life through technology and billions and billions of dollars. I'll miss the mock Olympics the kids set up in the kitchen, and  the look on L.'s face the first time he watched a medal ceremony. I'll miss seeing T. stand at the pool's edge, her little fist upraised: "I an Olympic diver!" she proclaimed, and then hurled herself off the edge and into the water.

I vaguely remember the awe I felt when I watched Olympics coverage as a child. I have treasured memories of how much my Greek grandfather loved the summer Olympics (and the World Cup)--especially the track and field events. I can see him sitting in the comfort of his favorite chair, intently watching the events and interjecting theoretical and philosophical comments about athletic prowess. I never really had an Olympic dream of my own growing up--although I did once want to play at Wimbledon--but watching my kids watching the events, I could see just how the magic of the Olympics could ignite a spark in a young child's heart, a spark that might smolder for years until it takes light and then there they are, streaking ahead on the track, or reaching for the wall and for the gold medal they always dreamed about.

And now the rest of August stretches ahead, filled with bad TV. Even my guilty junk-food pleasure of the summer--Tori & Dean Home Sweet Hollywood is over (Scott heaved a HUGE sigh of relief about that, let me tell you), and my much more cerebral PBS mystery shows--this one and this one--are done, too. Heroes doesn't start until September 22, which seems eons away now, in the dog days of August. So give me some hope here--what do you watch in this no-man's-land of bad reality shows and repeats? Are there any shows that are best kept secrets of yours, or must I console myself with HGTV, archived Olympic footage and bad YouTube videos?


I'll miss how excited the kids were to eat after-school snacks while watching equestrian-events highlights on the laptop.