How do you explain Olympics to your kid?

Olympics is in the air.  I, for one, felt the warmth from the flames, when Amitabh Bachchhan carried the torch yesterday! Now I’m no avid sports fan, but the sight of the multi-colored interlocking rings brings fuzziness to my heart.  To me, Olympics is a tradition that has withstood the ups and downs of the times. Or more profoundly,  I’d like to think of it as a celebration of the universally accepted philosophies of our human race…a yin-yang of cooperation and competition, survival of the fittest, unity in diversity.
So what happens when I get an assignment from the school to explain Olympics to my 4-year old? I fumble. Where do I begin? Qualifying it as a sporting event seem like an understatement of the quadrennial. I contemplate adding adjectives like mega, global, or one-of-a-kind, but wonder about its comprehensibility to a 4-year old.
Describing it in quantitatively or geographically (like the guidance I received from the school) seems inadequate. That would be like seeing a flower, without smelling it; like listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops without experiencing them on your skin.
When I was little, no one bothered to explain me what Olympics was all about. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the entertainment of the opening ceremony, the two weeks of athletic agility, gymnastics antics, and discovery of sports that had no existence in my psyche before, all to culminate in the heavy-heartedness of the closing ceremony.  And the aura of the Olympics got imbibed in the mind.  A couple of Olympics later, I remember the anticipation of the daily review of the medal tally(for those 2 weeks, the medal score seemed more pertinent than the GDP of the country)  and the wishful thinking of seeing India in the higher rungs of the medal hierarchy.
What remained etched in mind was the valor in the athlete’s efforts, the sportsmanship of the participants that couldn’t make it, the feeling of pride and giddiness during the medal ceremony, and the hope to relive it again in another four years.
But I did my bit to explain Olympics in a vocabulary reserved for my son, just to abide by the solidarity of the school assignment.
More as a reaffirmation of my explanation, when I asked him, “So what is Olympics?” With childlike innocence, he proclaimed, “it’s a movie with many games”. Maybe I oversold the entertainment aspect of the games with a lot of emotions. 
I think the best way is to let him watch and experience it, just like I did, 20 years going. And leave it to him to derive his own unique interpretations and inspirations out of it.
So, let the games begin.

Takeaways from "Temple Run": Tips for new-age parenting

<!–[if !mso]>st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } <![endif]–>

I watch at the iPad screen as my 4-yr old points me to a score of 137,298. He cannot read yet, but knows it’s a big number judging by the long sequence of digits. This is his personal new-high in Temple Run – the mobile video game where you as a treasure hunter, have to outrun demon monkeys, deadly traps, and other obstacles, while collecting gold coins on the way. 
Running is all that matters!
The score has intrigued me. Especially since that kind of number never ever flashed up during my casual-yet-competitive video-gaming endeavors to-date. I decide to watch him. I want to know how he does it.
But the next few tries does not prove to be that lucky for him. He has not hit the 100K mark. Though the mom in me is happy, the spectator in me is losing interest. I walk away thinking this would be the end of his playing session. But five minutes later, he’s back with a happy squeal. “Great. How did you do it?” me, trying to show enthusiasm. “If you keep trying, you can reach bigger score also”. 
“Ah, keep trying, is it?!”  
So I challenge him to beat his last score. I notice this time around he doesn’t bother to pick up the gold coins on his left or right. I’m naturally curious. “If you move to the side, the monkeys attack you, Mumma!”  <Note to self:  He does understand the concept of “watch and learn”, just refrains from applying it when I’m teaching him alphabet tracing.>
In fact, I get inkling that he’s learnt his first lesson in risk-taking. Evaluate your options. You need to forgo gold coins at times, especially when they come at a higher cost.
But I can’t help myself prompting him whenever I see a long sequence of gold coins, just waiting to be picked up. “You win by running, Mumma” he tells me, with an almost exasperated expression. Hmm…so you mean gold coins are not that important after all? Well, Did he just preach me the essence of life, a la Dalai Lama style, in his game lingo? Profound!
Now I’m not a big proponent of video games or anything (And trust me, Temple Run is not paying me any commission either), but I find myself reflecting on this experience, and realizing, Didn’t he just learn about not giving up, taking calculated risks, and focusing on what’s truly important? I wonder if it would have been possible to teach him all this, if it had not been for the stimulating environment of the video game.
More importantly, what chance do my sermonizing nags have against these entertaining mediums he’s learning from!
So here’s my tip #1 for all the new-age parents: Teaching cannot be banal anymore. Either be entertaining, or be forgotten. I say, start looking for animation and speech modulation workshops, if you remotely aspire to impart any of your life learning to your children.
Consequently, new-age parenting tip # 2 is: Make peace with the fact that your children are learning some good positive things from their environment and the resources at their disposal, however eerie they may seem to you.  (And if you cannot figure out what these good positive things are, you’re not thinking hard enough!)
By the way, energized by his valor, I decided to try my hand at Temple Running.I gave up after 12,455. I guess it requires focus and commitment. Wish I’d learnt that from him!
Here’s my last tip on new-age parenting:  Ask not what you’ve taught your children. Ask instead what have you learnt from your children!