Go to fullsize image  The Olympics have finally begun!  We have been so excited over here at our home.  Why?  I am really not sure.  We just love to watch the Olympics and follow the stories of athletes both young and old reaching their dreams.  Even when an athlete doesn’t place where they would hope, you have to admire their commitment, courage and love for their sport/s.  I can’t even modify my diet for a month, much less stick with any regimented training for most of my life.  These people are committed and so are countless parents that have supported and followed their children to the ends of the Earth to chase their dreams.  It’s really amazing to see what people can accomplish.

These Olympics have been especially fun to watch because both Zack and Anson are old enough to get into the competitive excitement.  When we were watching beach volleyball today for a short while, we taught them that if the ball hits the ground the team scores.  So everytime they saw the ball land in the sand, they would pump their fists in the air and yell score.  Swimming was just as fun, but harder for them to pick out who they liked best because you couldn’t really see the caps/colors in the pool.  Gymnastics was a tense moment for them as well, as they waited for the guys to fall (or not).  It was very interactive viewing with them.

What I love most about it, is that it inspired them to “try” several of these new (or new to them) sports.  It also was a great opportunity to talk about how hard everyone was trying and it was great if you won, but wasn’t it also awesome if you just finished?  Teachable moments, I tell you what!!  Well, after watching a little of the games, the boys created their own Olympic venue in our backyard. 

The first event they created was the hurdles.  A particular favorite of Zacks but not so much of Anson’s although he follows along trying to keep up with his older brother.  They have done this in the past, but today there were more hurdles and they were taller and wider than usual.  Zack has long, limber legs that are great for running and jumping so of course he won all the medals.  Anson also got medals but if he were truly running a track meet he would have been disqualified every time because his little pudgy legs could never jump long enough so he settled for sort of hopping past them off the side when he came to them.  The hurdles were things like rows buckets, riding toys, and rigged up jump ropes.  This event was a little stressful for mom because 2 days ago, Zack received a bloody nose (again) from attempting an indoor version of this.  He’s been obsessed with this event ever since the time trials were on tv.  I have a hard time squelching this interest.

The next event was a version of volleyball that involved no net and simply hitting big bouncy balls to each other.  3 bouncy balls were in play at one time and if any of them hit the fence around our yard, you scored a point.  They would pump their fists and high five each other any time one of them scored.  It didn’t matter that they were technically on different teams.  Any success was a shared success.  Gret tried to get in on the action but was quickly distracted by some flowers that were blooming.  Her attention span is still about 3 minutes long at 18 months.

Volleyball then led into some gymnastics on the swing set.  They would swing from the board above the top of the slide to propel them faster downwards.  At the bottom, they would jump up and kind of “stick the landing”.  If you couldn’t stand up, you lost.  Then they created their own version of the rings on the hanging bar of the swing set.  It involved pushing each other on it and then jumping off mid-air to land.  Anson created this really wild game he called “rocket” (if you know him in real life, you would know that rockets are a very popular theme for him).  They would both straddle a swing (there are 2 swings that are side by side) facing each other and try to hit each other or avoid being hit, by pushing back and forth with their feet.  Giggles quickly turned to tears when they actually slammed into each other.  I am not sure who won that competition.

We all got into a rousing game of soccer after dinner.  Tomas was kicked out of the game because he kept getting to caught up in the action.  First he broke one of the pickets in the fence when he shot a goal.  The goal was an area of the fence.  Then he went a little overboard and kicked one of the bouncy balls HARD at the goalie, Zack.  Zack bravely took it in the face which resulted in crying and a small amount of swelling.  He did save the goal though, and shook it off fairly quickly.  Tomas was ejected from the game for illegal moves at that time.  What we did notice though, was that Anson is AWESOME at soccer.  What a good little offensive player he is.  At 3 he can dribble with both feet while running full speed and then will even attempt to shoot from the outside into the goal.  When he just takes shots on goal, he dribbles at full speed and without stopping will kick the ball with amazing aim into the goal.  He’s better than me at this point.  Do I see a potential soccer star here?  We can dare to dream.

In all, the boys Olympic games lasted 4 hours total!  We couldn’t believe it!  Who says a little television can’t be beneficial?  (I like that reasoning, don’t you?) Once they watched a sport for a couple minutes, they would run out the door wanting to try it.  Who am I to stop their dreams of medals and “goals”?  Of course, our backyard was a total mess at the end of the day, but that’s beside the point.

I think it’s important that children are exposed to any and all extra-curricular activities throughout their school years.  Involvement in sports, music, dance, clubs, and other arts have consistently shown to increase a child’s focus, improve self esteem, and provide important positive character traits such as honesty, commitment, and fair play.  When children have to transition from middle school to high school or even to a whole new school system altogether, being part of a unified group such as a sports team, music ensemble, or club will allow them to feel secure in the support of this smaller unit.  When they have goals that can only be reached by working with others and taking care of their own bodies, it creates a sense of responsibility that can prevent them from delving into some not so “nice” activities such as drug use or sexual promiscuity.   After all, they won’t want to let the others down or weaken themselves (or at least that’s what we hope!). 

Let the Olympics be a possible spring board to explore your childs interests.  If they are interested in a certain activity, let them try it out or go to watch a local similar event so they can know that it’s out there waiting for them.  Be sure to watch for Zack running the hurdles and Anson playing soccer in the 2024 Summer Olympics.  I just hope I still look good when they feature us in the boys mini-bios and that I don’t have a really ugly cry for joy while on camera.  I am a VERY VERY ugly crier.  That’s my Olympic goal, to look pretty while crying in 2024.