Watching some of the Olympics

February 24, 2014

Dear Friends,

I hope you managed to get some cozy time with your kids over the prolonged break– the two snow days at the beginning made the vacation seem particularly long.  And I know I heard from MANY families and kids that they really, truly missed school.  I felt so lucky hearing that.

During our time off my family and I enjoyed watching some of the Olympics.  Yes, my queer family did that.  I thought it was worth sharing our process– the one that got us to the point of watching, rather than boycotting or smearing or hating the Olympics in a year when they were held in a place that has some bad and scary politics  that affect people like us.

Before the games began, I was pretty sure we’d have to skip the Sochi ’14 Olympics to make sure our kids knew that, without question, their moms were not down with homophobia or violence. I came home from school one day and Becky and the kids were talking about watching– in particular the skiing and snowboarding.  You know, those sports felt so relevant after the Center School Winter Program!   I flinched.  The boys were aware of some of the issues in Russia; they had heard from friends and family.  And they know what a boycott is– of course.  They talked about that too.  They were ready to be guided by us in either direction– to watch or not to watch.  But something about the fact that the boys were boiling it down to Russia being so mean and bad and hateful of gays gave us pause– and Becky especially.  When she was eight she had spent a summer vacation in the former Soviet Union with her mother.  They were traveling with members of the British Communist Party and Sochi was one of their stops– Becky loved the Black Sea with its backdrop of majestic mountains; there were kind people, it was an interesting culture.  Becky felt that portraying Russia to our children as a country of oppression and hate, without pointing our own country’s own issues/demons was wrongheaded.  She wants our kids to know that Russia’s leadership is doing some hateful things.  But that is true here too.  We have anti-gay laws on our books in several states.  Gay bashing occurs here too.  Cruel things are said in our own media.  Pointing fingers and being self-righteous is clearly not getting us anywhere.

This is just to say that grappling in front of the kids was a good thing.  Sharing our thinking with the boys allowed us to get to the nuances of what makes Americans sometimes act like real snobs, and xenophobic, also superior. We told the boys that we don’t hate Russia.

A few days later, we sat down together in front of the box (that’s what Becky calls it) and watched and cheered.  For the Russians. For the Germans.  For the Slovakians.  The Jamaicans.  The Japanese.  We cheered for athletes:  ice dancers, snowboarders, bobsledders…

We did not boycott the Olympics.  Oh, but we DID mute all the multinational corporate commercials.

Charlie Spencer, Head of School
Contact Charlie: Email
Phone: 413-773-1700
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