Updated: Mar 13, 2020
It's my weekend off, so my wife had to work last night and is back to work this morning as I write this. For new readers, we do this trade off to avoid the exorbitant cost of babysitters and day care. I just finished rebuilding the boy's Christmas train tracks (for the 100th time) and they are playing somewhat quietly as I sit with my cold cup of coffee to do a little morning writing. I will inevitably be interrupted roughly fifteen times by the end of this post, but right now, all I hear are adorable giggles and shouts of, "all aboard!" - update: 15 times was a meager estimate.
Last night however, their play was a bit more violent. Not mean-spirited, but two boys so close in age have inherent aggression that often needs to be expelled somehow, especially on a wet and icy day like yesterday was. Case in point, a new game was invented by the little monsters in the evening hours. A game they would never get away with playing if their mother was home. They know this. But there was a football game on last night and I'm typically more inclined to let them play a little rougher as long as there isn't any throwing, no one gets irreparably hurt - or there is no danger of the younger boy's glasses being broken.
The game was literally called, "Watch out!" You may be able to imagine what this game entailed and you'd probably be right. The title of the contest is wildly transparent but I'll explain regardless. Because there are no doors on my den/office (often to my chagrin), there is a circular path that leads from the den, thought the front hall, to the kitchen, to the dining room, and back to the den. The boys begin in one spot together and then run full speed in opposite directions. When they meet in the middle they yell, "watch out!" Promptly slamming into each other.
The older boy is a lot more sturdy, so in the early developments of the game, the younger boy was always on his back. My eldest son hovering over him. Both boys were cracking up. The younger one is resourceful, however. Before I was even able to coach him, he figured out that lowering his center of gravity would aid in taking his older brother down during the next crash. He dropped his head and put it right in the older boy's bread basket. Teeth gritted and face taught. Almost textbook. They both toppled over laughing hysterically. You would think I'd interject here, but I wanted to wear them out before bed and if I'm being honest, I was enjoying the carnage. My contribution was to teach my youngest son to not lead with his head. Keep your head up and lead with the shoulder. No concussions on my watch.
"Lets play, Watch Out!" They would yell in between sessions where they would sit and watch the football game with me for a few minutes, sipping water like pro athletes during a time-out.
"Okay," the other would cry out, and off they would go! There was one instance where the older boy came to me crying - not because he was hurt - but because the recent crash caused him to pee a little in his underwear. He never had accidents anymore -as he is incredibly independent - but he also has been known to hold his urine until he has no choice but to run to the bathroom. It made sense that a jarring collision would cause him to let a little pee out. I had to give him a big hug and console him. I let him know it was okay. I wasn't mad. It worked out actually, because it made a great opportunity to get them both in their pajamas.
There were surprisingly only two instances where they met for a crash that caused some tears to be spilled - one incident for each boy. On both occurrences, they had ran and jumped on my lap where I looked them over...no blood, nothing broken. All good.
"Listen," I calmly told them both on the separate occasions, "you're playing a rough game. You have two options. You can stop playing the game, or you can toughen up a bit." Their tears instantly dried up...as I knew they would. They didn't want to stop. In fact, the younger child shouted after my little pep talk, "hey! Let's play the rough game!"
It carried on for much longer than I had anticipated, thinking they would eventually run out of steam. They never did. They were still running wild by the time bedtime rolled around but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. While it took a little wrangling to get them to brush their teeth, once they began to wind down during our nighttime routine, both children ended up peacefully asleep several minutes before their scheduled bedtime. A rare occurrence. I didn't even miss the end of the football game because it had gone into overtime! Not a bad evening of parenting if I do say so myself.
I'm sure some of you moms have rolled your eyes several times during the course of this post (including my wife and mother), but thats okay. I understand your trepidation. However, as my Dad used to say, "no blood, no foul." I call that a win.