On October 6th, my son Charlie turned six months old. Here’s the latest update…
Even though we are first time parents, my wife and I have pretty much established our parenting roles. For instance, my wife is Charlie’s primary caregiver. She is also his secondary caregiver. I, on the other hand, am his caregiver of last resort. After family, friends, neighbors, strangers, local clergy, government agencies, boy scouts, girl scouts, vagrants and all other potential caregivers have been exhausted, only then am I called upon to change his diaper.
However, I do have an important role in his upbringing. I am Charlie’s primary fun-giver. I am the jester, the minstrel, the amusement park, and the Gravitron all rolled into one. In short, my parenting skills consist of a never-ending Improvisational Comedy Show. I will do virtually anything to get him to smile. Sometimes, I’ll even pretend to eat a poopy diaper, just to get a laugh. Really, I have no shame in this regard.
But as Charlie has matured, I’ve tried to change my act to become a little more sophisticated. Mercifully, instead of slapstick humor, or sight gags involving soiled diapers, I’ve come up with some new games that are a little more refined…
Here is a partial list of some of Charlie’s favorite routines…
Get to the Chopper: At six months old, Charlie can’t crawl yet, so I invented this game to hopefully inspire him to gain locomotion. Left on the living room carpet on his stomach, he is totally stationary. In this game, we are both commandos at war in the jungle. It goes something like this:
I start by shooting my imaginary machine gun from behind some cover… usually a couch or recliner. On my stomach, I slither over to where Charlie is laying. (This act alone causes huge laughs…)
Me: “Charlie, we’ve got to get out of here. We just called in an air strike; this whole jungle is about to be firebombed! There are still foot soldiers around, so we need to crawl on our bellies 300 yards to be airlifted out of here!”
Even though our lives are at stake, Charlie is laughing through all of this. At this point, I begin to crawl away to escape to the chopper. After traversing a few yards across our living room, I turn and notice Charlie, while smiling, isn’t following me.
Me: “Charlie, are you hit? Look, I’m not gonna leave a man behind to die in this jungle! You’ve got to CRAWL soldier! Let’s move!”
He’s wearing a big smile, and is kicking his feet wildly, but he’s not crawling. I wriggle back to his position.
Me (now using a Swartzenegger voice): “Come with me if you want to live. Let’s go!!! Now!!! Get to the Chopper!!!”
Since I can’t leave a comrade behind, I scoop him up and carry him out of the jungle to safety. My reward is a Congressional Medal of Honor and some big laughs.
Blue 42 (aka highchair football): Essentially, the game works like this: Charlie is positioned in his high chair in the kitchen. Unbeknownst to him, we are actually in the midst of a football game. I put my arm around his chair, we huddle up and I call the next play, sometimes diagramming it on the tray in front of him. With the play clock dwindling, I clap my hands loudly to signal the breaking of the huddle.
Then, I get down into a three-point stance, ready to hike an imaginary football. Charlie is lined up opposite me, smiling in anticipation. At this point, I go into a loud, protracted snap count:
Me: “Ready! Set! Crack down! Deep Rover! Blue 42! Blue 42! Hut One! Hut two! Hike!!!”
I use a loud, hard count, trying to tempt the opposition to jump offsides. Charlie laughs through all of this. I then snap the ball. Only now, I’m somehow on defense, and I proceed to rush into Charlie who has now switched to being the quarterback on the other team. I grab his feet, pretending to sack him, and naturally follow it up with a celebration of some kind. More laughs.
To recap, we both initially are on the same team as we discuss the play call in the huddle. Then, I’m on offense, and he’s on defense while I prepare to hike it. But once I snap the ball, we change sides again. Oh, and the entire game lasts this one play. I know, from a football standpoint, it makes absolutely no sense. Thankfully, my wife understands as much about football as Charlie does, so she doesn’t toss any penalty flags during any of this. But, Charlie loves it this way, so this is how highchair football is played.
Ventriloquist dummy game: Truthfully, this game is more for my amusement than Charlie’s. This is where I manipulate his chin and then offer poignant commentary, in a child-like voice for his mother to hear.
“Mommy, please stop neglecting Daddy’s needs.”
“Mommy, why are you so cranky all the time?”
“Mommy, it’s almost noon, do you plan on taking a shower today?”
And so on…
Feats of Disgusting Behavior: Just like his dad, deep down, Charlie has a very lowbrow sense of humor. A belch or farting noise will unfailingly get him to laugh. I’m pretty sure kicks to the groin would work too, but I haven’t wanted to demonstrate that to find out. That’s why I’m super pumped for “Jackass: Number Two.” I think it’s the perfect movie for us to enjoy as father and son.
As with all of these games, the effort involved is worth it for a smile or belly laugh. It’s all in a day’s work for the primary fun-giver.