What I learned from the Olympics*… *Not what you think

February 27, 2010

in no manual for parenting,random

We have been watching the Winter Olympics. I didn’t plan to. But what’s not to love really? Finally something on prime time that does not involve dead bodies, sexual predators, or its own mythologies.

Naturally I gravitated towards Ice Dancing and Figure Skating. (No, I don’t really want to engage in a debate about how Ice Dancing does not count as a sport and should not even be included in the Olympics. Thank you very much).

Last Sunday though, we caught a glimpse of the Super-Combined and the boys and I were hooked. We don’t ski. Skiing has never entered my mind as a recreational option despite our proximity to some relatively inexpensive hills in Wisconsin. The word “skiing” conjures up images of Vail and the fancy schmancy aura surrounding “Skiing resorts” in my psyche. Memories of seeing people refusing to do away with their lift tickets still hanging on their zipper pulls long after their last skiing trip without any hope of ever going back again this season.

What was shown on TV was exhilarating. The commentators were talking about Bode Miller as this Comeback Kid. Everybody loves a good comeback story. So we held our breath as he rushed downhill. The camera at one point cut to his mother, I assume, with her hand to her mouth watching her son intently, perhaps with a bit comprehension. The camera zoomed in further to try to catch an emotional moment. Everybody loves a good human interest perspective in the games of sports.

With his eyes still on the screen, my oldest commented,

“You know, when I or [my brother] go to the Olympics? You have to remember that you are always on camera. So you have to remember to look good all the time. Don’t let the camera catch you tweeting or Facebooking! That’s the lesson we should learn here.”


Our job goal as far as our kids are concerned as parents is to never embarrass them. I am sure with me as a mother THIS is constantly on his mind. Later when one of the athletes crashed on the snowy course and thus dashed his dream for any medal, for yet another human interest angle, the camera mercilessly zoomed in on the father who buried his face in his hands, leaned his forehead against the fence, visibly shaking.

My preteen reached across the sofa, grabbed both of my hands, and besought me,

“Promise me. You will never do that! Don’t cry like that if we lose. Promise me!”

I simply laughed. For sure, this is a promise I will not be able to keep…



I also learned that athletes for Winter Sports live on the wild-er side, and they either have no mental filters because they are so adorably honest, or they are simply really really high, like “high”, when they are on the high mountains…

Read this quote from Norway silver medalist Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset as reported in Sports Illustrated… and tell me if it is not one of the best…

“My name is Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset. I skied the second lap and I f—– up today. I think I have seen too much porn in the last 14 days. I have the room next to Petter Northhug and every day there is noise in there. So I think that is the reason I f—– up. By the way, Tiger Woods is a really good man.”

(Sports Illustrated Writer’s note: By far the craziest quote released by the VANOC information desk over the past 13 days.)


Or this quote from Graham Watanabe, a snowboarder from the U.S.

“It’s feeling a lot more like this is my first Olympics. Try to imagine Pegasus mating with a unicorn and the creature that they birth. I somehow tame it and ride it into the sky in the clouds and sunshine and rainbows. That’s what it feels like.”



Update: Naptime Writing had written in a post “Lessons from the Olympics” which has a list of the things she learned about human nature from this Olympics that was observant, profound, hilarious at the same time. Knowing my readers, I just want to emphasize hilarious. I was grateful that she commented on the “fake flesh-colored” costumes worn by the skaters to make them look like they are wearing skimpy outfits when actually they are not. So it’s not just me.


secret agent woman February 28, 2010 at 6:05 pm

When I watch winter Olympics, it’s the figure skating I like.

That quoe by the Norwegian is a hoot. Clearly, some athletes aren’t brain trusts.
.-= secret agent woman´s last blog…"I got a pocket, got a pocket full of sunshine." =-.

Absence Alternatives March 2, 2010 at 3:26 am

I was totally psyched by the women’s figure skating this year. And moved. Absolutely extraordinary. All the medal winners. And they are all so young!

Merrilymarylee February 28, 2010 at 7:20 pm

I don’t see CURLING on your list! tsk tsk tsk

Next time!
.-= Merrilymarylee´s last blog…Tippy, Tippy II Too =-.

