The kids were sitting at the table the other day, reading messages on little candy hearts, when my son asked my daughter a question. She didn’t know the answer, so she asked me, “Mom, what’s a soul mate?”
I replied, “Well, it’s when two things are meant to be together. Like with me and Daddy. It’s love like no other love, and nothing can ever come between you.”
She thought for a second about how to properly relay this information to her little brother, then she turned to him and said, “It’s like how our dog feels about her bowl of food.”
And just like that, I went from someone’s soul mate to just another piece of meat.
My husband, the kids and I recently ate dinner at a local tavern called, The Winking Lizard. This restaurant is well-known for its buttery popcorn that you serve up yourself out of a giant popper (which the kids love), and also for its World Beer Tour (which the adults enjoy).
They also have a very large, glass-enclosed area where they house a live lizard. Not some pansy gecko, but a big creature the size of a tree limb. Needless to say, my six year old son was quite interested in it.
But I didn’t quite grasp his excitement, because I didn’t see it coming when he came back to the table after using the restroom, and loudly announced to our table and to a roomful of patrons, “Hey Dad! I just went to the bathroom and I saw the big lizard!”
Let me set the record straight right here at the outset, I am not a goodie-two-shoes. I like loud music, I like beer. And when it comes to addiction, I have a long and sordid history with chocolate.
But I am not a national champion. I am not a role model to millions of children, and even if I were, I doubt my indulgence in Corona and Dove Bars would bring my image crashing down. Though, I would probably get some flack for Cadbury Creme Eggs and the occasional Schlitz.
When is it going to be okay for me to tell my children they can look up to an athlete? Ever? Performance enhancing drugs (also widely known as cheating), recreational drugs, infidelity, outlandish salaries and yet always asking for more money…the greed, corruption and excess is not okay.
It is not okay, because Billy down at swim club is watching you, Michael Phelps. And, now? Billy’s mom is not real pleased. “What, Billy? Oh, him? That’s your idol, and that there is his bong.”
I can keep my kids from watching trash television, I can keep my daughter from listening to Britney Spears, but now am I supposed to ban them from the Olympics too? For those of you who say Michael Phelps is just a regular guy having fun, that’s bunk. He is not a pop-star, he’s an athlete. He’s an American superstar. If he didn’t want kids to look up to him, he shouldn’t have gone and won eight gold medals.
Which is why this guy has been, and will always be, my hero. This guy, all his teammates, and especially his coach. This is the person I will tell my children to look up to. Someone who never complains, someone who gives it his all, and someone who probably won’t be passing a peace pipe anytime soon.
Watch the whole thing. It will make your day. Warning: Tissues required.