Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Winter Olympics are making me teary

The LGBB has a handle on the concept of there being other countries other than our own. She is becoming fascinated by the globe and if we see one when out and about, I am asked numerous questions and made to point out various places. Pity for her she can't actually see the place we went and got fish and chips the other night. They're not quite that detailed, I have to explain clumsily.

Still, she's not too young to understand that her cousins live in Japan. And this gives her a good basis to grasp the fact even more. There are people, like us, in other countries, separated by vast seas, all around a great. Big. World. She knows the Earth and recognises it amongst the other planets. She loves the planets too and has begun asking for more information about our solar system.

I love this shit! I really do.

Now, there is no better way, in my humble opinion, to intoduce a whole swag of countries to a young child than the Olympics. I know that at the tender age of five, I was enraptured in the romance of patriotism during the 1980 Moscow Olympics. How ironic, really, when those Games were steeped in so much controversy. My Granddad was particularly encouraging of my interest in the world map. I was given a Misha mascot bear and saw a lot of those Games on the teev.

When these Winter Olympics began in Vancouver, I hadn't the slightest ambition to get the LGBB into them at all. I have been wrapped up in work, moving in to the completed house extension (her curtains arrive sometime this week, WOOT!) and have been busy clearing up work assignments to properly pay attention to the Olympics at all. It was Steve who nudged me and said he reckoned Lol might enjoy watching some of the sports and he has set about recording some of the programs so she can get a taste for her very first ever Winter Olympics.

Well. By Sunday afternoon, I was jelly. I couldn't speak without choking up! It was ridiculous. Somewhere in me, my love for humankind (for it seemed to matter not what country the competitor was from) appeared to be bubbling to the surface and every time I tried to explain to her what was happening, I'd get this emotional lump in my throat. It was as much to do with her keen interest in what I was explaining and showing her as it was my stirring memories of my own first remembered Olympics and my Granddad's painstaking care to point out all the different countries' flags.

Lolly and I were watching the Luge. I was showing her the competitor's country's flag and the time to beat, thinking this would go nowhere. But she really started getting into it. And then - oh wonder of wonders - they had the medal presentation! Now she was REALLY interested! He got a gold medal! she squealed, as if she were Polish herself. So we sat there, glued to the telly, grinning, me with tears pricking my eyeballs, as we respectfully listened to the Polish national anthem and watched the flags get hoiked up the pole.

I thought it was just a hormonal thing, this first day. But wouldn't you know it, when I sat down with her two days ago to watch the ice skating, I teared up again! This time over the Chinese hot favourites to win, Zhao Hongbo and Shen Xue.

I don't know, it must be something to do with having to commentate on what the competitors are going through, what they have to do and why they're racing/skating for their lives, how they have worked very hard and love their sport. Oh, I went on and on. And she asked more and more. She has become a zealot for all things done on ice or snow. And all of a sudden... I find myself in a very strange, yet familiar (just long-buried), place.

I'm feeling patriotic. Nay, I'm feeling something for people I will never, ever meet, no matter what country they're from.

Couple after couple performed their routine and each time, the LGBB became more critical in her commentary. She even began commenting on the commentators, who were very interesting and really gave us a nice background to each couple. We were watching the US commentary version, so much better than our Aussie experts, I have to say (for this program of skating, at least). Is he gunna fall, can she make it? Lolly was saying, more to herself than me. He's a bit wobbly.

I was in love with watching her watch them all skate. We sat holding each others' hands, like the competitors after they finished, and waited while each score from the judges came up. She's starting to recognise some of the flags - she knows our flag already and has now added Canada's and Japan's flags so far to her memory banks, it seems. This morning, she has come out of her bedroom saying, "We'll watch the medal one now? The skating medal one?" because last night, we promised her some tin. You can't get anything past them, can you?

And it brings it all back for me, how much I was enamoured by my first Olympics. I didn't think I even cared that much. But it seems, yet again, here is another example of something from within me being unlocked because of this amazing creature who chose to come and experience her life with her Dad and me. So very, very humbled and relieved that she did.

Do you have a special place in your pride-filled heart for the Olympic Games? Or the Winter (or perhaps Commonwealth) Olympics? What are your memories of your first-watched and understood Games? Do you have any? And have you shared the Games with your kids at any age? What was their reaction?

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