I love to watch my children wrestle with their father, and I love to watch their father play with them. It’s as though the man I know and fell in love with emerges from within the tired shell that walks in the door, covered in fatigue and the dust of labor and life. Sometimes he’s too tired to do anything in response to their joyful greetings besides collapse into a chair and let them take of his boots. But often there is this moment, when they jump on him and say, “I want to wrestle with you daddy,” or start attacking him with their pretend swords, when it reminds me of that moment after a baby who is struggling takes it’s first breath and the grey is suddenly chased away and replaced by a healthy pink. It’s an instantaneous transition when life suddenly floods were nothing was before. I watch the life suddenly flood into the Genius Husband and just as suddenly his hand snakes out and fastens on an ankle and his hapless victim shrieks with glee as they struggle to get away while he tickles them. They can spend an hour there on the floor, the children attacking with boldness and he deflecting their attacks with ease and pinning them down, teaching them to figure out how to escape from the many holds he subjects them to.
The Boy and Girl often go to each other’s defense. When one is in a strangle hold the other will start beating upon their father yelling “let go of my brother/sister” in an ineffectual attempt to come to their aid. At some point it escalates and the kids will run and get their play swords and knives and come running to the attack. The girl has no idea how to use a sword; she thinks the act of holding one in front of her ought to be enough to conquer her enemy. She will point the sword at her opponent, put her other arm straight over her head, and declare, “I’m a princess.” When the boy pulls out his sword, the GH will retreat in mock terror to our bedroom, and grab one of his real knives or swords (He collects them and knows how to use them thanks to a lifetime of martial arts study.) and then I will see the kids in screaming laughter come running out of the bedroom as he, with a look of pretend fierceness on his face comes at them with a weapon raised threateningly. Then he will spend a while fencing with the boy and teaching him how to wield a knife. Eventually the fun will come to a close. Someone will be hurt, or the GH will get tired, or it will be time to eat, or time for bed.
I sit and grin and laugh my way through the entire event. For a moment I have my husband back without the constant tiredness and sadness, and my children have their father, and our house is filled with joy.