Gallant loves roughhousing even more!
This is partly because early this month Smiley and I started taking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes twice per week. The dojo has a nice play area for siblings to use, and Gallant enjoys their toys--but he also spends a fair amount of time watching his father or brother wrestle. It is now his favorite activity at home.
So here is an updated list of our family's roughhousing games. When describing them I will use wording that implies only Gallant and I are playing together, but during the summer his older brother is usually also participating.
(I also recommend the Gracie Games.)
1. Circles Around Daddy
I kneel or sit in the middle of the sitting room. Gallant runs around me. I try to grab him. Sometimes we are the big bad wolf and a little pig/goat and I "eat" his side when I catch him. Other times I just tickle him.
2. Horseback Rides
An old standby. But usually this is short-lived and we progress to the next one...
3. Don't Fall Off the Horse
Gallant grabs my back and I try to make him fall off by slowly tilting to one side, leaning forward or back, or moving erratically. Sometimes I pretend I do not know where he is and am looking for him.
Smiley knows the advanced version from the Gracie Games, called Crazy Horse. It is basically the same thing, but by holding onto my back with one one arm over my shoulder and the other arm under the opposite shoulder (like a seat belt chest strap). I do not get choked, and legs are long enough to wrap around my waist much better, so I can do many more movements rolling around or standing up to try to make him fall off.
4. Jump off Daddy
I either lie flat on my stomach or kneel, and he jumps off my back onto the carpet.
5. Charge at Sitting Daddy
I sit and he runs at me. If he impacs me hard enough then I pretend he knocked me over: I rock backwards while hugging him to my chest, then rock forward and return him to a standing position.
6. Chest Bumps
This game was inspired by the Busy Penguins board book. I kneel with my torso upright, chest held forward, and knees apart. He runs at me with his chest held forward and we crash together. If he impacts me forcefully and accurately (without involving his arms, hands, or head) then I start to push with my chest, so he bounces off me and falls over (which is great fun).
7. Toss into the Air
While kneeling or standing I throw him up and catch him.
8. Hide Under Daddy
The first roughhousing game invented by both boys was when I kneel and they scoot underneath me. Smiley does not play it any more. Gallant sometimes still does.
(For most of Smiley's sixth through eighteenth months, this was a position he preferred even more than hugging for showing affection. I'm not quite sure why being snuggled underneath was so comforting to him. Gallant never had such extreme fondness for it.)
9. Strength Training Equipment
I use Gallant as a weight, or otherwise involve him in my strength training routine.
When I lie down on the floor on my back I can use him as the weight when I do a press, lifting him above my chest. I can also hold the gymnastics bridge position while he crawls under me (which he loves to do, because he is currently enamored with tunnels).
I can also do planks or side planks while Gallant hides under me, or crawls under me.
When I sit on the floor I can do crunches or side crunches while he sits back against my legs. I occasionally tickle him.
When I stand on the floor I can hold him while I do squats or calf raises.
When I sit on the weight bench I can use him as the weight when I do a front raise, lifting him in front of me.
When I lie on the weight bench I can use him as my weight for leg raises, holding his armpits with my ankles and lifting him as I put my knees to my stomach and then back down. (Gallant knows to keep his legs loose and not try to kneel or stand on the weight bench as he approaches it.)
When I lie face-down on the weight bench with my ankles under a loop, I can do back extensions while he sits or lies down on the ground in front of me: I kiss his toes as I lower my torso, and he giggles and then hides his feet for a few reps.
Overall, not a bad set of exercises before I need to get the dumbbells.
10. That's Not a Pillow!
Smiley and Gallant play this game slightly differently.
When Smiley plays it, I pretend that I am nearly asleep and looking for my pillow. We "set up" by having him lie down and be still, and I lie down with my head on him. Then he wiggles and tries to crawl away as (with eyes closed) as I mutter complaints about "this pillow is not very soft" or "this pillow is too hard and poky" or "is something making noises while I try to sleep?", and pull him back into place or pretend to fluff or squish him like refreshing a pillow. Eventually I open my eyes and act surprised that it is Smiley. I say "that's not a pillow!" and ask him when he came to my bed and where he put my pillow.
When Gallant plays the game, he gives me a pillow and I pretend to sleep. Then he approaches me and I pretend that while sleeping I mistake him for a blanket: I grab him, put him on top of me, and try to make him flat and still while he tries to escape. As before, the game ends when I open my eyes and say "that's not a blanket!" and ask him how long he was there.
11. Foot Rides
We do two kinds of foot rides. Sometimes Gallant stands on both my feet and we hold hands. Other times he sits on one foot and wraps his legs and arms around that leg.
Usually we just walk. Sometimes I pretend I do not realize he is there, and moan and complain about how my shoe(s) feel heavy.
We chase each other around the back yard. On days of bad weather we play chase crawling inside the house. (Both boys run too fast for running inside to be safe.)
Is chase really a kind of roughhousing? At least it often leads to roughhousing.
13. Hitting and Kicking
Like all toddlers, Gallant likes to hit and kick but is normally prohibited from doing so.
But if he asks me while we roughhouse then he is allowed to hit my arms or kick my legs. Of course, then I get to hit his arms or kick his legs.
I do so with moderate intensity: not hard enough to cause any pain or hurt but forceful enough that he gains some idea why hitting and kicking is considered "not nice" in most circumstances.