When, I sat down to finish the masterful trilogy about my day, I realized that Part I started at 6:30pm and took us through the night and Part II picked up the following morning and finished at 5:30pm, so I thought, “Huh, I guess I don’t really need a Part III.” And then I laughed. Out loud. HARD. One of those ironic laughs that really means, “Oh, that’s SO not funny because it’s so NOT TRUE.” (C’mon, you know the laugh I mean… it’s also the one I use when my daughter says, “Mommy, I’m ALWAYS going to tell you everything! Because you’ll always be my BEST FRIEND!”)
Anyway, I laughed like that because anyone who has kids, watches a TV shows with kids, has visited a house with kids, or lives next door to a house with kids, knows that the sixty minutes between 5:30 and 6:30 is usually jam-packed with enough activity to fill an entire blog, nevermind one post.
It’s the hour sometimes referred to as the “Witching Hour,” because as my good friend Wiki* just told me “The witching hour is the time of day when supernatural creatures such as witches and demons are thought to appear and be at their most powerful, and their black magic at its most effective.”
Hmmm, a few, quick, simple edits…
witching BITCHING hour is the time of day when … demons KIDS are thought to appear HANG ON MY EVERY LIMB and be at their most powerful LOUDEST, and their black magic WHINING & COMPLAINING at its most effective ANNOYING.”
Yes. That seems right.
In our house, the Bitching Hour can be summarized in two simple words: Wrestle. Baby. “Wrestle Baby” is a game – and by “game,” I mean “physically wild and violent activity” – that our two older kids started playing when the second one was old enough to hold his hands up to protect his eyes.
It begins with the oh-so-benign question, “May I be excused [from the dinner table]?” As soon as permission has been granted, someone screams, “WRESTLE BABY!” and to quote Max (or Maurice Sendak), “Let the wild rumpus begin!”
We had to decide early on how permissive we were going to be about Wrestle Baby and took a few things into consideration:
- It allows us to finish eating dinner if not in peace, at least without multiple kids in our laps or poop jokes.
- It gives them a chance to exert that last burst of energy before going to bed. (So they sleep soundly until, you know, a few hours later when they start waking up and asking for the iPah).
- It gives them a chance to practice the martial arts training that they haven’t yet received.
- It gives them a chance to learn how to use their words (as in, “STOOOOP PUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLING MY HAAAAIR!” or “YOU’RE STEPPING ON MY PRIIIIIIIIIIVVVVVVAATES!”)
- It teaches them that sometimes life isn’t fair, like when they say, “No fair, you can’t bite!” yet they already have teeth marks in their arm.
- It teaches them that even though there’s a cushion down, it doesn’t mean the fall won’t hurt. (That must be some sort of metaphor for life or something, right?)
Once we took all of that into considering, we decided Wrestle Baby is OK by us!
(Side note: we have stressed over and over again that Wrestle Baby, of which aggressive behavior and jumping on furniture are HUGE components, is a game that is ONLY played at home and never at school, on playdates or at Grandma’s house. That said, we apologize in advance if Wrestle Baby ever affects any of our friends, family members, kids’ classmates, teachers or strangers on the street. The little one is still learning that tackling people on the sidewalk is NOT okay.)
So, in case you’re thinking about implementing this activity at home, you should know the rules. There is actually only one. And it goes like this:
KIDS: YOU PLAY WRESTLE BABY AT YOUR OWN RISK. PARENTS WILL NOT LISTEN TO ANY COMPLAINTS ABOUT INJURIES OR INJUSTICES PERPETUATED ON YOU BY YOUR SIBLING(S).** NO SYMPATHY WILL BE OFFERED, NO PUNISHMENTS DOLED OUT, REGARDLESS OF THE CRIME. GET YOUR OWN DAMN ICE PACK.
See how this is a win-win for everybody involved? (Except MAYBE the kid who’s bleeding… but that doesn’t happen more than once a week.)
And THAT, my friends, is what gets us through the BITCHING HOUR.
*Not to be confused with my friend, Siri. I asked her first, but she didn’t really help. She was all, “This might answer your question” and then sent me a link to the Anne Rice book, “The Witching Hour.” This is pretty impressive considering she’s a PHONE, but it wasn’t the definition of origin I was looking for.
**In the past six months, Wrestle Baby has become even more inclusive, in that it literally includes Wrestling the Baby. Surprisingly, G*** can hold his own pretty well. Maybe it’s because he weighs almost as much as the older ones. And uses his teeth. (See #5 above.)
***(A footnote to the footnote! Is that even a thing?) I’m still trying to come up with appropriate nicknames for my kids to use on this site. Suggestions welcome.