A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Men's Room
The two boys looked to be in the realm of 7-9 years old, their father in his late 30's. As the father talked to the pair with a stern tone I noticed one of the boys with a bit of blood on his shirt, and upon further review I saw the father wiping blood from the young lad's nose. The father reminded them of the rules... "No wrestling in church" he said, and I smirked as I recalled the days of my youth when I myself engaged in a bit of horseplay at Manor Brethren in Christ Church back home in Lancaster, PA.
"Back in the day we called that roughhousing" I noted as I smiled and walked past. "Yes we wrestle at home quite a bit, but the rules are no wrestling in Church" The father replied as he continued to clean up the younger of the two boys, his tone turning to laughter as he surely recalled the days of his youth, when he himself was told by his father about horseplay, roughhousing, and wrestling in church and so forth.
As the conversation progressed we bantered about the good old days, when we wrestled in gym class, had three recess periods per day, and kick-ball wasn't played with modified rules. "Kickball??" I said,. "You mean to tell me they ruined kickball??" "I'm afraid so" he replied, you can no longer throw the ball at the runner to get them out, you have to throw it to the base......."
And so it was, the kickball story inspired this blog post today. Let me say first and foremost I am proud to come from an era when dodgeball was a regular occurrence in the gym at Manor Church, there were no modified rules, and our youth group played said dodgeball with Tachikara volleyballs. We had some serious athletes in our youth group, and the games were quite intense for lack of a better term. If you've ever seen a volleyball spike to the face from an elite level swing you know what can happen when playing dodgeball with volleyballs... But play we did, and I do not recall anyone, whether parent or participant, ever mention we switch to a foam style ball or change the rules in any way. Headshots technically were not allowed, but their regular occurrence nonetheless never resulted in ball changes, or worse, abandoning play altogether.
Kickball games were also abundant in my youth, and a favorite recess pastime at Mountville Elementary School. Looking back, I cannot imagine the outcry had we not been allowed to "tag" runners out by throwing the ball at them. I should note that not only did we throw the ball at runners to tag them out, we played on the macadam at Mountville, and the right field area consisted of an intricate jungle gym play set. Imagine the skill needed by a 6th grader to catch a popup in right field amidst the playground seahorses, run to within throwing distance, and finally nail the guy tagging up from third on his way home...all while being "careful" not to fall and skin a knee or elbow on the macadam. Some skill indeed!!
Other fond memories of my youth include more wrestling matches with Dad than I can remember, and this was a nightly ritual that I am blessed to have been able to experience. Boys wrestle with their fathers. If they do not they should. Strengthened is the father-son relationship that experienced playful roughhousing!!
I have heard the horror stories of schools cutting back and recess, dumbing down gym class, and engaging in the general "safety" hysteria of the day...but until this morning I had never been face to face with a man living in the grasp. I could almost sense a feeling of loss in his voice, a sense that his sons might be missing something that he himself experienced, and his father before him and so on. Yes, there was a hint of sadness in his voice when we talked of the old days, not in the sense of pining for times gone by, but for the souls of many generations of men to come...
Some thoughts and links...in bullet format -
- More and more adults in the professional world are moving towards standing desks, yet we still ask 12 year old boys to sit for 7 hours a day?
- Will the majority of classrooms in the future have standing desks? Why is this trend slow to make its way to schools?
- Educators who use standing desks in the classroom love them!
- Roughhousing...wrestling...horseplay...whatever you want to call it, it is a good thing!
- Some important people are worried about the death of recess in schools.
- Did we really need to modify the rules of kickball?
- What are we losing by valuing playground safety over "old school" learning?
- What would our grandfathers think?
- And their fathers before them?
- Will you wrestle with your sons?
- As a son did you wrestle with dad?
- Were your playground experiences safe, or filled with a bit of risk?
- Looking back, how did these moments shape your life and how did they play a role in the man you are today?