Homeschooling Harry: Wrestling

SAM_8079I wasn’t planning to write this today, but it literally just happened and I’m still a bit giddy about it so I thought I’d get it down right now.

I’ve been reading The Art of Roughhousing by Anthony Benedet and Lawrence Cohen. I can’t remember how I came across it – I imagine it was mentioned in one of the dozens of parenting/home ed books I’ve read lately and it appealed to me partly because I don’t really do roughhousing and partly because Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen is one of the best parenting books I’ve ever read.

The book begins with the many benefits of roughhousing with your kids – apparently it’s good for emotional intelligence, physical strength, motor skills, it can “nurture close connections, solve behavior problems, boost confidence”. As I was reading I was thinking it all sounds great, but do I really want to wrestle? Not so much. Plus I’ve no idea how to go about it. Where do you begin? I needn’t have worried. In the next chapter, the authors give examples and they’re as simple as putting the kids in a trap (you know, with your arms or legs around them rather than an actual trap) and challenging them to get out. David’s always done this with Harry and Joe – he calls it a “cuddle trap”. Or sitting down on your kid and pretending you don’t know they’re there – I do this all the time: “This cushion is surprisingly lumpy!”Β Or standing palm to palm and trying to push each other over. Or simple horsey-rides on your knee. As I read, I thought it sounded doable.

This morning, Harry came up to the bedroom and flopped down on my bed. So I sat on him. As I told him about the book I’d been reading, I started to do stuff like grab him with my legs and roll him over. He was already laughing and starting to join in and he looked both a bit surprised and a bit thrilled. I told him if either person wanted to stop and get free they could say a word like “Peanut” and the other person had to stop immediately. He said, “Peanut!” I stopped. I said, “Didn’t you like it?” He said, “Un-peanut!” We started again.

We wrestled for about five minutes, trapping each other with our legs and trying to get free. He is surprisingly strong! And we were laughing so much that Joe came up to join us. I told Joe the rules and added “No biting and no jumping” and we did it for a bit longer. Then I told them there’s a list of activities in the book, from very simple to much harder and would they like to work through them. They both said yes and so we tried the pushing with our palms things and Harry beat me 4-1, FFS. Joe couldn’t quite manage it and got a bit giddy, so we stopped. Then there may have been some trumping and we all ended up lying on the bed in fits.

And it was just fantastic. The whole thing. I loved how excited the boys were – Harry in particular seemed really thrilled. I loved that it was me doing it and not David because it’s not the kind of thing I usually do with them – I noticed when we looked through last year’s photos that when anything physical was going on, David was doing it and I was taking photos of it.

But mainly it was just really good fun (and good exercise – I should think I’ll feel it in my thighs tomorrow).

Bit perturbed that the Amazon blurb says ‘Arriving just in time for Father’s Day … the perfect gift for rowdy dads everywhere’, but the book makes clear it’s great for mothers and daughters too, obviously.


15 thoughts on “Homeschooling Harry: Wrestling

  1. I was so relieved when I read Cohen’s book (that you recommended!) as I find myself drawn to silly games like that (“I bet you can’t break out of my cuddle… ohhh! You’re so strong” – she immediately comes back for more). I worried for a bit that I might be teaching her that my physical presence overrides hers, but I’m very clear on stopping if it’s ever not fun.

    It’s such a fantastic bonding exercise, and so hard to explain without sounding nuts. πŸ™‚

    1. I’ve worried about that with David’s cuddle trap too. Sometimes find myself yelling at him to let them go. But I won’t worry now.

  2. Craig (43) was roughhousing with his dad (70) while his parents were here for their visit. You could see the joy in both of them as it happened. We’ve always roughhoused with our children, even the boys with me*. It’s good to know that we’ve done something right! πŸ™‚

    *as in they don’t care that I’m a woman. Not that I shouldn’t because I’m a woman. But you knew that, right?

    1. I lolled at ‘they don’t care that I’m a woman’ but, yes, I knew. Sounds like a C&W song. So lovely re Craig and his dad.

  3. This is really interesting, Keris – and delightful to hear how well your roughhousing session went with Harry and Joe! I know that I don’t roughhouse with my kids at all and it’s something I’ve thought about/worried about, as I can absolutely see the benefits in terms of confidence-building, closeness and fun… You’ve inspired me to give it a try. Gulp :o)

  4. Jack’s an only child, and a big softie in heart and mind, and I’ve always roughhoused with him, to show him where the limits are when messing with mates, to show what’s acceptable, and if his friends go rougher than he wants, that he doesn’t have to take it. Kids *are* rough, and playground can be a real dominance exhibition, and I never wanted Jack to feel bottom of the pack. He’s a big lad, actually weighs the same as me now, and when he runs at me, he literally floors me! I really enjoy playing with him, in any form, and rolling about on the bed dodging grabbing arms, and tickling fingers is, as you say, exercise, and probably the only exercise I actually do hah!

    1. Yes, that’s exactly what it says in the book about knowing/understanding limits.

      And my thighs were hurting *yesterday* !!!

  5. We love doing that sort of thing – I had no idea it had a name! Ben and Olivia always find it hilarious when I sit on them (gently) and say ‘ooh this is a bit lumpy!’ Also love the ‘there may have been some trumping’ comment – well of course there was trumping! Roughhousing sounds a bit scary though….

  6. Reminds me of my own childhood. My dad and my brother always used to do this with me. Sadly it isn’t something I’ve repeated with my own kids. Have you heard of feral play? That might be something you could use as part of your home schooling too.

  7. I’ve always encouraged Lyra to be physical and she loves climbing and generally throwing herself about, but I realise that I’ve been leaving the wrestling to my husband. You’ve inspired me to try it myself. Thanks. (I’ve just had a hilarious image of children around the country not knowing what’s hit them when they get home from school and their mothers launch themselves at them.)

  8. This is such a timely post. My OH has always done ‘tumble time’ with our now 3yo, but I tend to leave it to him, but last week MM started running at me and I’d grab him and kind of fling him to the ground. We wrestled for ages and he loved it and so did I. He particularly seemed to like that it was me and not his Dad.

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