While the recent Rio Olympic Games are still fresh in your mind, it’s a perfect time to start getting your own child ready for the 2028 Olympics. The final venue has not yet been decided. I hear it’s down to Buenos Aires, Budapest and Pidgeon Forge, Tennessee. (I hear you. Why on earth is Budapest on that list? Ridiculous.)
First the bad news: If your kid is over the age of twelve, I hate to break it to you, but you waited too long. With only 12 years left until the 2028 games, there’s not nearly enough time to get your teenager up to speed.
If you love your young child, don’t waste another day. First choose a sport. But before you get ahead of yourself and say “gymnastics”, slow down, mom. Unless you plan to starve your child so she tops out at 87 pounds and 4’ 10”, I should caution you – gymnastics gold is pretty elusive. Besides, I checked. There’s this three-year-old from China who looks unbeatable for 2028.
Take a couple minutes (but not more than ten) to think about which sports make the most sense for your child to compete in. Then throw them all out the window, because the only events that will ever bring your future Olympian serious Benjamins from sponsorships are track, swimming, and gymnastics (which the Chinese girl has already got locked up). When was the last time you saw a badminton Olympian on a box of Wheaties? Come to think of it, when was the last time you saw a box of Wheaties?
Once you’ve chosen your child’s Olympic specialty, it’s time to launch a rigorous training program. You’ll need a coach – someone who’s an expert in helping kids reach their full potential and crushing their spirit into dust if they make the tiniest mistake off the starting blocks. Choose your child’s coach carefully because he or she will replace you in your child’s life from this point forward. If at all possible, find a coach who bears at least a passing resemblance to you, to help remind her of the parent she once loved. Don’t worry. You’ll still be able to spend time with her every fourth Saturday and on Christmas morning until noon (after which she has to get back to her workout regimen).
If you can’t afford a full-time personal coach on your toll booth operator’s salary, you might have step up to be her coach. Sit down with your child, gently hold her hand, smile warmly, and walk her through a preview of the hell her life will become over the next twelve years – 365 days a year:
- 5:00 am: Wake up. Do 500 sit-ups, 200 push-ups and 150 leg lifts. No pain, no gain.
- 5:30 am: Warm up: Do a light ten-mile jog. Try to keep pace with vehicular traffic.
- 7:00 am: Drink a 48-ounce kelp & kale milkshake, eat two dozen raw eggs and the rear third of a cow.
- 7:30 am: Get ready to catch the school bus – Just kidding. Your kid won’t be going to school. Can’t let a well-rounded education get in the way of Olympic glory.
- 8:00 am – 3:00 pm: Training time: Swim 10 miles, climb the equivalent of Mt. McKinley backwards, bike three times around the beltway of the nearest mid-sized city.
- 3:00 pm: Eat 23 grapefruits, 19 cucumbers, two pounds of almonds, four whole chickens, five cans of tuna fish, and enough salad to feed a herd of rabbits for a week.
- 3:30 pm – 3:45 pm: Power nap.
- 3:45 pm – 8:45 pm: Training Time, Part 2: Lift weights for two hours or whenever your weakest extremity falls off. Do flexibility training until you can touch your left elbow to the back of your neck. (Dear reader, admit it. You just tried doing this, didn’t you?)
- 8:45 – 8:55 pm: School work.
- 8:55-8:56 pm: Take a long, relaxing shower – in your dreams.
- 8:56-9:00 pm: brush teeth, get in PJs, say your prayers, read a relaxing book.
- 9:00 pm: Lights out. Dream about your revenge on your parents for putting you through this.
Insist your child observes a strict dietary regimen of protein, green vegetables and fruit. Explain that the reason she can’t have pizza, ice cream, and cookies or anything flavorful ever again is because you love her and want the very best for her. Be sure to hide your personal stash of junk food. Just because she has to suffer is no reason you should deprive yourself.
Reassure your child that all of this will be worth it in the end because once she wins the Olympic gold medal, she can finally buy you that condo on the Carolina shore you’ve been dreaming of – oh, and also because it will make you enormously proud of her. Yeah, maybe start with the “enormously proud” part.
It’s important that you keep your child focused during this temporary 12-year training program. That means eliminating unnecessary distractions from her life like television, social media, texting, seeing friends or doing anything that might cause momentary happiness. In the short term she may resent these restrictions, wish you weren’t her parents, and plot your agonizing death being eaten by a school of angry piranhas. But it’s only a phase – one she’ll most likely outgrow – shortly after your death (hopefully one not caused by a school of angry piranhas).
Remind your future hero to picture that date 12 short years from now at the 2028 games, when you and her mom are cheering her on from the giant jumbotron outside the stadium because you waited too long to purchase tickets – after which you’ll congratulate her for finishing in 19th place, right behind a 12-year-old from Tonga. Then you’ll sit down, put your arm around her, and explain that had she only started training four years earlier like you told her, she wouldn’t have been so badly humiliated in front of the entire world.
On second thought, perhaps preparing your child for future Olympic stardom may not be such a good idea after all. Maybe you should start a bit more slowly. Try signing up her for a local T-Ball team. And if she successfully makes contact with the ball, take her out to celebrate – with pizza and ice cream.
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Check out Tim Jones’ latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time