Babies are amusing. They are also media hounds.
Fortunately for me, my son Owen (who turns 1 on Jan. 17) loves the camera. He smiles for pictures and actually seems to trump up his personality on video. Somewhat unintentionally, I found a way to use this to my advantage.
As a full participant in the Facebook generation, I found it uncomfortable how much effort went into staging just the right picture for each month, sitting him in the same spot every 30 days next to the same stuffed animal, dressed up in something cutesy. It got annoying. It’s kind of a mom-ish thing to do, but I really did want to keep my friends and family updated on his progress; it just wasn’t any fun doing so.
During his first month, my wife was using a flipcam (I know, so 2008 ) to record him while I held him, and I began speaking (my face is off camera) from his point of view. Naturally, I used a ridiculous deep voice and spoke in complete, self-aware sentences. It lasted 30 seconds, and we threw it up on Facebook, labeling it as Owen’s “1-month press conference.”
I tried the idea again a month later, and remarkably, Owen was interactive — smiling, making funny faces, squeaking, etc. I didn’t have a plan what I was going to say, just randomly talked about his appreciation of The Hunger Games movie and how he celebrated his recent baptism. I randomly threw in self-congratulatory remarks (“Also, I’m adorable”) to bridge the gaps while I scrambled in my brain for something else to say.
Gradually, I got more into it, and my friends and family loved them. I began planning out the idea for each month’s press conference, usually revolving around what was going on in his life that month (playoff baseball discourse in October, a family trip in June). I made some other videos celebrating things like the start of the baseball season and created a campaign video during the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election. He appointed an army of stuffed animals to his political team.
They weren’t exactly video masterpieces. Everything was done in one take, leaving in the goofs (in the 2-month presser, he incorrectly refers to St. Patrick’s Day as Thanksgiving. What a confused baby.) and not adding any measure of post-production. They were about 2 minutes each, and almost all of the video is spent just locked in on his face. But they were still fun, with some more off the cuff than others. My voice for him kept changing unintetionally — sounding deeper in some press conferences than others, occasionally sounding Eastern European (Duoofenschmirtz from Phineas and Ferb, perhaps) or a little on the feminine side. But whatever, no one cares.
Dadnabbit has been described as “Pinterest for Dudes Who Aren’t Into Crafts” (actually, that’s just how I will describe it the next time I talk to someone about it), and though I don’t have much to offer in the creative department, I saw this as a fun, Facebook-friendly alternative to the simple picture next to an “X Months” sign. It may not be for every dad or every baby, but if it works, I think it’s a way to chronicle the first year of growth in a humorous way.