Rio 2016 is officially underway and the Thompson family plans to spend a lot of time binge watching sports and athletes that we do not normally follow. During the 2008 Olympics, I was 37 weeks pregnant with our first kid and by the time the 2012 Olympics rolled around we had three kids. Can I just say I am thankful we only added one more since London? Now I am excited that my kids are old enough to watch the Olympics with me. Together we will be awed by the dedication and ability of the world’s top athletes.
As a kid, I was a total Olympic junkie. My childhood heroes were Nancy Kerrigan, Kristi Yamaguchi, Shannon Miller and of course Kerri Strug, who’s dramatic clenching of the gymnastics Team Gold in ’96 is still a regular topic of conversation between me and my sister. My childhood villains were the likes of Tonya Harding and the whole Romanian gymnastic squad. I read books about these people, dreamed about being in the Olympics, and occasionally pretended to be a figure skating champion. On my driveway. With my roller blades. All this to say, the Olympics was pretty big and special to me.
Since we have chosen to live far, far away, there is a lot about my childhood that my kids will never experience. Sometimes it hits me while talking to friends back home. There is a longing somewhere within me to live out the nostalgia of my childhood through my kids, to see them experience the same things I did. I know those things. I can navigate those situations with confidence, understanding the system. Instead, I often feel clueless about how it feels to be a third culture kid! Perhaps that is one reason I am so excited about watching the Olympics as a family. Maybe this is something our childhoods can share.
As we watch, I know that I wouldn’t trade my childhood, but I wouldn’t trade theirs either. When my son excitedly roots for a Thai weightlifter because “My friends live there!” or as we all cheer on the first Indian gymnast to make it to the Olympic stage, I remember and appreciate the value of their experiences. My kids will grow up with an awareness of the world’s people and cultures that I have only begun to understand my own lack of. I cannot wait to see how their childhood shapes them and I pray that they will be agents of peace and change in our broken world.
Luke and I are married and have four little munchkins that travel the world with us. I blog about living overseas, travel, kids, education and graphic design.
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