7 Blue Ribbon Events of the Parenteen Olympics

Here’s the first post from the she shed. I haven’t actually found a she shed, but if I had, this is the post I would write.

We are almost at the start of the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games and what a two weeks it has been. Such skill, stamina and athleticism – and that’s just from the spectators – what time is it again? Australia has now managed to scrape together five six gold medals as our swim team went MIA. Hard lesson learned for said swim team, namely that social media, hubris and swimming don’t mix. Ouch!

The Olympics have however inspired me to look around and recognise skill, stamina and athleticism in my everyday life. So, let’s light the cauldron, release the peace doves, sing “Hey Jude” and celebrate the 7 blue ribbon events of the Parenteen Olympics!

Event 1 – Synchronised Finding: parents compete to find their teen’s missing items whilst tackling various obstacle courses such as teen rooms, drawers and wardrobes, dirty clothes piles and pockets. Five points for each item found. Bonus points are awarded for really small items and those which have not seen the light of day for at least two weeks. Triple bonus points are awarded for essential items that are required to be found in the five minutes before the teen rushes out the door.

Event 2 – Rhythmic Gum Snapping: teens compete to scare the living crap out of their parents by loudly popping gum at random times. Bonus points are awarded for pops  sounding like cars backfiring made at critical times during television shows their parents are watching in the same room.

Event 3 – Pantry/Fridge Hockey: teens compete to rearrange their parent’s pantry/fridge in the usually useless quest to find something to eat and in the hope that by staring at the items long enough they might change into something inspiring. Each of the  panel of five international judges gives a score out of 10 for the following categories:

    • most vacant stare and bored stance
    • most number of trips to the pantry/fridge in a sixty minute time span
    • most number of items moved each trip
    • loudest whine of “there is nothing to eat”

Points are awarded for each item of food actually removed from the fridge or pantry and there is an increased degree of difficulty for foods that have to be heated, peeled or spread.

Event 4 – Laundry Hamper Basketball: teens compete to throw dirty laundry into the hamper much like conventional basketball. There is a three-point line and points are deducted if any item from a flying bundle lands next to the hamper or if the laundry hamper is broken after a particularly forceful slam dunk.

Event 5 – Teenage Habitat Hurdles: parents compete to retrieve selected items  such as used drinking glasses and gum wrappers from their teen’s room battling obstacle courses made of piles clothes, paper and general “stuff”. This is a timed event and the quickest out the door wins. Points are deducted for touching any of the piles, cleaning up or for failing to make it out of the room altogether.

Event 6 – Bathroom Use Marathon: teens compete to spend as much time in the bathroom as possible during peak times with the object of causing maximum inconvenience to other family members. Teens will be judged on the length of their shower (the longer the better), the amount of product applied to their body (shampoo deodorant, gel or makeup or preferably all four for maximum degree of difficulty points) and poses/stances made before the mirror. Scores are awarded out of ten by a panel of judges much like gymnastics.

Event 7 – Electronic Gadget Decathlon: teens compete for the ultimate Parenteen Olympics event in which the winner is the athlete who uses  the highest number of electronic gadgets at the same time. Permitted gadgets include televisions, laptops, I-Pads, smart phones and gaming consoles. Simultaneous use must be sustained for at least one continuous minute. Hernia prevention belts  may be worn.

Let’s celebrate our inner athlete and enjoy our pride of place on the winner’s podium. Medals are awarded on the earlier of the teen turning 21 or moving out of home.

Have you been in training for the Parenteen Olympics? Do you have a favourite event? Are you or do you know a champion of any of the events?

Award ribbon image and image of sporting figures courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Have A Personal Olympic Story? Why Yes, I Do…

More than three decades ago, I graduated from primary school. Not sure what the North American equivalent is called, elementary school or middle school perhaps? Here in Australia, primary school is generally schooling between the ages of 8 and 11. In my State, high school starts at the age of 12.

We have only had one primary school reunion in all those years and to be honest, it was a little bit like entering the twilight zone. Not sure what made me feel like this, perhaps it was the amount of time that had passed since graduation, perhaps it was the intervening high school years and the notion that high school generally brings more memories or meaningful experiences. Whatever it was, it felt somewhat bizarre seeing my primary school mates after more than twenty years and talking about marriage, kids, divorce and careers. Perhaps because there were no blunt ended scissors, glue, coloured pencils in the middle of the table or dangerously low hanging projects strung up by pegs hanging from the ceiling.

As part of the festivities we were asked to fill out a questionnaire. Most of the questions were unremarkable, but there was one that I have carried with me. It is a fairly innocuous question, but I felt confronted by it. Coming away from the reunion, I felt under pressure to have an experience where I could answer the question in the affirmative. The question was:

Have You Ever Attended A World Event?

By that stage, I had given birth twice, had career success, was still married to my first and only, was a dutiful daughter and wife who almost brokered world household peace. Was this not enough? Did I have to attend a world event as well?

Well yes, because it would be memorable and fun and newsworthy and something that no-one could take away. It would also put me in good stead for any future school reunions with tricky questionnaires, not to mention future bridge parties with the girls (for when I get old – ha!).

It was therefore wonderfully fortunate that my city won the right to host the 2000 Olympics. I remember awakening at 3.00am to watch the then president of the IOC, Juan Antiono Samaranch utter the immortal words “and the winner is…. Sydernee”. Really, he said “Sydernee” and the expression has gone down in our city folklore. That announcement made sometime prior to 1995 heralded the start of my own personal Olympic story and journey to a world event.

We watched as Sydney Olympic Park was developed, the main stadium, satellite stadiums built and Olympic infrastructure installed. We heard stories about the supposed crowds and traffic and people renting their house for the Olympic period for exorbitant sums. We were inundated with cheap travel offers to exotic destinations to tempt us out of the city. We watched as they painted the blue line for the marathon runners in the next suburb and we watched the torch relay as it swept through. We saved money, entered ballots and queued to obtain tickets. Leave the city during the Olympics? Not this girl! The world coming to our laid-back doorstep and the prospect of watching Olympic events at a reasonable time, rather than in the middle of the night was an opportunity too good to pass up.

I can honestly say, attending the Sydney 2000 Olympics was one of my finest experiences. We ended up attending the opening ceremony, velodrome cycling events and athletics. But more importantly than the events themselves, for the fortnight of the Olympics our city was enveloped in a blanket of goodwill and cheer. The mood was incredible. Locals wanted to put their best face on to the world and exuded friendliness and tolerance. The city was clean and traffic almost non-existent. Public transport ran on time and business took a holiday. Carefree was in the air and the news was positive. The politicians stopped playing politics and everyone just seemed happy. In a word, utopia. And let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing like hearing your national anthem played on the world stage in your home city.

I can well imagine what London, Londoners and indeed all of England must be feeling right now. Five years is a long anticipatory haul, but the fruits of London’s Olympic labours are about to be laid bare for the world to see. And the world will watch and for the first time will Facebook and Tweet at unprecedented levels.

So yes, I have been to a world event, some would say THE world event. I have my sights set on a World Cup Soccer event, World Series Final (although it is debatable whether this is a true world event), a Rio Mardi Gras and perhaps the Tomatina festival in Spain in the future.

In the meantime, I have set my alarm clock for 5.30am tomorrow morning to watch the opening ceremony. I have reread my herding teenagers post and am armed and ready to wake them so we watch it together to continue a family tradition. Here’s to two weeks of this given our unforgiving timezone!

Would you want to go the Olympics? Have you been? Have you attended a world event? What Olympic moments are you looking forward to?