Our family has been enjoying watching the Olympic coverage for the past week. Our Monkey, of course, loves to watch gymnastics and then tries to attempt many of the flips he has seen. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a trip to the emergency room in our immediate future:)
Chipmunk is enjoying basketball, soccer and particularly swimming. He is fascinated by how fast the swimmers are and is talking about joining the swimming team next year. It has been really neat to see Chipmunk cheering on the Russian competitors too. He has always been very interested in Russian history/culture/language and constantly looks at the pictures and video of our trips to Russia when meeting him and picking him up. He is so proud of his Russian background and we are always trying to encourage his interest in learning more about country where he was born. It has been wonderful for him to get the chance to watch and cheer for "his teams", as he calls both the Russia and US competitors. We also been thrilled to cheer for the small group of athletes from Kyrgyzstan. While there are only a few athletes from this country (and they compete in events that haven't been broadcast), two of them have won medals.
While Chipmunk has been feeling such pride in his Russian heritage, he has also started to understand that not everyone shares his enthusiasm. Over the past week Chipmunk has overheard many comments about Russia's conflict with Georgia. He first heard about it on NPR; the boys never pay attention to news radio but I guess he heard the word Russia and his ears perked up. He was concerned because he thought they were invading Georgia in the US, where one of his favorite aunts and cousins live. I gave him a brief synopsis of what was happening and he didn't question it further. Since then, however, we have had two different incidents where some adults have been discussing it and been very critical of the Russians. It is one thing to have an educated discussion about what is happening in eastern Europe; it is quite another thing to call all of the Russians "idiots", "bullies", and believe that the Russians need to "be blown off the face of the earth." I know that many people from older generations have a deep dislike of the former Soviet Union. But it makes me sad to see them passing these stereotypes down to the children and grandchildren. We were in the store a few days ago, in the school supply aisle, looking at a world map. If there is a map around, my boys have to find Astrakhan (Russia) and Kyrgyzstan on it. Chipmunk was so happy to be able to find Astrakhan without any help and shouted it a little loud. Another little boy, who couldn't have been more than 8 or 9, told him that Russia is where all the bad people lived. I know I should have tried to correct him but I did not want to get into a debate with a little boy (and his father, who looked really rough around the edges), so I walked away and tried to explain to Chipmunk and Monkey how some people aren't very happy with some things that Russia is doing, but that doesn't mean that the people in Russia were bad or mean. It is such a hard concept for a 5-year-old to understand. I know I can't insulate my boys from the opinions of some of the idiotic, uneducated people that they will face in the world; I can only continue to encourage their love and pride for the Motherland. But I was really hoping for a few more years before they were faced with this type of criticism. Sigh.....
Onto good news, only 46 more days until I leave for HotDog! I am really getting excited now!