It’s important to establish your limits before you pick a fight.
My max is 22. Sometimes it’s lower if they all have an object- anything they could potentially use as a weapon. This could be anything: hot wheels car, empty water bottle, my stolen pocket knife, whatever increases the danger.
At Orphanage Emmanuel in Honduras, the eight-year-old boys are able to find a weapon about 27% of the time, bringing the average acceptable number of fighters down to 16.
You also gotta think about what kind of footwear the kids are wearing. If they’re donning something cushiony like crocs then there is no additional danger from kicks. If, however, they are wearing cleats or boots for some reason, I would cut the acceptable number of fighting kids down to however many hands you have available. For me, that’s two. Fortunately, the kids I wrestle usually have softer footwear.
So I wrestle up to 16 kids at a time. Any more than that would be irresponsibly dangerous.
This is a huge part of what I do when I go to the orphanage in Honduras.
Don’t be fooled, this is important work I’m doing.
I read in some academic peer-reviewed scientific journal that the average human needs a minimum of 20 positive touches per day to feel healthy. These “positive touches” are any contact interactions: a hug, pat on the back, hand holding, high five, etc. And having been an eight year old boy, I know wrestling my dad was the best positive touch I could get. I’m not sure how, but it boosted my confidence. It let me know I was loved. It told me I was important enough for my dad’s focus.
It was during one of these living room wrestle matches I discovered it is never OK to kick another man in the crotch, not even to level the playing field. Sorry, Dad.
Because they’re boys, any time I participate in some high-action activity alongside them, I breach their rightfully-guarded social walls. Afterward, I can speak or teach any truth I want into their lives. They actually believe I love them. There is no need for them to decide whether or not it’s true; I’ve proved it. We’ve bonded.
So sometimes I do get to talk with a kid about something really important. Subjects include faith, schoolwork, eating all their beans, and pooping pants. Yeah, I’m the same in every language.
Most of the time, though, an awesome 20-minute wrestling match is everything they need.
Positive, loving touch keeps us healthy.
So go: hug and/beat up your loved ones with familiar and accepting personal space bubbles. Keep them healthy.