Thursday, March 4, 2010

Olympic Inspiration?

Have you ever wondered if you would have fit in better in a different time period?

For the past two weeks during the Olympics, I have found myself wishing that I had raised my children in different decades.

Earlier because things were more straightforward, or later, like now, because moms in 2010 have some remarkable examples to motivate children.

As she brought up her children in the fifties and sixties, my mother in law was firm about children attending school whether they wanted to or not. I respected and admired her for this. My husband, responding positively to this inner confidence went to school every day and actually won prizes for consecutive days in attendance.
They look pretty serious or even confused, but these children went to school anyway.

Not so my children in the eighties and nineties. The trouble in our house began when one of my children was sent to school against his wishes because he knew, inside his confident little self, that he was getting sick. "Nonsense," I said, thinking to live up to my mother-in-law's worthy example. I sent him on his way. An hour later, the school called to say said child had puked all over the classroom.

He didn't want to go to school. 
After that victory, there was simply no living with this particular child. He wasn’t crazy about school anyway, considered it an interruption. Now on days when he didn’t want to go, he held his stomach and said, “Remember that one time? Remember when you sent me to school when I said my stomach hurt and I threw up? Do you want that to happen to me again? Do you want them to have to call you again?”

A few years later during the early years of the Internet, I was in graduate school and received an email from this same child home sick. His father had taken the day off to care for him.
"things are bad here. Dad's making me clean my room tho i'm really really really sick. when are you coming home?
love from,
the sicky"

It turns out that he's a natural teacher. Loves teaching, helping kids work together, knows how to talk to students, how to motivate them to be their best selves, and he is, in fact, in graduate school earning his master's degree in education. Hated school, fought against going and now finds himself called to one of the most richly rewarding professions (I'm not talking about cash).  Hmmm... how is that possible? What did I miss?
What's not to enjoy when you can play poker in the back row during a school band performance? Not that anyone would ever do that...

The problem with the eighties and nineties was that the only example at hand of an athlete that was useful for inspiring children was Michael Jordan. (Mike Tyson, for example, was not what I had in mind). And I used Michael Jordan. I wasn't the only mother to do so. We with normal children all used him. His story became a sort of a chant among certain mothers when their children were mad or crying or pretending not to care because they went unnoticed at school or were outright (justly or unjustly) rejected. “You know, we’d say,” eyebrows up for emphasis. “Michael Jordan didn’t make the basketball team his tenth grade year. And look at him now!”
Eric Hidin'
And eventually there was Wayne Gretzky who was rumored to have never been forced to practice. He wanted to practice! He begged to practice! He refused to come in out of the Canadian cold so he could keep practing all through the semi-darkness of the Canadian arctic day. That, my dears, I would say, is how he became The Great One.

someone is still not smiling

But if I were raising my children now in 2010, I’d have a truly remarkable role model. Were they crying because they were afraid of the school bully? Were they throwing up and so didn’t want to sing in the Christmas Concert? Were they suffering from a 101 degree fever on the way to their first ballet recital?

You can't tell little "Ribbon Candy" has a fever, can you? She's not smiling because someone made her wear lipstick so she pressed her mouth together.

If I faced any of these lame excuses with my children now, I would only have to point to the 2010 Olympics where that brave downhill skier  actually, with great fortitude and courage, forced herself to ski with a broken pinkie.
Can you imagine?
Did you see the headlines about it?
Think what my children might have achieved had I this news to use to encourage them!  I can see the headlines now.

Child Plays Chopstick Though Brother Crowds Bench

Boy Cleans Toys Up Despite Bad Attitude

Girl Struggles To Carry Hefty Doll in Adult-Sized Backpack

Here's to doing our best despite life's broken pinkies.


  1. you have NO IDEA how funny you are


  2. Truly, I don't think it's possible for you to know how funny you are. This was a clever post!!