Friday, February 7, 2014

Raising An Olympian

Four years ago I wrote a blog while on week two of a 13 week bed rest while pregnant with Henrik. I wrote...

While Eric and Alice have been visiting Menards and working on our house projects, I’ve been having a pretty busy week too. I know you’re thinking, ‘how on earth could a girl on bed rest be having a busy week?’ Well, one word: Olympics. I have seen EVERY sport on TV. I know everything there is to know about our athletes, I know the special stories from other countries, I’ve seen all the medal ceremonies, the trash talking between the Koreans and the U.S (speed skating)  and the Russians and the U.S. (men’s figure skating), I have witnessed the curling mishaps and how to not “pull a Schuster”. I know all of the rules to curling, figuring skating and ice dancing. I watched Canada lose to the US in hockey in one of the greatest games of my time. I’ve seen the Dutch lose a Gold Medal in the largest coaching error of all time. I’ve seen men and women crash and lose their chance at a medal in too many categories, and I’ve seen Olympians stand proud on the platform listening, singing and crying to their National Anthem.

With only a few days left of the Olympics I am soaking in as much as I can (which happens to be all of it). I love seeing all of the events. I never really got into the Olympics as a kid, but the last four years I’ve been more interested in them. It’s one of those things that melts your heart when you see all of the comradely among all nations, and it makes you wonder why we can’t just make that happen in the real world. I will never forget these Olympics. 

I can see it now, Henrik will have to do a school project in elementary school about his family and his birth, he’ll ask questions about when he was a baby and I’ll say, “Well Hank, it all started in February 2010 when you decided that it was time to be born 13 weeks too early. I was put on bed rest and for 17 days watched the best athletes of all time compete for a chance at a gold medal.” I’ll tell him how he twisted and turned when I gasped when lougers, skiers, and bob sledders crashed, and how he kicked to the music of the figure skaters. I’ll tell him how he could hear his dad yelling and cheering for the hockey team and kicked in response to his dad’s voice.

Seeing those commercials about Moms supporting their kids who aspire to be Olympians make me tear up, but maybe someday this little boy will have dreams of winning a Gold Medal, a Stanley Cup, an Oscar, a Tony, a Newbery, or a Nobel Peace Prize. Whatever Henrik decides to be good at, I hope he’s the best at it. And I hope we can teach him all of the things necessary to be as classy as an Olympian. But above all, I hope he learns that his dad and I will be there to support him no matter what he decides to be good at. 

And now, as I sit here with Henrik as we watch snowboarding, figure skating and the Opening Ceremonies in Sochi, I am completely happy. A lot has changed since the last Olympics, but the stories are the same. The love of country is the same, and the hope and heartbreak are the same. This time around, instead of watching the games with a baby twisting and turning around in me as I imagined about this little boy and what he'd do in his life time, I got to share my excitement and joy of these games with my three and a half year old son by my side. 

As he snuggled in and got cozy with me, I watched him watch the games as his smile lit up, his mouth dropped open and eyes grew wide. He was in awe. It was absolutely magical to him as I explained the games, the different countries involved, how it is the one thing everyone in the world can agree upon, and how amazing and hard working these athletes are. As we watched, we talked about how strong the athletes were, how they ate all of their food, exercised, how they worked hard, and how they loved being part of a team. 

While we were watching, I was taking note of Henrik and the questions he asked, I was absolutely amazed at his ability to actually comprehend what was happening. "Mom, are they (snowboarders) cutting into the snow to slow down?" And at that moment, I knew he had the bug. Together, we stayed up late and watched, talked, and connected over something that unites the world, and here, in my living room, was the start of something marvelous. 

As we watched I took note of his comments:

H: she's going to be cold.
A: Cold or cool?
H: Cold! She has nothing on her back! Doesn't she know ice is cold?!
(Figure skating, pairs)

H: Wow, he is very tall and very strong. They were very good. I think they should win that medal and bite it on the stage. (Figure skating, pairs)

H: Woah! That guy lifted up that red girl with one hand! (Figure skating) How'd he do that? Did he have a lot of energy? Is that girl a kid like me?

H: This guy's (figure skating) music is not boring. He has an electric guitar. It would be better if he had a bass drum though. We should get him one.

H: I wish we had more snow so we could snow sled. 
A: We can get one tomorrow, we have enough snow to go sledding, we need it to get warmer. 
H: Actually, I want one of those (snowboards), they go much faster.

H: WOHA! Look at that! That snowboarding girl is really good at that. I wish I could get a snow board.  WOW! Geeze! She just did a drift!  I think I'm too small for that.
A: Nah, you can do it now, plus, you'll grow.
H: Well , then I guess I wish we had more snow. 
H: I'm doing adult stuff with you mom. I like it. I like the Olympics too.

And you know what? I liked it too. This Olympic series is going to be the best yet: instead of dreaming about what this boy will become, I get to see him watch these Olympics as he learns about politics, other nations, team work, partnerships, hard work, dedication, heart break and joy. I get to see him salute when he hears our National Anthem, and I get to see him cheer for other Nations because they did well, not just because they are "on our team".  

As I sit here, under a blanket eating fruit snacks and sharing my water, I realize that I get to experience all of his achievements. I get to cheer for him from the sideline. I get to be there when he fails, and I get to pick him up and teach him about life as I help him find his way in the world. Even if he never becomes an Olympian, watching these games will teach him a lot about the world, and about himself. And wow, I cannot wait to see what both of these boys become. 

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