Entertaining Them

big wrestle 2

There are morning birds and nighthawks. My wife is a morning bird, singing and busy at dawn. I come alive at night and flitter and busy myself after everyone else is asleep. Over the years, I have trained my youngest son Henry in the art of making pancakes on weekends so that I might sleep in a bit. Now, at age twelve, he is a master.

Our Saturday tradition is that Henry will make breakfast for himself and his older brother. At some point later in the morning, my two boys will give me the secret signal and sneak down to my basement master bedroom. I usually give them a few minutes lead and then Fee Fi Fo, down I come for our weekly Big Wrestle Time.

We have three games we play:

1. Alligator: two players are stranded on an island (king size bed) surrounded by a very hungry alligator patrolling the floor. The person playing the alligator must keep at least one knee on the ground at all times. (Alligators can’t jump) If the beast touches any part of your body, you are eaten and then become the new alligator. Since this is a game of survival, it is perfectly allowable to gently shove your fellow islander close to the edge of the island.

2. Rolling Pin: I am a rolling pin spinning with my arms crossed tight across my chest. I roll from one side of the bed to the other. I can’t stop. I roll over anything in my way, including young children who are not quick enough to jump over me. Sometimes I roll slowly, but sometimes my levers get stuck in high and I can’t slow down. Back and forth crushing young bones.

3. Mayhem: Pile all pillows up against the headboard for safety. Say “Go”, then everyone attack me. Good luck.

The ground rules for all our games are simple: The bed is base, I am the enemy, stop means stop,  and crying ends the game, so it is strongly discouraged.

John Dolan is a photographer based in New York.


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One Comment


  1. Posted by: Kristin Nilsen

    I love the universal concept of “base.”. Such a go-to in childhood but not something we think about after we turn 12 or so.

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