Absence Alternatives March 2, 2010 at 3:26 am

LOL. You know what? My kids may actually enjoy watching curling. I should try. Next time!

Kristen @ Motherese February 28, 2010 at 8:06 pm

I love those crazy quotes. I was forced to mute the closing ceremonies long enough to read them to Husband. (He suggests that the second one might be an allusion to a Will Ferrell (?) quote.)

My kids are still way too young to be embarrassed by me, but I know it’s just a matter of time before the eye rolls begin. Is it bad that I am still embarrassed by my parents from time to time?
.-= Kristen @ Motherese´s last blog…Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Maureen? =-.

Absence Alternatives March 2, 2010 at 3:27 am

I am embarrassed by my parents yet at the same time feel guilty about it, and of course, now I am also troubled by the thought that Karma is coming to bite my behind…

Andrea February 28, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Ha, those quotes are great! Makes me want to be an Olympian. :)

And I love that your son is already worried about how you’ll respond when he makes it big. Awesome.
.-= Andrea´s last blog…"Alive With The Glory Of Love" =-.

Absence Alternatives March 2, 2010 at 3:28 am

He is Mr. Optimism. I have no idea where he gets it, but it is refreshing to have someone like that in the house. :-)

Shelli March 1, 2010 at 1:53 am

I have zero interest in the Winter Olypmics. Mostly because I hate the cold and snow, so watching it on tv while it’s happening right outside my door (not the sports part) just makes me feel colder and more depressed. If I happen to catch a glimpse of the ice-skating, I might be inclined to watch it. Other than that, zippo! I am a huge Lost fan, but hate soap operas, and I can’t remember the last time I actually talked to someone about the show. Your son is funny, and well-prepared! LOL Mine is at that age where everything I do embarrasses him. Well, almost everything. Breathing seems to be something I’m still allowed to do without the eye rolling. 😉
.-= Shelli´s last blog…Hibernation =-.

Absence Alternatives March 2, 2010 at 3:29 am

Yes Breathing! I do need to watch my breath. Really… *sigh*

Wicked Shawn March 1, 2010 at 7:14 am

Oh where to begin, tweeting while walking into my daughter’s “power pact meeting” the other night, she laughed and told her counselor, “Mom’s tweeting, she’s more hooked up than I am, cute huh?” She’s never embarrassed by it. She loves me for who I am.
I have made my feelings on the winter Olympics clear. Cold is bad. Plus, they took my Jimmy Fallon away. Worse! Give me back my Jimmy!!!
Olympians are sex freaks, which, I have to say, is surprising. I know most athletes abstain in preparation for competition. Canadaian AIDS group distributed 100,000 condoms, then the Olympic village was running out and they had to scramble to get more??!! You go Olympic athletes!
.-= Wicked Shawn´s last blog…I Hit My Head……… =-.

Absence Alternatives March 2, 2010 at 3:33 am

I am glad you love Jimmy more than Conan otherwise your heart would have been completely broken… :-)

LOL @ your daughter’s comment. Would be nice to have our kids think we are cute. Not sure that’s going to come from a boy?… I will keep my hopes alive!

The condom shortage was fantastic! The news of it I mean. I imagine lots of white balloons floating around the Village. LOL.

Elly Lou March 1, 2010 at 11:13 am

I now officially want to make out with Graham Watanabe and tame his unicorn cum pegasus creature. You know I NEED one of those, right? NEED!!!!
.-= Elly Lou´s last blog…I’m a Team Player =-.

Absence Alternatives March 2, 2010 at 3:30 am

I know you do. 😉 Well, Watanabe has a cute “Fu Man Chu” style beard going on for him (not sure whether he grows it with any irony in mind though). Thought I should point that out: is that a turn on for you? 😉

Unknown Mami March 1, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Those quotes make me feel like I’m on drugs.
.-= Unknown Mami´s last blog…I Comment Therefore I Am =-.

Absence Alternatives March 2, 2010 at 3:31 am

Yup. The one about the Unicorn and Pegasus definitely sent me over the edge when I heard it on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on NPR…

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