En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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-Playing Rough with the Boys!

Posted by Scott on August 7, 2007

Teddy Roosevelt & the Famous Rough Riders


Playing Rough With the Boys!


Have you ever known a boy or boys that like to play rough all the time?  You know you have.  I have 6 boys that love to play and work rough.  Wrestling with them from time to time on my bed or in the floor is always an exciting time for the boys and me.  Usually it will start with me tickling one of them and then as we get into a full blown wrestling match I end up with 4 more boys joining in, all against dad.  Our youngest is only 11 months old, so his day is coming.  How great it is to be able to play with my sons this way.  I was reading the other day from another dad from our historical past named Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt who had 4 boys himself.  He was like any other dad that loved to play with his boys and rough-house with them whenever he could, however, something that he discovered that I have had to put a stop to myself is wrestling right before bedtime.  Here is a letter he wrote to his oldest son, Teddy Jr., about the lessons in rough-housing before bedtime.

“Wrestle Before Dinner, Not Bed”

Oyster Bay, May 7, 1901


“Blessed Ted,

Recently I have gone in to play with Archie and Quentin after they have gone to bed, and they have grown to expect me, jumping up, very soft and warm in their tummies, expecting me to roll them over on the bed and tickle and “grabble” in them.  However, it has proved rather too exciting, and an edict has gone forth that hereafter I must play bear with them before supper, and give up the play when they have gone to bed….”


I wonder who gave out the “edict”?  We all know.

You know that we as dads must get in our play time with our boys whenever we can. Something to ponder is our view of our heavenly Father in the same light. Do we expect Him to spend time with us in the same way spiritually?  He desires to commune with us, show us His unconditional love in many ways, bless our lives in ways we could never imagine, go fishing with us, touch us, hug us and even some rough-housing along the way.  He created us to be this way from His heart. 

Psalm 23:1-6 (NAS)

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul;

He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the

Shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art

With me;

Thou dost prepare a table before me in the

Presence of my enemies; Thou hast anointed

my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the

house of the Lord forever.”


Now, this chapter seems to be over used in all situations, but it directs us to the personal way in which the Lord will transact with us throughout all of life.  The very first verse proclaims that He is my shepherd…this is personal.  He will lead me along the still waters. He restores my soul.  We see here an intimacy of the writer with a very intimate God.  God wants to be our “all in all”. David had written this song at a very low point in life.  What he discovered was a very personal, loving, merciful, and hands-on God that he could rest on.  This is the same for us today.  His desire is to know us as a father and son should.  With God it is an unfathomable relationship that we cannot know with anyone else, but Him.

If we desire for our boys to stay out of trouble then we need to get in there and spend time with our boys as much as we can and smile and laugh as much as possible while we do.  Yes, they will be a bit rough outside the home with others sometimes, but that is the cost of boys.  We as dads just need to gently coach them along the way to not be as rough to others as we are at home.  It creates numerous teaching opportunities with our boys.  If we expected our boys to just sit and never rough-house and always be in proper command of themselves 24 hours per day, never getting dirty while taking 3 baths per day, how dull and sterile they will be as men and those intimate opportunities may never come about while they are in our care.  Allow the boys to live life to the fullest in order to give way to the opportunities of learning.  Hovering over the boys never allowing anything happen to them at all is not a good way to raise boys.  Boys become men through the challenges, obstacles, blood, dirt, tears, sweat, smells, and pains of life…the younger they experience this lesson the better it will be for them as young men.  This is certainly not speaking of rebelling against their parents or even God, but is speaking of taking those calculated risk.  Let the rope out a little farther as they get older in order for their curiosity to develop.  David was rough and yet he found an intimate relationship with his heavenly Father through those rough-housing times.

Spend some time with your son(s) this evening or weekend just wrestling on the floor and tickling them if you do not already do this and see if that intimacy between you and the boy(s) becomes deeper as the days go by and help develop that well rounded young man.  I can think of no greater way to nurture a raving fan of our Lord than the time spent with our boy(s) as they observe how the love of the Father really is.  They are only young for such a short time.  Go ahead, get dirty with them, and get smelly with them, lead them beside the calm waters, walk with them through those rough valleys of life.  You will never regret it.

By Scott Bailey father of 10   (c)


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