Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Several years ago, after I had gotten married but before the thought of having kids changed from a terrifying proposition to a mildly stressful one, John and I went to visit his family who live in Jefferson City, Missouri. John has three older sisters and no brothers, putting his mother in the low category of male-dominated household ailments (MDHA) with just two males in the household. John did his part in his teen years to make up in quality what the household lacked in MDHA quantity. More stories on that in the future.

At the time of the visit, John’s sisters were all in various stages of motherhood. His sister, Nancy, had invited a friend and her two boys over to play with Nancy’s kids. As I sat in the living room with Nancy and her friend, I watched as her friend sat on the floor and tried to hold a conversation with Nancy as her two sons individually or simultaneously attacked her. It was mesmerizing. The boys pounced on her relentlessly, wrapping their limbs around her head and pummeling her body time and time again. And she sat there. And she continued her conversation. And I kept wondering, “Why doesn’t she stop them? Why doesn’t she get up off of the floor and move to the couch?” These thoughts were followed quickly by “I am never having boys – ever.” Which, just by making the statement, instantly guaranteed that both of my children would be boys.

I finally have the answers to the questions that perplexed me so back then, based on my own experience as a mother of boys. First, she didn’t stop them because she could not. Boys are wrestlers. And they feed off of each other. One boy wrestling is like a war cry to any other boy within ear shot. Before you know it, you’re being ambushed on all sides by hands and feet and heads. From the moment my boys wake up to the time they go to sleep, they want to wrestle. And the wrestling possibilities for them are endless. Just good ol’ normal wrestling isn’t always enough for them. Wrestling has to evolve. At our house, it has evolved into various games – there is chase-wrestle, hide-and-go-seek wrestle, pelt-ball wrestle, in-the-pitch-black-wrestle, try not to fall out of the bunk bed-wrestle and on and on. Nancy’s friend, the experienced mom, knew that it was easier to sit there and wrestle with her boys while protecting herself from injury as best as possible and carrying on a conversation than it was to try to stop her boys from wrestling. That would be like trying to cage a tornado. At the time, I foolishly thought she had a choice in the matter. I now know better.

Second, she didn’t move to the couch because proximity has nothing to do with the stoppage of wrestling. Moving to the couch would have just added the exciting elements of height and bounce to the wrestling game, most likely prolonging the match further. Also, coffee tables and wrestling children don’t mix. The mother wisely stayed on the floor where the most likely injury would involve one of her body parts and not one of her children’s.

So, my question to you other women suffering from the MDHA of too much wrestling, where does this urge to wrestle come from? Are boys born with it, or does it spread through the air on a testosterone-laced cloud, landing on all y-chromosomes in its path. And, knowing that it can’t be stopped, how do we remove ourselves from the middle of it? Is there a look or a word or a hiding spot that will protect us from the daily and sometimes hourly onslaught?

I suspect that the most powerful weapon against these wrestling minions is time. That friend of Nancy’s probably no longer is dealing with this particular MDHA. And I suspect she would glance on my wrestling events with a mix of envy, nostalgia, and a sigh of relief. Boys grow up, and eventually that urge to wrestle is replaced by driving and girls. Then, the sons and grandsons come along, reminding that man who once was a wrestling boy how fun it all was. That’s when the lessons begin. Future mothers, prepare to take cover.

The boys don't take a break from wrestling, even at the Cardinal baseball game.

No comments: