I, like everyone else last Friday night, watched the Olympic opening ceremonies. I’m so glad the Brits went with quirkiness over pageantry. (Mr. Bean running on the beach in Chariots of Fire? Awesome. The Queen skydiving with James Bond? Spectacular.) To be forced to follow China’s dog-and-pony show was a tough draw, but they pulled it off with the same suave, British finesse that made me fall in love with the Beatles and Sean Connery a lifetime ago.
However, as I watched the Olympic athletes romp into the stadium like wide-eyed puppies, I got to thinking. As strong as those perfect specimens of human physicality are, how many of them could actually run a family household without resorting to primal screaming? (Which, by the way, comes in really handy when helping out with algebra homework.)
I decided I’d like to see some Olympic events that only moms (and the very nimblest of dads) could perform. Therefore, without further adieu, I give you Parenting Olympic events, for those with fortitude as strong as granite:
The Costco Dash
The Costco Dash begins as soon as you drop Junior off at his lesson or practice or whatever the heck you signed him up for. You race through traffic, running yellow lights, only to skid into the Costco parking lot, cutting off a disabled old lady on a scooter. You then RUN toward the entrance like you were in the home stretch to the Pearly Gates, grab a cart as you dash past all the people lined up to show their cards, and flash yours like you’re with the FBI.
Then you just start throwing stuff into your cart because you can. You’re going for Olympic gold by buying as many gargantuan bags of Fritos and 12-paks of tube socks as possible, AND STILL get back in time to pick up your kid before his lesson is over or the coach ends practice.
By the time you checkout your only possible stumbling block is if you forgot your checkbook or if your debit card doesn’t go through. In which case, that leads you to your next big Olympic event…
The No-Money Marathon
I would like to see Michael Phelps or any of those impossibly skinny little gymnasts try to make a dollar stretch far enough to cover food, shelter, clothing, and repairs on a Yamaha Custom-Z tenor sax all in the same day. Now with more places preferring debit cards to checks it’s impossible to take advantage of the check float to help stretch out paying for unexpected “band fees” once you find out both your kids made marching band. ($175 per child? Are you kidding me? What happened to a free public education?)
Unfortunately, your gold medal doesn’t come until your kids leave home with a full-ride college scholarship in music, sports, theatre, dance, or debate, thus justifying you spending all their college money on their extra curricular activities.
Sex Ed Gymnastics
At some point you have tell your kids the facts of life. The medal you win for your efforts in this event depends upon how elegantly (or eloquently) you do those verbal back flips that allow you to sidestep all that nasty sexual slang your mother couldn’t say to you. Better brush up on your anatomy, this is one of those events where you really want to stick the landing. Because afterward if your kids still don’t have a clue as to where babies come from, you could end up a grandparent before you’re 40.
Also known as the tug-of-war between staying home to raise kids and having a career. Unfortunately, it’s hard to do both, so you usually pick one and then second-guess your choice for the rest of your life in therapy.
The frustrating thing about career hurdles is that they’re never ending:
- Take the promotion even though I just got pregnant…again?
- Hire a nanny or cut back on work?
- Go on that business trip to Paris or see my kid perform the lead in the school play?
- Buy stock options in my company or invest in family orthodontia?
It’s hard to medal in this event, because every time you think you’ve cleared a hurdle new ones pop up faster than pimples on a teen beauty queen’s face.
In this case, just keep running and jumping, and hope that the liquor stores never cut back on their hours (and if they do I may have to move to another state).
In the end, what parents do best in terms of the Olympics is cheer on their Olympic athlete children. Even though I didn’t spawn an Olympic athlete, I do have kids who routinely get up in front of hundreds to thousands of people and play musical instruments. Not only do I silently play every note along with them when they’re onstage, but I agonize through the piece until they’re done. Just like gymnast Aly Raisman’s parents watched their daughter’s routine at the London games, I guarantee you they were with her every step of the way. As parents they scored their own gold medal for their obvious enthusiasm and pride in their daughter’s shining moment on the world stage.
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Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.
For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her hilarious book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon.com.