Dressing for the Dance

Daryl’s middle school has an end-of-year dance. A couple of days before the dance this year, he asked a girl at school to be his girlfriend. And then he asked her to the dance. The night before the dance, Daryl was rummaging through his clothing, looking for something to wear.

“Do you know where my Easter clothes are?” he asked me.

“I thought you hated your Easter clothes.”

“I do, but it’s a Hawaiian themed dance and we are supposed to wear Hawaiian shirts or bright colored clothes.”

His Easter clothes certainly would fit the bill. He didn’t want to go with me when I shopped for Easter clothing, telling me instead to “just pick something out for me. I don’t care.”

He cared once I got home. I had purchased a pair of bright turquoise blue shorts on clearance and a sorta-bright pastel yellow shirt. He was horrified! But now? Now he was looking for those hideous clothes. But they weren’t even the best choice he had.

“You should wear your Hawaiian shirt,” I said, pulling a dark blue and white flowered shirt out of his closet. A much more sartorially accomplished friend of Jane’s had handed it down to Daryl a couple of years earlier and Daryl had never worn it.

“I’m not wearing that.” He said it in his serious, no-nonsense voice, which I groaned at and then ignored.

“Seriously, Daryl, that shirt is perfect. It’s a Hawaiian dance and this is a Hawaiian shirt. It doesn’t get any better than that. Here, try it on.” I slipped it off the hanger and handed it to him.

He tried it on. I could tell it was right on the edge of being too small for him but he looked good and I said so. He headed to our bathroom to check it out and I followed. As soon as he could see himself in the mirror, he wrinkled up his nose in disgust and said, “No way!”

“Oh, come on!” I tried. But, no, the Hawaiian shirt would not be worn. He found his Easter clothes soon thereafter and tried to get me to iron them. I pointed out that the Hawaiian shirt didn’t need to be ironed. He pleaded. I told him I was exhausted (I was) and that he could iron them himself. He said he didn’t know how. I said it was a good time to learn. He didn’t iron them but also didn’t switch to the Hawaiian shirt.

The next day, on the drive home from work, I thought about the clothes that still needed to be ironed. Since I was in the car with the bluetooth connection to my phone, I called.

“Get the ironing board and iron out so we can iron those clothes as soon as I get home,” I said.

“Oh, I don’t need to. I took care of it.”

“Really?” I asked in shock. “You ironed your clothes?” He must really like this girl, I thought to myself.

“No,” he said, “I’m not wearing those.” And this is where it got really good. I mean, really, really good.

“I’m wearing the Hawaiian shirt.”

My eyes went as big as saucers.

“Sally wants to match and she’s wearing blue so I’m going to wear that.”

A belly laugh began to work its way up to my throat. I forcefully shoved it back down and in the most neutral voice I could muster, said, “That’s wonderful dear. I’m glad you worked it out. I love you.” At this point, I was in severe danger of making it obvious I was laughing at the situation. “Good-bye,” I said, reaching quickly for the little red “hang up” button on my console.

And then I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. Tears rolled down my face. Mom couldn’t have threatened or rewarded him enough to get him to walk among his peers in that shirt. But a pretty young girl just had to say she wanted to match.

The hilarity continued when I got home and a hyper thirteen year old boy showed me how he had shaved. He fixed his hair (again and then again). He brushed his teeth. He took the toothpaste with him to freshen up after dinner. He checked his hair in the car’s mirror. In short, he acted like a completely different boy than I had been living with all this time.

Swing Sets and Marriage

One of the best parts of being a preschool parent is without a doubt watching them play when they don’t know you are watching. This is a tricky thing to do, especially if you are trying to do it as you arrive to pick them up from the preschool. The reason it is tricky is that every single preschool child considers it their solemn duty to immediately notify their classmate when a parent arrives.

It’s like a crazy chain reaction. The first child notices you, perhaps even ignoring your finger to your lip and shake of your head, and yells, “H-A-A-A-A-L-L-L-L!!!!” The kids nearest turn to catch a glimpse of you before joining the chorus. Soon, the entire classroom or playground is ringing with your child’s name.

When the older two were young, I could sit in my car if they were on the playground and watch fairly safely from there. Before long, the informants began to recognize my car. I could try to hide near the glass inside the building and watch – but only if I could get in undetected, and even then, there wasn’t much to hide me.

At Hal’s school, however, I can easily get all the way to his classroom without being seen from the playground. The play toys are a safe distance from the classroom windows. I can watch him play to my heart’s content without fear of being caught.

And so today, I gazed out the window and found him at the swingset. He’s usually at the wooden train. He was standing up and brushing the wood chips from his body, apparently recovering from a fall. Had he launched himself from the swing? When he stood, I marveled again at how much taller he is than the other kids. He seriously looked out of place.

He soon rushed back to the swing and tried several times to hop into it. He and the little girl next to him were both trying to lay on their backs on the swings. Hal succeeded and pushed himself off. When the swing swung to the front and he was a good distance from the ground, he suddenly flipped his legs up and over his head, completing a flip that had him flying a bit from the momentum before smacking face down back into the wood chips.

I now knew what he had been doing just before I got there. I watched some more, curious. Both he and the little girl were flipping, typically without the swing moving. She was more graceful and controlled; he was more exuberant. After a few more minutes, I walked outside. The cries of his name began before both of my feet had touched the porch.

As we walked to the car, he said, “I know who’s going to marry me.”

“Oh, really? Who is it?”


“That little girl you were swinging with?”


“That’s sweet. Did you ask her to marry you or did she ask you?”

“I asked her.”

“And she said yes?”


“Why do you want to marry her?”

“She’s in Ms. Tony’s class.”

“You want to marry her because she’s in Ms. Tony’s class?”



“Because I want to be in Ms. Tony’s class!”

“Why do you want to be in Ms. Tony’s class?”

“Because they are bigger! Well… I’m actually bigger than they are but they are the big kid class.”

I suppose some grown-ups don’t have much better reasons to marry than that. Good thing he’s still under age.

Ella is Hot

Once upon a time there was a little boy who loved a little girl. He wanted to tell her that he loved her so one day during art time in Pre-K, he wrote her a card. He used pink construction paper, covered it in hearts, and bared his true feelings.

Here is a photocopy of that expression of puppy love:

It was very important to Daryl that Ella know:

1) He loved her
2) He thought she was “hot”
3) He considered her his girlfriend

This was all news to Ella. The teacher read it to her after thoughtfully copying it for me. Ella’s response was, “Well, I think Daryl might have a crush on me.”

I showed it to Daryl yesterday, three and a half years later. He doesn’t remember it. He doesn’t even remember Ella. Ahh, young love is so fickle.