There’s a half-moon-shaped bruise on my right calf. Looks like a four-inch sickle. I earned it when Sadie’s head slammed into my leg. At the time I was peacefully reclining on the floor, waiting for her to join me for a little mother-and-child reading before bedtime. She, however, was busy trying to put Jeff in a half-Nelson.
Grabbing my calf, I was all, hey, kiddo, I grew up watching the Von Erichs “wrestle” every Saturday morning. Every time one died, I cried real tears. I had consecutive crushes on each of them (never Fritz, come on, I’m not Lolita). I know wrestling. My brother used to put me in the stomach claw, and I learned to ka-pow him where it really hurts. I know from wrestling.
Given my extensive early training in wrestling over the ottoman and in the yellow linoleum floor in our otherwise placid 1970’s household, you’d think I’d be better equipped to embrace my own children’s need to get their rough-and-tumble on. But I’ve been reluctant. I’m worried one of them will get hurt. I’m worried what very few precious items I own (St. Francis statue from my parents, Willie Nelson poster, Ikea lamp) will get ruined in the melee. So far they are too little to do real damage, but there are boo boos and head bonks.
I did some research and learned that this physical play turns out to be very good for kids. My instinct to make them sit down and work the crossword puzzle quietly is misguided. Kids need to rough-house with one another, and I need to let them explore this side of themselves.
Easy? No. Worthwhile? Science says yes.
Click here to see how I’ve come around on wrestling. It’s good for kids– builds resilience, physical strength and makes their brains stronger. So, convert that basement to a rubber room and let ‘em at each other.