Our Very Own Olympics

I have reminded my husband so much about the boundless energy children in my family have that now he reminds me whenever I lament our very active toddler. There are many examples growing up, and being grown up around the children of cousins, which highlight the high energy and daring of people with my genes.

“Look at how fast I can run!” Child proceeds to run in place.

Best playground game ever: Let’s find the highest thing and jump from it!

Watching the Olympics usually led to playing the at-home Olympics.

I remember very fondly playing Olympics with my sisters. Though we played various events, the favorite always seemed to be couch vaulting. Stay with me a moment while I describe some important layout features of the house I grew up in.

The main hallway was L-shaped. From the kitchen/dining area a doorway led to the bedrooms with a side hall to the bathroom (which is usually forgotten in the L-shape description). A 90 degree left-hand turn takes you to the two smaller bedroom where my sisters and I slept, and a turn to the right would take you to the master bedroom where my parents slept. Standing at the spot, the bend in the L, and looking back toward the kitchen was one long open track. The partial wall between kitchen and dining area wasn’t visible from this spot, there was nothing between someone standing here and the end of the house, an outer wall with beautiful wood paneling ad high, thin windows. Nothing, that is, except the couch. The couch wasn’t always there, but it was there long enough to be featured in a recurring Olympic event – couch vaulting.

The set up for couch vaulting was to first take all the pillows in the house (bed pillows and throw pillows) and gather them to be close at hand. The cushions for sitting would remain in place, they were the landing pad. Unlike true Olympic vaulting, we didn’t use our hands. To vault, start at that corner in the hallway, run toward the couch – it would be presenting its side to you – and when you reach the couch, jump into a forward somersault to fly over the arm of the couch and land on your back on the couch cushions.

Remember the pillows kept close at hand? That is where gymnastic vaulting became something of a mix with pole vaulting. It wasn’t enough to flip over the arm of the couch, it was pretty low and soon too easy. To add to the fun (and the difficulty, and the danger) we would stack the pillows on the arm of the couch. Thus our “vault” would get higher and higher. I remember our record being four pillows stacked on the arm of the couch. The idea would be to still perform the somersault, but without knocking any of the pillows off.

I thought it would be interesting to compare memories with my sisters on this subject, but it would seem this activity had about the same impact and memorable-ness. None of us could come up with what other games we played for the Olympics (maybe it was only couch vaulting and the idea of other games is a figment), though my youngest sister did remember me doing more and more daring variations of the original theme. Her memories pant me as quite the dare-devil. Mine agree. What I liked most is that this is a memory which is pleasant for all three of us, which isn’t always the case.

Thinking about couch vaulting of course has me wondering what strange and dangerous hijinks my son will get into as he ages. Which ones will I allow? Which ones will I never even know happened? (Kids are stealthy sometimes.) Which ones will be forbidden and which ones will I join in the planing and playing? And how long will he be accepting of my involvement in his crazy adventures? Whatever the answers, I hope he builds many wonderful memories to look back on and as an adult recalls his childhood fondly.

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