A Good Fun Time—Creative Pillow Fight Wrestling

Published on April 26, 2020

by Ellen Galinsky

Forever Memories emerge during unexpected times, times that herald a change—where the “after” is not the same as the “before,” and times that challenge us to adapt.Most of us will have forever memories of COVID 19, similar to the kind of memories we have for events like 9/11 or when President Kennedy was shot. Given the stress everyone is under, it would be easy for us to lose sight of the kind of memories we want to create for our children and ourselves. That’s why I am sharing stories from families who are thinking intentionally about this. These stories can inspire us all.

Wrestling began a year before the pandemic when Ibi told Zai, his now seven-year-old, about what he liked to do when he was growing up:

When I was a kid, I used to wrestle with my cousins. It was a good fun time.

Always one for action, Zai wanted to try it so about once a month they would play-wrestle on the bed with all seven pillows on the bed involved.

During the pandemic, Zai—like city children everywhere—hasn’t been outside for seven weeks. There is no school recess with lots of running around. There is no going to the playground down the block with climbing, pick-up ball games and more running. There are no trips to see his grandparents and ride his bike for hours, up and down the steep hills. All gone.

Wrestling has become a life saver. It has evolved into Pillow Fight Wrestling and takes place two to three times a week. Ibi tells me how it works:

Zai heads over to our room. Wrestling happens on our bed. He gets ready by jumping up and down, moving, moving, moving.

Zai has created a couple of games within the game. One is Dodge the Pillows:

I get ready to hit him with a pillow. I say, “I am going to get you,” but right before I get him, he jumps over the to the other side of the bed.

So, I try again. I come down with the pillow and I miss him. By a centimeter! We do this, back and forth, back and forth. Every time I am going to get him with a pillow, I miss him. He escapes. Barely. But he escapes.

A second game Zai made up is Freeze Time, Ibi explains the rules:

Either one of us can call out “Freeze Time.” it doesn’t matter what you are doing at that moment. You are frozen. You might in the middle of picking up a pillow, but you are completely frozen.

There is another rule within Freeze Time:

The fun thing about Freeze Time is that the other person gets to arrange you anyway they want. A lot of times, Zai will call “Freeze Time” on me, and he will take my hand and put my thumb in my mouth or my finger on my nose or in my nose or bury me under the pillows.

Freeze Times ends by snapping your fingers. Ibi explains that the “goofy” part of ending Freeze Time is that you pretend you are confused:

When he snaps his fingers, I will say, “How did my finger get in my nose? Why am I buried in pillows?” It’s goofy.

A third game Zai made up within Pillow Fight Wrestling is Memory Wipe:

If either of us calls out “Memory Wipe,” the other person forgets why they are there and what they are doing. I will say, “Why am I on the bed? Why are you in the bed? What you doing with that pillow?”

If he tries a wrestling move on me. I will say, “What are you doing? I thought we were just hanging out.”

Zai has added another feature to Memory Wipe, where Ibi forgets how to wrestle. Memory Wipe ends when the one who called Memory Wipe says, “Memory Restore.”

Another game is Earthquake, when the bed shakes from so much jumping. And there is Mystic Armor.Here, if Ibi hits Zai with a pillow, it’s Ibi who is hurt because Zai is protected by Mystic Armor.

I’m sure by the time I finish writing this blog there will be more new games in Pillow Fight Wrestling.

Zai and Ibi play Pillow Fight Wrestling until they are tired, for about a half an hour. It is competitive, but not hurtful. It’s a way to play like you can play outside without being outside.

I asked Ibi what he thinks Zai will remember about this game:

I think he will remember that it’s less about the wrestling and more about creativity. He will remember it as playing, as getting a good jump-around. He will remember it as a good fun time.

Exercise is essential to health and well-being. Giving children opportunities to be creative when they exercise compounds the benefits of exercise. In a world where people can google for information, the skill of thinking creatively and outside the box are ever more prized.