When my sister and I were little kids we would start our weekend by pretending to be Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. We would charge into our parents’ room, climb into “the ring” (also known as our parents’ bed), and dive bomb our Dad. As we administered punches, kicks, and bites, our Dad would sleepily defend himself. It was never long before the Spohr home was transformed into a low-budget “WrestleMania.”

My Mom hated that we did this, and would nervously stand over the bed yelling, “Go easy, Tony! Don’t hurt them! They’re just kids!”

“Just kids?” my Dad would holler as a tiny foot smacked him in the neck. “They’re killing me!”

Thirty years later – and after surviving feverish battles with my nephews, Spencer and Danny, as well as our friend Tara’s kids, Reilly and George – I realize my Dad wasn’t kidding. If there was anyone my Mom should have warned to go easy, it was me and my sister. We could have killed our old man. Seriously. Dads are at major risk during these battles.

attacking the giant

Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Pfft. Why would a couple little kids need to go easy when roughhousing with a grown man?”  Well, consider the following facts about these “friendly” battles:

– Dads are rarely in the best shape of their lives, and often get winded in just a few minutes.

– Kids are like inexhaustible little zombies who keep coming after you no matter how many times you thwart their attack. They’re also usually hopped up on sugar, which makes them as unpredictable as a meth addict or rabid dog.

– Dads are prone to throw out their back, pull a muscle, or otherwise seriously injure themselves.

– Kids are like miniature versions of Mr. Fantastic from the “Fantastic Four,” and boast bodies seemingly impervious to injury.

– Dads, realizing they are stronger than the kids, hold back their full strength.

– Kids attack without impunity, hitting and kicking with every last ounce of strength their little limbs can possibly muster.

– Dads fight fair, and maintain a level of dignity similar to a Medieval Knight or at least Bruce Willis in “Die Hard.”

– Kids mix it up like Dublin street fighters,  and are willing to double team you, pull your hair, or smack you with any toy within reach. (Note to Dads: re-think that gift of a baseball bat.)

– Dads can be laid down for the count with one inopportune attack to the family jewels.

– Kids have no understanding that they are to avoid “that” spot, and thus are a great risk to land a karate chop with such force that they will ruin all chance of ever having another sibling.

So let this be a public service announcement to you, Moms. Next time your sweet, little kids go after big ‘ol Dad, cut the old man some slack. He’s gonna need it.