Never underestimate the problem-solving ability of ten children under the age of 12, even up against an international problem.
“I sure am going to miss the Olympics this year!” eight-year-old Edwina Ludlow whined to her friend eight-year-old Gracie Trent next door. “I just love to see the women running and jumping!”
“In their cute suits for rolling around on the floor and stuff,” seven-year-old Amanda Ludlow chimed in.
“I think those are called floor exercises,” 11-year-old Velma Trent said, “but yeah, the suits are cute, and those girls are not that much older than we are.”
“So,” Gracie said, “let's just have the Olympics here, in the backyard and on the cul-de-sac.”
11-year-old Eleanor Ludlow and 10-year-old Andrew Ludlow were consulted for research.
“Well,” Andrew said, “it usually takes dozens of countries years to pull it together and weeks to do it all, but, we can actually get it all done by tomorrow.”
“It amazes me how much time it takes for grown people to do simple things,” Eleanor said. “I mean, folks have been doing the Olympics for thousands of years, off and on, and literally they could just set up the nearest wide open space in every country and just get it done.”
Sgt. Vincent Trent was the first person to notice the next morning that something was up – Gracie was up early and singing around the house at about the time he was having his coffee.
“Duh-duh-dooooooooooo-duh-duh-doobeedoobeedoobeedoobeedoo … .”
She did it going higher and higher and then lower and lower, and her father realized she was warming up her voice on her favorite little made up tune.
Around the cul-de-sac, Sgt. Trent looked over at the Ludlow house a little later – Amanda and Edwina and six-year-old Grayson were putting out construction paper chains in a familiar color pattern … a pattern his nine-year-old son Milton and 11-year-old daughter Velma were also drawing in marker on a huge sketchbook page.
It didn't hit him what was going on until later, when he heard the Olympic theme coming from both houses in children's choir form.
Out he and Mrs. Trent went to see their nine-year-old son Milton and Andrew Ludlow each carrying a lit flashlight to where their elder sisters were standing in their Sunday best, six feet apart, a big rock festooned with more paper chains in Olympic colors between them. On both houses, the Olympic symbol had been hung on the back porch, on the Ludlow house in paper-chain rings, and on the Trent house in a big sign.
Andrew solemnly handed his flashlight to his sister Eleanor, and Milton handed his flashlight to his sister Velma, and the two sisters took turns taking the flashlights to set them on the rock and to curtsy to each other.
“Oh, isn't this cute,” Mrs. Trent said. “They're having the Olympics here!”
Sgt. Trent scarcely heard that, thinking to himself about how children that age understood things and events … and then five-year-old Lil' Robert and six-year-old Grayson came out of the house with nothing on but vines tied around their little blond heads.
“We're gonna do it Greek style!” Lil' Robert said.
“Yeah!” nine-year-old brunette George said, coming out similarly undressed and having no clue that Grandpa Doom, with arms fully outstretched, white beard and hair flying, and blue eyes wild, was coming up out of the relative darkness of the house right behind him …
However, there was no time to see what happened there because there was a commotion in the kitchen, and Sgt. and Mrs. Trent went running just in time for the sergeant to catch Gracie jumping down from the kitchen counter with the Morton's Salt in her hands.
“Gracie, what in the world –?”
She was in her ballet leotard, minus the tutu, and had a perfectly reasonable explanation.
“Well, Dad, it's the Summer Olympics, and you can't have the Summer Olympics without gymnastics, and you can't have gymnastics without the floor exercises. We already put out your bedspread in the cul-de-sac for the floor, but you still can't have gymnastics without summer salts.”
Sgt. Trent dropped his daughter at that, but she just stepped down to the ground.
“The way y'all keep the important things up so high I feel like I should already have the rock climbing medal, but anyway, gotta go, because Amanda and Edwina are going to try to beat me in the cuteness department and I gotta get my summer salts ready!”
Gracie flashed her 1,000-watt smile in her pretty brown face and ran off, one second beyond the sudden lunge of her father.
Meanwhile, the Olympic racing was already on … George, Grayson, and Lil' Robert were running from their grandfather again, and Gracie was just running head out because she was just built for speed, with her parents behind her.
“This is probably not how we intended to plan this event,” Velma Trent said to Eleanor Ludlow as they stood in their Sunday best, guarding the Olympic torch flashlights, “but, shoot: everybody is breaking speed records.”
“I told you it doesn't take all that the grown folks are doing,” Eleanor said, “although somehow I think our Olympics will only take about an hour to be done.”
“Yep,” Velma said. “I think Lil' Robert and Grayson and George may have taken the Greek part too seriously for the crowd we have here.”
“Well, it's like I always say,” Eleanor said. “If you're going to try to live like a Greek god, you actually have to be a Greek god, and my little brothers aren't quite there yet – oh, look, your dad cleared a natural hurdle! This is getting better and better!”
“Oh – there goes Lil' Robert trying to vault without the summer salts out yet – and we see why that doesn't work, either,” Velma said, shaking her head. “Man down!”
“It's a good thing your parents' plush bedspread was there, though,” Eleanor said. “That could have been ugly. Do we get injury timeouts in the Olympics? Oh never mind, your dad just called it.”