Watching the Olympic Trials with Little Cuter is a trip down memory lane. She's as happy as a clam right now, snuggled on Benito-the-couch beneath a soft and gooshy blanket, fondling Thomas-the-wonder-dog's ear and smiling with delight. SIR is curled up next to her, the only one of us who has to go to work on Monday morning. He may go to bed earlier than we because my little girl and I are going to watch every flip and turn and stroke until NBC stops showing them.
In elementary school, Little Cuter was obsessed with Dominique Moceaneau. She read the autobiography, which opened on its own to the photos in the center. She studied the scoring and her commentary was every bit as cogent and informative as the televised talking heads. Look at that.. did you see how she.... oh, too bad... that will be a deduction... I was as impressed with her performance as I was with the gymnasts themselves.
And now, two decades later, with many of the same faces at the judges' table and wearing the coaching jackets, she's lost none of her enthusiasm. We've been counting down the hours til 8pm, when the gymnasts would take the screen. We paid some small amount of attention to the track
Do they have to perform on each piece, SIR wondered? Little Cuter had the answer before I could search out the answer on-line. What happens when they step outside the center square in the floor exercise? Again, Little Cuter to the rescue. She's got the scoring and the rules and the personalities down pat.
Nastia Liukin fell off the un-even parallel bars and my girl was as upset as she was. Alicia Sacramone nailed her routine and my girl was ecstatic. It's not that she wants to be on the floor with the athletes. She's admiring their strength and their agility and their focus.
Rebecca Bross's knee exploded last year; her patella bears a gigantic scar and is swollen beyond recognition. She fell off the uneven bars once.... twice... three times before she walked away from the routine. The camera went to the judges' table; there wasn't a dry eye. As Little Cuter remarked, these girls and the adults surrounding the sport are like a family. They have known one another through juniors and seniors and the Olympic competitions. One's pain is felt throughout the arena.
Joan Ryan's Little Girls in Pretty Boxes exposed the ugly underside of the sport. It seems to me that the girls are more womanly this year, with more curves and less girlishness. They are powerful and thoughtful and they know that this is more than wanting a puppy for Christmas; this is the Olympics.