It only happens once every four years

Hello from my living room, the Krieger Olympic Training Center! That’s what it is for the next two weeks, anyway.

The cushions are off our couch, blocking the only path from the living room to the kitchen for the sake of leaps and somersaults. Sure, I can’t walk through my house, BUT! Sacrifices must be made, MOM!

This is, perhaps, the exact response I was hoping for when I turned on the opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics.

Like a lot of people, some of my best memories are of watching the Olympics and imagining myself up there, achieving the impossible. During the last Olympics, my kids weren’t old enough to appreciate them. But this time they are ALL IN. Mary’s only problem is narrowing down a sport — will she do equestrian, swimming, or gymnastics?

We have been watching a record amount of TV this past week, which I admit has been a little confusing for my kids. You see, my children are part of the Netflix generation, so their brains can’t compute network television. The only thing they have ever watched is their favorite show, all the time. They’ve never had to sit through episodes of Andy Griffith or Days of Our Lives. Nope, when the TV is on they pick from a curated list that can be paused or skipped at any moment.

Mark my words, there will be fall-out from this. I don’t know what it’ll be, but kids these days have to be missing out on crucial character-building by not having to watch Rikki Lake after school because that was the only option.

Anyway. In our house, the cushions are off the couch, and we are watching absolutely everything we can, all day long.


More than the other kids, Mary is completely taken with the Olympics. It’s Mary that turned our living room into the Krieger Olympic Training Center. It’s Mary that passes out leotards to her deferential younger siblings, then instructs them through gymnastics drills.

Mary spends the entire day doing gymnastics. She plays all the roles, she is every athlete, from every country, the coach, and still has plenty of time for commentary. “Wow! Just wow, look at that. That was just great.”

She has one move — a somersault that she really, really wishes was a front handspring. As a realist I’m tempted to add that it will never be a front handspring, but as her mother who has watched her polish that somersault so much in a week of non-stop practice, I have to say — anything could happen!

Mary told me in confidence that when she messes up, she just pretends she’s a gymnast for another country. This kid! She’s got what it takes!

One afternoon Mary mentioned how many commercials the athletes are in. “Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles are everywhere,” she noted. “They’re in every commercial.”

“They are,” I said. “Those are called sponsorships. And that’s actually how a lot of these athletes make money. They don’t actually get money for doing their sport, but they get paid to be in commercials.”

Mary’s eyes narrowed into slits and she put her hands on her hips.

“Mom,” she said. “I really don’t think these athletes are doing it for the money.”

Then she marched back to the training facility. These somersaults aren’t going to practice themselves.


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