When watching grown-up TV with your kids goes wrong: the Tour de France
Thought I’d repost my entry on the Tour de France, and update it with a few notes as it heads to Paris. (And if you want to know what I really think of Bradley Wiggins‘ sideburns, see here.) All I can say is that I should have planned our summer better and put C in camp while the Tour was on, because it starts live every day at 8 am, and before we head to the playground or the swimming hole or wherever we go that day, we’re watching, darn it! And if les enfants ask to switch channels, I will pronounce a firm “non” and fob them off with a baguette…
I might defend Caillou, but it’s not like I want to watch that bald a****** all the time. Sometimes, I want to enjoy a television program with my child – it can make for the start of an interesting conversation. Plus, why does my four-year-old always have to be in control of the remote? Can’t a mother take a break and watch her own program for five minutes? But sometimes my well-intentioned attempts go awry. Here’s the first in (hopefully) a series of posts about fails in which I’ve encouraged my four-year-old to watch grown-up TV.
The Tour de France: I can’t be bothered to ride a bike myself (unless my sister takes me to SoulCycle and that’s only because I think I’m going to see a celebrity), but I love watching professional cycling. I love everything about it: the arcane terminology (peloton! lanterne rouge! rouleur! domestique! le doping!); the strategy; the soap-opera-level fighting between teams; the beautiful scenery they blaze past, and the European-ness of it all. I think I like that part best of all.
Plus, watching the Tour is a major time commitment – it’s on for about three hours a day for about three weeks in July. And thanks to the excellent coverage on NBC Sports, I want to watch the whole thing. So I need a buy-in from my kid. Come on! It’s a hot day, the baby’s sleeping, take a little break with your mother and watch a little bit of cycling! We’ll have a cold drink. We’ll talk about the beautiful castles and forests they cycle by. I’ll try to explain the strategy. As we watch I will encourage a personal dream I have in which my two boys grow up to become the American Schleck brothers – they’ve already got the elfin, adorable part down! C could be like Frank, the older, quietly tenacious one, and T could be Andy, younger, a charmer. How proud must their mother be: two brothers, riding together to the top of their sport! Mine could do the same – right? And I, as their faithful and doting mother, could tour Europe with them – The Ardennes! Milan-San Remo! The Vuelta a Espana! – traveling with their team, cooking them well-balanced meals, doling out words of encouragement, fighting off the press and those kissy-kissy podium girls.
It started pretty well – C loves to ride his own bike, so he was pretty into it. He loved to hear about the different-colored jerseys, and what they mean, and how the riders work together, and work so hard to achieve their goals yada yada, and then…CRASH
With apologies to poor Johnny Hoogerland, C just wanted to watch this over and over. And in the telecast, crashes get showed over and over – and there are lots of them. So then, that’s all he wanted to watch. But the crashes aren’t part of a dream du maman. So au revoir, maillot jaune. Au revoir, peloton. Au revoir, dream.
[Update: I should add that Andy Schleck himself, my favorite cyclist, fell victim to a crash at the Criterium du Dauphine, in the run-up to the Tour, and broke his a*s, well, his sacrum. And I did tune in to a press conference on a Luxembourgish website to watch him announce that he would not be riding the Tour. Yes, I actually did that. I feel terrible for him (and his mother), and while I am sad I can't watch him take the yellow jersey in the mountains this year, I am looking forward to his return to cycling when he is fully recovered. His brother, Frank, is still in the race and I hope he sticks it to everyone in the Pyrenees.]
[Update #2: I love Phil Liggett, his call of the Tour de France made a cycling fan out of me. But since I can't possibly comment on Frank Schleck's departure from the Tour, except to say it makes me so sad, I thought I'd give good old Phil a few notes.
1 - It's NI-bali, not Ni-BA-li. Forza lo Squalo dello Stretto.
2- It's Nissan ALT-ima, not Al-TI-ma, bless you for not knowing the pronunciation of such a banal automobile.
3 - I know I link to Johnny Hoogerland's infamous crash above, but I have to say, Phil (and Paul Sherwen), I don't think we need to mention that he flew headlong into a barbed-wire fence during last year's Tour EVERY time his name comes up. We already know; he already knows, and I think he'd probably like to be known as something other than the guy who got hit with a flying Flecha, and then (this one is pointed at the people who make those cycling montages for the TV coverage) cried on the podium when he got the Most Combative award later that day. So let's not mention it anymore. Unless it helps his lawsuit. If that's true, go on and mention it whenever you like. Allez Johnny.]