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Nina In New York: The 2014 Winter Parenting Olympic Games

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 12: A snowboarder flies thru the Olympic Rings during the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at BC Place on February 12, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.

Opening Ceremony, Vancouver 2010 (Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
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By Nina Pajak

Sochi, Sochi, Sochi. Sooochi. So-shee. So-chee.

At least it’s a fun word to say. How do you say it, again?

Whatever your thoughts regarding the location for the 22nd Winter Olympics–say, that it’s a bastion of corrupt government, human rights violations, terrorism, mass dog murder, and egregiously poor budgeting, for instance–I think it’s important to remember that it’s all about the games now. These athletes have worked their whole lives to represent their countries on the world stage, and it’s pretty darn amazing to watch them do their thing. It isn’t their fault the IOC is filled with a bunch of stinky buttheads whose decision-making skills are dubious at best. So despite the fact that I would like to type a bunch of unprintable words right now, I’m going to compartmentalize and simply cheer on our compatriots as they hurl their finely-tuned bodies down mountains and luges and into the air and across ice. I love winter sports.

I mean watching them, of course. Not participating in them. Oh goodness me, no.

That’s okay. Those attempting to shepherd babies and young children through these brutal winter months have their own challenges with which to contend. Perhaps they don’t require the same level of training and preparation as the ones on display in Sochi right now, which is good because the athletes largely have none of each, whatsoever. But make no mistake: these sports are mentally and physically taxing, and not for the faint of heart. Welcome to the 2014 Winter Parenting Olympic Games.

First, we’ve got the Freestyle Cross Country Stroller Walk. Athletes must contend with massive snowbanks blocking corners, sidewalks coated in an uneven, inches-deep layer of sheer ice, snow-narrowed streets and walkways, irritated pedestrians, irresponsible winter drivers, and invisible puddles camouflaged by slush all while steering a device which contains precious cargo and was barely intended to go outdoors, let alone off-road. Points are lost and awarded for speed, safety, grace, creativity (in swearing under ones breath), and perseverence when that sucker just. Won’t. Go.

Switching gears, the sport of Indoor Endurance (solo and pairs) is a game played above-the-neck. Competitors are placed in a confined space with a tiny, irrational, often non-verbal human whose every need and whim must be addressed and who has the attention span of a goldfish. Solo athletes must not only survive by their wits and ingenuity, but must also remain awake in touch with reality throughout the course of play. Pairs teams must both emerge alive and uninjured to be considered for a medal.

When children are kept indoors, they are understimulated. Understimulated children tend to resent the very suggestion that they should take a nap. Similar to its Summer Olympics counterpart, Naptime Cage Match, the Winter game of Pacifier Hurling involves speed, reflexes, and strength. Participants must dodge, retrieve, and replace dozens of pacifiers being furiously chucked from the baby’s crib, all without disrupting the quiet or turning on the lights. They will come fast and furious and land in all corners of the room, hidden under and behind furniture. These athletes are renowned for their deep knee bends, squats, jumps, and cat-like movements. Between Olympics, many of them also compete in the XYZ-Games’ storied High Chair Gauntlet, a similar if more intense version of this event.

Baby Wrestling is something of a sport for all seasons. The Winter version challenges athletes to stuff an irate, squirming, stiff, uncooperative, overheated baby into a warm coat, mittens, a hat, and booties. Gear must be properly and completely zipped and buttoned, and items removed by the baby at any point en route to the finish line mean instant disqualification.

There’s also the Don’t Eat Carbs event, during which parents must will themselves not to stuff simple carbohydrates in their mouths throughout the day, during the intermittent two-minute intervals they’re given to eat something while the baby is playing quietly, sleeping, or distracted. Likewise, there’s the ever-popular How Many Tortilla Chips Can You Stress Eat Before You Can’t Ignore The Crying Any Longer, which is very popular among athletes who cross-compete in games like the aforementioned Naptime Cage Match and Cry It Out Battle of Wills.

The 2014 Winter Parenting Olympics is sponsored by the Polar Vortex, Wintry Mix, and white wine. A whole lot of white wine.

Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter!