The Great Indoors
OK, so this isn’t an actual quote.
Also, the attribution is to someone who was never an actual U.S. president.
Side note: Since February officially celebrates Presidents’ Day, make sure to brush up on those 45 dudes, so you’ll never be tricked like this again.
But the phrase might as well be the official motto for two energy-laced little boys who take up residence with me. Cooper, 5, and Milo, 2, are the epitome of “energy to burn,” turning the ground floor of my house oftentimes into a race that doesn’t ever seem to have a final lap.
If you stare at my floor long enough, you’ll swear you can see the wood worn just enough under their constant hustling—right next to the generous amounts of cereal that hit the floor that morning, matchbox cars that eluded the cleanup process and other surprise toys that are just waiting to stab my feet.
I love that my little dudes have so much energy in their collective tanks. The problem is now. Here. New England in winter is harsh for many reasons, but one of the least-celebrated complaints on its frigid resume is its ability to make small children with infinite motors hard to entertain for large chunks of time.
Sending them outside in the snow works for a bit of time, but on those truly frozen days when the thermometer struggles to find zero degrees, time is limited. Sure, there are activities/indoor venues to drive to, but many of the affordable options are usually exhausted by mid-January.
My kids, at least, will be looking for something new to conquer. It feels like I have one option.
I declare the inaugural Farnsworth Indoor Olympic Games to commence for two weeks in mid-February.
While I negotiate the TV rights with NBC, here are my plans:
Since I’m a responsible parent, only a moderate amount of fire will be involved.
The kids will be given paper towel rolls and a cut out piece of paper that they can gleefully color and then glue onto the end of the roll as their own torch. They will then be able to run a few laps around the first floor, pass the torch on, and repeat a few times so it simulates enough of a journey to the final “stadium.”
I will then light the official cauldron (thinking apple cinnamon Yankee candle) that shall safely be placed atop the dining room table for all to see.
The number of countries may be down from the typical Olympic festivities, so I will plan to make it as brief as their attention spans.
A piece of paper and crayons will be easy enough supply to allow them to draw their own “country’s” flag to march around later and place somewhere in the
“Olympic village” (Read: Kitchen refrigerator).
Optional: For the Parade of Nations portion, let them dress themselves and walk around with their new flags.
Once the pageantry is over and given each child passes his drug test (look, we want to be official, correct?), it’s on to the actual competition.
• 15-lap dash: Each competitor shall run 15 laps around the first floor. They will count to 15 while doing this, giving them extra bonus time removed from their final time.
• 10-lap dash: Think of this as the 100-meter sprint version of the first event.
• Basketball: When enough worn clothing has ended up on the floor, I will grab a hamper/basket. Whoever scores the most points throwing these in the basket, wins. (Although, in the end, I win a clean living room).
• Rowing: The bathtub will be filled with a generous amount of water. Each athlete will choose a bath toy (we have toy boats here at casa de Farnsworth, because tub time is pretty swanky stuff). They will then take turns making waves with their hands to push the boat over the finish line.
• Gymnastics: I don’t really have a 1-to-1 correlation between this event, but my kids are crazy about dancing. The music will be synced up and they will dance for 10-15 minutes as one giant floor routine.
• Cycling: This will be just like the 15- and 10-lap dashes, except the competitors will have to use one of their hundreds of cars/trucks/motorcycles to drive the route.
I have no doubt that a shiny medallion Cooper and Milo can wear as a necklace would make them happy. However, to incentivize competitiveness, I would replace the gold, silver and bronze medals with “levels of achievement.”
Here’s a rough draft:
• Bronze medal: Control of the remote for an additional TV show, at the athlete’s request. Note: It must be before bedtime. The Games will be contested after the Super Bowl, so no worries there.
• Silver medal: An extra top shelf snack to eat during the day. We’re talking full-on pouch of gummies, ring pop or popsicle.
• Gold medal: An entire 30 minutes of play on a tablet or electronic device. These will be given out sparingly. Do not expect any help from the hometown judges on this every game.
Host your own
If you have an energetic kid bouncing around the walls, I encourage you to give your own Olympiad a try. The experience of sprinting around should not have to be limited to warm temperatures.
I will be consulting on these games with the official Indoor Olympic Committee (that would be my wife and I) about any other details between now and then.
A dormant winter is a boring one. The Indoor Olympics is a chance to bond and get the kiddos to use their endless supply of energy. My hope is that it also teaches Cooper and Milo that life doesn’t have to stop, just because the temperature drops for a few months. Life keeps going. And for them, slowing down doesn’t seem like a viable option.
After all, as a famous person once said, life’s a track.
Never stop running.
Josh Farnsworth is a husband, father of Cooper and Milo, goofball himself, and award-winning writer and columnist living in Worcester. He can be reached for column ideas at email@example.com.