Dadnastics

Even when I was the scrawniest, leanest version of myself, I was never flexible. I may have a hybrid dadbod/old-man/potato-sack thing going on, but becoming a father has given me magical powers to test my limits. Almost all of said limits were created by necessity, but some were for pure sport, spite or the pursuit of a challenge.

Here’s Exhibit A for the way my DNA mutated. The last time I played soccer was probably 18 years ago, but I apparently have pretty good dexterity with my feet.

We were staying overnight at my wife’s parents’ house, and they slipped an old disco book under the bedroom door for my wife to read to follow-up on a joke that night.

I was already holding the baby. I decided that I would keep it that way and still deliver the book to my wife. I told her to stay put as I wowed her with my acrobatic prowess.

At the time, I wasn’t really comfortable holding the baby with only one hand, so I had to do my best impression of an early primate to get the job done. In the true spirit of the moment, I decided to deliver it disco-style, dancing the whole way and humming a disco song.

I bounced across the room to the door and slipped the book in between my toes. Then, I hustled back to the bed.

I was never the best hacky sack player, so I knew my foot-throwing aim wasn’t very good. I can barely make an accurate throw from second base to first with my arm!

In order to get the book to my wife, I laid down and lifted my leg over the bed, then let go with my toes. At that point, I had a sufficiently confused, embarrassed and entertained wife, and the baby was safe in my arms the whole time!

There are also times that dadnastics are required to actually do something important. We found that Wumps are an exceptional tool in the upset child arsenal.

A Wump may sound like a fictional character from an illustrated book, but it is actually onomatopoeia for a relaxing exercise. (There’s your word of the day!)

To perform a Wump, I hold the baby tight to my chest, with the baby’s head on my neck.

There are two variations of the Wump, and they both involve a good leg exercise: there are squatting wumps and lunging wumps.

Sometimes, I’ll do squatting Wumps to stay in one place. If that doesn’t work, I will walk around our apartment lunging.

The up-and-down movement is great to settle the baby, and the icing on the cake gives the move its name. I say the word “wump” with each movement down.

If I remember correctly from something I read before the baby was born, babies like feeling the vibration of your vocal chords, because it reminds them of being inside their mother. Random motions also accomplish that. When you combine those two benefits in my brain, wumps are the solution that comes out.

Here’s today’s dad tip:

Babies are comforted by weird things, so just try random stuff to settle them down or make them laugh. If you wouldn’t dream of doing something in public because it would look peculiar, then it probably works to make your baby smile (or at least stop crying). Arbitrary movements, funny faces and strange voices can all be effective. It all depends on what your baby likes!

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