“Here, put these three hats on and try to walk across the laundry room. You are the Japanese. I’m the Russians,” C instructed his older brother B. The Olympics have descended upon the Schneiter household. New Olympic events are being created each hour. After watching the men’s gymnastics, my boys were flipping and twirling down our stairway. I’m sure they felt athletic and fluid as they went flopping and thudding down the steps. At least the scores they were giving each other reflected champion status.
There is a new furor for the race: swimming, running, hopping… Our youngest is struggling over this. A’s the one begging for it, begging to line up beside his older brothers and race through the living room, to the kitchen, and back around to end up in the TV room for his triumphant finish. Each time he doesn’t win, which is every time we don’t make B lose, is a major emotional upset. A might be getting some of these pointers from the London athletes, but mostly it’s in his nature to find losing extremely frustrating. His lips pout; he hits the sides of his body with fists clenched and cries, “B won! I lost. I not faster than B.”
The other day B named himself B Phelps and C morphed into C Lochte. Cultural observations are being drawn also. “The Japanese and Chinese are rivals, but the Chinese are better,” C surmised. Then he added, “Russia and Germany are rivals too, but no one is rivals with the US. People stop trying when they compete against the US.” What? Remember, he’s 5.
My sons are learning a lot this summer. I was feeling like a bad mom because I decided to not push any type of literacy this summer, but instead decided to focus on the art of play, but now that we’ve been engrossed in the Olympics, I’ve concluded I’ve done my scholastic job by emphasizing geography. My boys now recognize flags and country abbreviations. They are learning which countries are in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. They are learning about language…just listen as a Chinese gymnast is on an apparatus. They are getting music appreciation each time an anthem is played. Points for Mama!
Exposure to culture and diversity is also happening…it isn’t every day that we get to see synchronized swimming or diving, cycling, badminton, pommel horse, or even beach volleyball. We are watching as a family and it is something we are all enjoying, no more Power Rangers! At least we are getting a few weeks off from all things cartoon.
B and C are learning a bit about England. (I'm assuming A is a bit too young, but he might just be absorbing it all.) They’ve finally got all the names sorted out, “Whose Great Britain? Who’s the United Kingdom?”
I love that their world is getting a bit smaller, more attainable. The other day we were driving back from Idaho and Bren decided to explore the GPS. He started giggling, “There’s China! Now I’m in Portugal. Hey, there’s Russia! Dad! Dad! I found Manchester United.” Each boy took turns with the touch screen, whizzing over land and sea, zooming in and out.”
Thanks to the Olympics, I’m going to get a gold medal this summer for achieving a bit of educational learning. It was touch and go for a bit, but now when the boys return to teachers and books this fall they will be able to read such words as Botswana, Dominican Republic, and Australia. And if there’s a flag recognition game, they might just smoke their competition. But mostly they’ve seen what years of dedication and hard work can give someone: satisfaction and pride. Not a bad lesson to learn. I love the Olympics.