On most days, my kids' battle over "clicker privileges" can become something mighty fierce. The oldest wants the History Channel on 24/7, while his younger brother would be more than happy to watch nothing but Simpsons reruns. And neither of them deigns to enter the family room when their younger sister is in the middle of one of her frequent "Shake it Up" marathons.
But something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
There is something to be gleaned by each of us during our Olympic viewing, including some important child-rearing lessons for me. Not just the valuable, but predictable, lessons of endurance, perseverance, and grit that are emphasized in just about every one of those "up close and personal" moments with an athlete. There are other key parenthood take-aways, as well.
Here's just a sampling of my Sochi-inspired nuggets:
- No parent in their right mind would let their kid try a sport where she gets on a sled and rushes face-first down an icy track at speeds higher than those legally allowed on the highway. Moms, I implore you, if a sport is named in honor of the universal symbol for deadly poison (yes, I'm looking at you Skeleton), just say no.
- I should install a curling court on my kitchen floor. I am desperate for ways to get my kids to pick up a broom more often.
- I'm not a big proponent of slang. So I have absolutely no idea how the mothers of snowboarders Shaun White and Kaitlyn Farrington have withstood years of dinnertime conversations that included talk about McTwist 1260s, YOLO flips and Double Corks.
- Yes, I may eavesdrop on their phone conversations, read their texts and conduct social media surveillance. But my children should be very thankful I haven't yet resorted to spying on them in the bathroom, Sochi-style.
- Kids, listen to your mother when she tries to set you up, even if the matchmaking is happening at an age when you think holding hands is kind of gross. It sure did pay off for childhood friends and champion ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White -- they have their moms' meddling to thank for their gold medaling.
- My kids will often wear shredded underwear, holey jeans and day-old socks. But the opening ceremony's over-the-top sweaters, Mexican alpine skier Hubertus von Hohenlohe's mariachi-inspired racing suit, and just about every fabulous thing that Johnny Weir wore are a good reminder that I need to teach my boys a valuable lesson. Clothes really do make the man.
- I am evidently not the only person over the age of seven capable of contracting an intractable case of pink eye. I will forever thank you, Bob Costas, for feeling my pain so publicly.
Yes, I will be bummed when the TV battles once again rage on next week. But the 2016 summer games aren't really that far away.
And I can only imagine the parenting tidbits I'll be able to pick up from an Olympics staged in Rio, the city that hosts the world's largest Carnival, popularized the thong bikini and gave birth to a very popular waxing procedure.