what i'm grateful for #4: the olympics & what it means to my 8-year-oldChristine Kang
Let me start by saying that I am generally not a sports fan. Oh, I’ve certainly gone to an American football game and yelled my lungs out before (I do live in Texas, after all), but sitting down and watching any sport on television is generally not anything I’m going to volunteer to do. It’s not that I hate sports, you understand, but I can generally always come up with something else that I need to be doing.
Even given all of this, however, there is nothing I love more than watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
Oh my heavens, how I love Olympics opening ceremonies. All the excitement! The eager faces of the young athletes as they enter the arena, camcorders in hand, waving to friends and families in the stands who are hysterically waving back, hugging each other with the excitement of it all … I’m seriously getting teary just typing these words. I’m a mess.
This is the third summer Olympics of my 8-year-old daughter’s young life, but the first one where she’s old enough to really grasp what the Olympics are all about. She stared at me in embarrassed and awed wonder as I played the Olympics theme song for her on YouTube the morning of the opening ceremony, tears involuntarily springing to my eyes. She shook her head in disbelief as I showed her footage of 1996 opening ceremonies in Atlanta (which were choreographed by Trinidadian Peter Minshall), when Muhammad Ali lit the cauldron, and needed a moment to compose myself. But it wasn’t until Alex asked me what sports were played at the summer Olympics, and I mentioned taekwondo that she really sat up and took notice.
My daughter loves taekwondo. She’s been practicing for a couple of years now, and is currently a blue belt. It is the one activity that she has consistently enjoyed, and tells me she plans on keeping it up until she’s a black belt.
So we decided to look up the US team to see who the competitors are, and were stunned when we discovered Paige McPherson, a 21-year-old who is from Texas, just like my daughter. She’s biracial just like my daughter. She was adopted, just like my daughter. She loves to dance, just like my daughter. She has wild, curly hair and a huge smile, just like my daughter.
Paige McPherson, it appears, is my daughter from the future.
Alex is now mesmerized. She seeks out video all about McPherson. She talks about how she might just represent the US in taekwondo when she’s older. Suddenly, the possibilities seem endless.
And so, even though I’m not into watching sports on television, on August 8th, Alex and I will be glued to the television when the preliminary rounds begin for taekwondo, cheering McPherson on. Alex, no doubt, will be dreaming of bringing home gold in the 2024 Olympics.
And I will be dreaming of waving hysterically to her from the stands, sobbing uncontrollably with pride as she enters the stadium in the arena during the opening ceremonies.
(How about you — are the Olympics a big deal in your home? Will you be watching any athletes particularly closely?)
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