I watched a lot of the Olympics.
I yelled in surprise at moguls, ski jumping, incredible snow boarding tricks, and just amazing overall feats.
My boys, particularly the younger one, were into something different. They were watching hockey.
For most of last weekend, as tension built up to the gold medal hockey game, my 8-year old son treated us with a periodic yell of “Let’s kick some Canadian buttocks.”
“Where did you hear that word?” I asked.
“Jimmy Neutron,” he replied and then treated me to a brief replay of that part of the movie.
And while I wondered why he couldn’t have picked up a phrase like, “I may be small, but I’ve got a BIG BRAIN,” my wife and I thought that his use of the word “buttocks” at home was funny.
On the other hand, when he yelled it as we were headed to the parking lot after Sunday school, I thought maybe I should have tried to curtail his enthusiasm.
Oddly, though, as excited as my little guy had been, part of him didn’t want to watch the final contest. The games rekindled an interest he had in hockey. His uncle played hockey growing up and during college and still plays in a rec league now. Years ago, he even gave my sons a couple of his old sticks.
But, as the game approached, he just wanted to play.
When America started winning, both my boys decided it was time to pull the sticks out of the garage and this old soccer net we had in the basement. It was meant for them when they were younger and was now too small to be a real soccer net, but it definitely served as a hockey net. The boys took the sticks, practiced passing with a tennis ball, and scored goal after goal. They pretended to play the gold medal game. When it was over, America won the gold medal 17-16 over Canada in a penalty shoot-out.
So why didn’t he want to watch when the game started.
It turned out, that watching the U.S. was nerve-wracking to him. He’d been in school when the U.S. was playing Finland and it was already 6-0 when he got home. No pressure. But he’d watched the previous U.S. - Canada game as long as he could (until we told him to go to bed) living and dying on every slapshot.
It was easier to play than watch.
So, the two of stayed outside as long as we could, having a shoot-out in the garage. Eventually, my wife called us in, saying they were about to drop the puck. He hesitated. He just wanted to play.
Shortly thereafter, we did go inside and cheered for America. My formerly Japanese (now officially American) wife had spent six years in Canada and loved it while she as there. She’s not a sports fan and tried to ignore us, but felt compelled to serenade us with “O Canada” every time our screams woke her from her afternoon nap.
And when the game was over, the Olympics were done for me. It had been two weeks of quality, albeit overly schmaltzy at times, entertainment that I could watch with the boys, but I was Olympic’d out.
I even decided to skip the closing ceremony, though this may not have a been a good idea. This may or may not have been a good idea. While the Olympic organizers made a joke of fixing the torch, NBC supposedly showed it hadn’t learned anything in over forty years, cutting off the ending (a la a Heidi resurrection) to show its overly hyped new show The Marriage Ref.
It wasn't a good idea to skip the rest of the closing ceremony as I, like NBC, cut back too soon to real life. I turned on the new episode of Desperate Housewives, knowing that my wife would watch “Brothers and Sisters” an hour later. My 8-year old walked in on the entrance of DH, and I winced as he caught an eyeful of a bra-and-panties clad character on the screen. “Step back. Don’t look. Did you finish brushing your teeth?”
“Yes, Daddy. She’s naked.”
“Almost. Did you brush your teeth?”
“Let’s go floss.”
"Daddy, U.S.A. lost."
"We'll get 'em next time."
And I tucked him in for what had been a pretty good day.