Fatherhood is...

Fatherhood is being blown away by the little things.

This is an Excitement Feedback Loop (EFL). Here’s how it works. I cover my eyes, reveal them, and blow a puff of air in Charlotte’s face. She responds with a gleeful note of excitement, which, in turn, encourages me to do it again. The process is repeated until one or both of us pass out.

EFL’s are not exclusive to this type of interaction, though. For Charlotte and me, an EFL may be the result of any number of games like Upside-down Baby, Thigh Raspberries, or—my personal favorite—X-treme PeekaBOOM! (more on that later).

It should go without saying that any EFL should be entered into with considerable caution. Side effects include pronounced and debilitating lethargy post-loop; excessive salivation  (mostly the baby’s); and the invitation for strangers to stare at you. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychaiatry recommend that you not engage in any intensive EFL at Wal-Mart. (Or, what the hell, do! You’re definitely not going to be the weirdest person there.)

Unfortunately, EFL’s—like the one demonstrated in the video above—are only effective within a limited window. And the stakes will increase accordingly as the child develops a tolerance for this type of shtick. Don’t be surprised if instead of a puff of air in the face, it will take a trip to Disney World to elicit a similar response when she’s 7. 

It’s why I play this little game with Charlotte (and Greyson) several times a day. The EFL of a six-month-old doesn’t cost a thing. It’s completely priceless.

(See you at Disney World in 2019.)

Fatherhood is ignoring your critics.

When performers want to elevate themselves above their critics, they need only go on the record with one sentence: “I don’t read the reviews.” It’s a lie, but it’s a coping mechanism to deal with the fact they aren’t universally treasured.

One Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, I gave my son his first giggles. He gave me five stars, two thumbs up, and generated a good deal of buzz about me around the house. I was sure his twin sister would be equally enamored by my performance. She was not.

Here’s a list of people who have made Charlotte giggle: her mother, her grandmother, her aunt. Notably absent is her convivial father who’s been known to turn many a giggle box upside down with his irreverent and unfiltered, self-deprecating humor. 

I’ve got a couple of theories on this. Either A.) my daughter is an ardent sexist who finds men mostly intolerable, or B.) she has no taste. Now look, I’m not saying these three women aren’t entertaining in their own right…but c’mon…I’m her dad. I invented the “insert feet in mouth, get giggles" routine.

It’s as if Armond White and my daughter share the same contrariant soul—bitterly hating on all things wondrous and universally admired while venerating mediocrity. (Armond White is the infamous New York Press film critic who robbed Toy Story 3 of its 100% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes while giving thumbs up to films like Mr. 3000, Resident Evil: Afterlife, and Battle: Los Angeles.) It’d be fine, but I recently discovered that my four-month-old daughter is a published entertainment critic herself. Here’s an excerpt from her latest column:

It’s clear from the overstated smile Daddy flashes in our presence that he wants us to find him amusing. But it’s this same toothy grin that makes us find him mildly irritating. Perhaps if he spent more time making “NOMNOMNOM” sounds on our tummies instead of begging us for giggles like an out-of-work comedian, we’d find his routine a bit more droll. As it is now, he lacks the je ne sais quo we’ve grown to appreciate from more adept grownups like Mommy, Maw-Maw, and Aunt Kayla.

Whatever. I don’t read the reviews.