How Wrestling Alligators Can Make You A Better Parent

Mike with Gator Head

 
About 8 years ago a friend of mine walked into our MMA class with scrapes all over his legs.

“What happened?”
“I wrestled alligators this weekend.”
“No way.”
“Yes way.”

Wait, anyone can just go wrestle alligators? Ok, I’m interested.

8 years later …

My youngest son is 6. He’s also afraid to ride his bike. His two younger sisters can ride their bikes, but for some reason he is too afraid to ride.

I can either

  1. Tell/push him to have courage, to be brave.
  2. Show him what it means to have courage, to be brave.

I chose #2, and chose alligator wrestling to do that.
Yeah, maybe it was being a bit stupid, but for this point let’s go with brave. 🙂

I Almost Quit 10 Minutes In

When you start alligator wrestling they put you in this smaller pool with 3-4 footers, and a variety of snapping turles.

“Don’t step right there … snapping turtle right under your foot.”
First words from the trainer.

“What did I get myself into???”

Based on the pictures below you can see that you have to corner these gators a bit and then GO ALL IN and grab their necks. “If you hesitate you will get bit.” “Ok …”

I remember looking at my father-in-law who was there and saying “This was a dumb idea, I’m just gonna watch.”

Then I looked over at my two boys. They had this “You can do it, Dad” look on their faces.

How am I gonna tell my son to be brave and ride his bike when I’m chickening out. So, grabbing gators we went.

The Bigger Gator Pit

Once we made it through the 3-4 footers it was then time to head to the 6-8 footers. “This is where people get hurt.” … “Great!”

This is a video of the guy who went before me. My confidence was already pretty low, then this happened.

How to Wrestle an Alligator

  1. Find the gator.
  2. Sneak up behind and grab the far end of the tail.
  3. Drag through water and mid.
  4. Tug tail back while jumping on the alligator’s back grabbing his neck.
  5. Sit down on gator.

Simple, right? Well, it’s hard to do when fear paralyzes your body. Here’s my wrestling.

If you watch the video you’ll hear me say “I can’t do this.” I then heard my son say “You can do it, Dad!” That was enough for me to get the courage to jump on this gator.

I Moved Up a Few Pegs With My Boys

It’s been three weeks since the wrestling. Even today my son told me he showed his whole class the video of the gator wrestling. I’m gonna ride this wave as long as I can.


So … what adventures, what acts of bravery are you doing in your life to show your kids that you “still got it”?

It could be:

  • Running a 5k
  • Climbing a mountain
  • Going back to school
  • Putting down your device and being present at home

My advice is to pick something, do something, commit to something. Bring your kids into the adventure. And then leverage that to help them get past their own mountain. Whether that’s riding a bike, or riding a gator.

About the Author:

Mike loves his family and he loves his gadgets. This site is his journey exploring the intersection of parenting and tech. By day you'll find him on the trails of Colorado. Moutain biking, hiking, fishing.