As I began to type this, my dear husband was wailing on our three boys with a battle axe and a sword. They were in heaven. The battle royale went on for over a half an hour, and even when they were all breathing heavy, no one wanted to be the first to give in (although Ryan feigned a leg wound and fought from the ground for a few minutes to catch a breather.)
I think they would've kept on fighting half the night if I hadn't called them in for supper. They ran into the kitchen, smiles on their faces and red marks all over the shirtless boys' backs and necks - and probably a few hidden on Daddy as well. As we set the table, they panted heavy, traded a little trash talk, and tried to get a few last whacks in before I finally made them stop fighting. They still talked trash during the meal: the boys making threats, giving themselves battle names, and Ryan shouting "I am fierrrrrce!!!!" with his scary wrestle-mania face.
Do I like all the violence in my household? You betcha! Though they are rough, loud, and rowdy, I know they're learning to be men from a great example of one. And despite frequent, "Babe!" warnings from me when I feel like a little warrior might be close to tears, Ryan really doesn't let up on the dudes. Sure, he spends half his energy making sure no blows are truly dangerous (to the boys or him - usually the most lethal shots come from the no-holds-barred baby of the family who's not above a good crotch shot). But he doesn't give them false praise or let them win very often. As a result, our boys are tough and feel a true sense of pride when they get a good shot in on their ruthless opponent. I may not understand it, but there's definitely something to this roughhousing form of bonding. The older two, especially, look at Daddy with different eyes after he's just handed out a butt-whoopin'--and it's not the "What the heck do you think you're doing?" look I'd be giving anyone who just battle axed me in the gut. In fact, tonight Ryan gave Calvin a whack I thought was a little unnecessarily rough. I said so, and Calvin jumped to his defense. "What!? That didn't even hurt at all!"
Thankfully, Daddy is just as quick to give them hugs, kisses, and tickles, and he's taken to reading adventure books to them in the evenings, but their favorite way to spend time with Daddy is still a rough and rowdy wrastlin' match. I'll just stay out of the wrestling ring within the safety of the couch and shout "be careful" warnings at the fierce one.