I love the Olympics.
I am certain I could have competed in curling if I had just known what was curling was. Part of me still thinks I have a chance honestly. I’m going to get out my broom and start practicing right now. 2022 here I come! Just kidding. I’m actually just cleaning up these spilled Goldfish crackers all over the tile floor.
This is the first year, I will really get to experience all of the excitement with kids who are old enough to really get it, to understand a little bit of what’s going on and I am pumped up like a snowboarder who just finished jumping and spinning and doing all those loopity-loop thing-a-ma-jigs.
Outside of the obvious enjoyment, there is so much we can teach our kids through the Olympics. And yeah, I am that annoying mom who tries to use every experience to give some kind of lesson. I have no intention of raising kids who become jerks, so I need all the help I can get. And when an opportunity arises to instill values, you bet I’m going to snatch it and hold onto it like it’s the last piece of chocolate cake, which I should probably stop eating if I’m going to start my training to be an Olympic curler.
Here are five things we can teach our kids through the Olympics:
- To love their country. I know this one seems so obvious, but America feels so divided lately. America feels so discontented, like half of us are standing on one side of the room, and the other half are huddled in a corner on the opposite side, and nobody is willing to walk to the middle and shake hands. Nobody seems willing to work together. I can’t wait to show my kids that we are, indeed, still the United States of America. That we work best as a unit. That we work best hand-in-hand. That we work best as a team. That we function best as a country when we all contribute, when we all play our part.
- To work hard. And then work even harder. Nothing (outside of a love for God and a love for others) can out-match the absolutely essential quality of grit. Of being capable of recklessly pursuing something that you desire, of understanding there is always, always room to grow, of practicing until you’re as close to perfect as you can possibly get. Are these athletes genetically blessed with some had-it-at-birth-talent? Yes, of course. Of course they were born with it. But they don’t rely on it. They don’t depend on it. Depending on a natural ability will eventually cause you to level out. But with hard work, with grit—the sky is the limit. Just ask all those arial skiers.
- To fail. Watch the Olympics long enough, and you’re bound to see somebody fall. You’re bound to see somebody face-plant. You’re bound to see somebody’s dreams go down in a wild heap of burning flames. There will be heartbreak. There will be tears. But we have to teach our children to come to grips with failure. It’s just one of those inevitables in life. It’s going to happen. And when it does, we have to teach them that it is OK. It is so OK.
- To get back up. It’s OK to fail, because failure is really just a masked opportunity to get back up. Failure is a chance to rise again. Failure is an invitation to build something new, to become someone stronger, to better yourself, to better your skills, to better your dream. We have to believe we don’t lose when we get down; we lose when we stay down. And we have to pass the belief onto our children. Their futures depend on it.
- To remember there is always a proud momma up in the stands. Yes, a major component of our job is to teach our kids to dream big, to soar, to go off on their own and pave their own bumpy road. That’s pretty much what motherhood is, after all: training up our children in the way they should go. Their own, individual way. It means we make them strong. It means we make them responsible. It means we make them confident. It means we make them ready and adequate and able. But that never ever means we stop watching. That never ever means we stop wildly applauding. That never ever means we stop loving or caring or dancing like a fool in the background. That never ever means we stop being their biggest fan.
So yeah, let your kids make torches. Let your kids make medals and cute little Pinterest crafts. Definitely watch the opening ceremony together over pizza and popcorn and cheer as the figure skaters perform flawless double axles. Cuddle up and cheer and well up with pride as America wins the gold.
But don’t forget the important lessons the Olympics offer. Don’t forget the things we can teach our kids about life from these athletic events. Don’t forget the value behind watching and learning and growing as a family.
Go Team USA!