Let the Games Begin: Birthday Olympics

For my sports-obsessed first-born son, there seemed to be no better theme for his 10th birthday party than the Olympics. And there was certainly no better venue for that than the school gym, which came with all the sports equipment you could ever want, a full kitchen for preparing food, and a helper to run the games. Plus it kept the craziness out of my house, so that alone was worth the price of the rental.

As the kids arrived, they drew names out of a box to see which country they would represent (Germany, Russia, Sweden or the USA — I deliberately didn’t have a Canada team because Brayden had pointed out that everyone would want to be on it). Then they got a pinnie in their respective team color.

Before we got started, I talked to them about how the Olympics are not about winning, but about competing — and then I had them all raise their right hands and take the Olympic oath: “I solemnly promise to play hard and play fair in the true spirit of sportsmanship.” This was my attempt to head off any tears, whining or excessive celebrating. It seemed more or less effective, so hey.

For the opening ceremony, Justin held the torch and led the procession of athletes around the gym while the Olympic theme song played over the sound system. I thought the kids might find this part kind of lame, but they all held up their team flags and seemed to be really into it. Then it was time to let the games begin!

We had two individual events (long jump and discus throw) and two team events (relay race and floor hockey). For the long jump, we had each kid stand on a line and see how far they could jump. They each got three tries and we took their best score. For the discus throw, we put a bunch of hula hoops on the floor at different distances and had each kid throw four frisbees — the furthest hoops were worth the most points.

The relay race had each team running to the wall, picking up a ball, and running back to dump it in a bucket, then tagging the next team member. This one was the toughest to judge because we had to know not just who finished first, but who also finished second and third. If I had to do it again, I’d probably have each team go individually and time them. That would’ve been easier.

Floor hockey was the main event, of course. We had two games going simultaneously, then the winners played each other for gold and the others played for bronze.

We handed out gold, silver and bronze medals for each event and then added up the team totals for the final standings. Gold medals were worth three points, silver was two and bronze was one. We just happened to end up with a tie for gold, so all four teams got at least one medal, which was probably the best thing that could have happened.

A great party!