Author Stoney Stamper Reveals Why Dressing Girls For School is Hard
Summertime means very different things to parents than it does to children, doesn’t it? For the children, it just means No School. But for the parents, it means the kids are going to be home all the time. And for us, that’s especially true, because we don’t have any family nearby, so they are home ALL THE TIME.
So, as our children see their three months of freedom coming to an end, we see nine months of freedom just beyond the horizon, waiting for us. Yes! Hallelujah!
When Emma was in the third grade, April and I hadn’t even been married a year. So having only been a dad to her two daughters since that time, there were certain things that continued to baffle me 130 daily, school or no school. I had to become accustomed to the daily comings and goings of the prepubescent female. And without a doubt, one of the most difficult and sometimes infuriating things I had ever had to do in my life was the simple act of getting girls ready for school and out the door. To say it was quite an educational experience is an understatement of epic proportions. It’s like calling a slice of crispy, fried, delicious bacon just a piece of meat. It’s much, much more than that. There have been many, many things I have learned.
One of those many things that have left me scratching my head, day in and day out, has been getting our daughter Emma dressed in a respectable and presentable manner, on my own. She is without a doubt the most flamboyant and eccentric individual I’ve ever known. No amount of sparkle is enough. She wants loud, flashy colors, sparkly shoes, rhinestone belts, bright red lipstick, shiny, gaudy jewelry, and as much pomp and circumstance as humanly possible. Nothing is too ostentatious. Nothing is too over the top. Admittedly, her spunky attitude and extravagant taste in clothing and accessories can be completely adorable. But if you are a new dad, just trying to get by, it can be unbelievably exasperating.
As April became more and more pregnant by the day with our youngest daughter, Gracee, and sleeping less and less, I tried to give her all the time to rest that I could. So I took on the responsibility of getting the girls up and dressed and then delivered them to school before I left for work every day. Waking them up? No problem. Getting them some breakfast? Easy. Getting Emma dressed in clothes that wouldn’t embarrass her mother to the point of not wanting to go out in public? Not quite so simple. If left to her own devices, Emma could easily go to school looking like Cyndi Lauper and Boy George had a secret love child and then hired George Clinton to be her stylist. It’s gonna be funky and cool. Trust me.
One sunny day in March, tragedy struck. Now, I had definitely let her get to school in some questionable outfits before. The occasional raised eyebrows from April when we got home were a telltale sign of disapproval. Generally, in the mornings, I was more concerned with getting them out the door and to the school before the bell rang. So she may have flown under the radar a few times in Moon Boots and a tutu. But on this day, I’ll admit, it’s possible I simply wasn’t paying attention. I was talking on the phone as she came out a minute or so after Abby and climbed into the back seat. Off to school we go. “Bye, girls! Have a great day!” I said. And then I headed to work.
Well, that morning, April began to have a few contractions, and I was afraid to get too far from home, so I worked from home that afternoon. Around three o’clock, April and I went to get the girls from school. First, we picked up Abby and then headed to the elementary school to get Emma. We pulled up, and as Emma walked up to the truck, my world began to change. She was wearing a yellow shirt. So far, so good, right? Red hair bow. Okay, probably not the best choice, but we’ll take it. There were sparkly pink-and-silver Toms on her feet. Yeah, it’s getting worse. However, on bottom, she was wearing a pair of old faded-yellow dollar-store pajama pants with green writing on them that were much too short, coming only just below her knees. But then there were black tights protruding beneath the pajama pants. The poor girl looked like a tiny hobo.
As her teacher walked her up to the car, April wheeled around on me like a mama bear: “What did you send her to school in?” I stumbled and stuttered for an answer, but I simply didn’t have one. “April, I swear I’ve never seen those pants in my life. That’s not what she was wearing when I dropped her off this morning!” As Emma got in the truck, April turned to the back seat. “Emma, what in the world are you wearing?” Emma rolled her eyes and said, “Well, Mom, I was bent over my desk signing my homework, and Mrs. Elliott came running up to me and said, ‘Emma, you can’t wear those pants because I can see through them.’ And then she sent me to the nurse’s station, and they told me I had to put these stupid pajama pants on because I was only wearing pantyhose! And these pants are the ones they give to the kids who pee their pants at school. But I’m pretty sure they’re clean.”
April spun back around. “You sent her to school in pantyhose?” My mouth opened and I tried to speak, but no words came out. In my defense, the sun hadn’t been all the way up yet, and I couldn’t see her all that well. And where the heck was my backup? Abby was supposed to watch me and make sure I didn’t do something stupid! She totally let me down.
Well, I learned an important lesson that day. Pantyhose, and only pantyhose by themselves, are extremely inappropriate attire for school. Or, really, for anything. At all. Anywhere. Well, now I know. Next time she tries that with me, I’ll be all over it. I’ll say, “No way, José. It ain’t happenin’.” Yeah, next time. Like a boss.
Excerpted from My First Rodeo: How Three Daughters, One Wife, and a Herd of Others Are Making Me a Better Dad. Copyright © 2019 by Stoney Stamper. Published by WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Stoney Stamper is the bestselling author of “My First Rodeo: How Three Daughters, One Wife, and a Herd of Others Are Making Me a Better Dad” (WaterBrook) and author of the popular parenting blog The Daddy Diaries. He and his wife, April, have three daughters and live in Oklahoma where they are heavily involved in agriculture and raise and show a variety of animals
This excerpt was featured in the June 16th edition of Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper newsletter. The Sunday Paper is the paper of record for individuals who want to be Architects of Change, lead meaningful lives and Move Humanity Forward. To get inspiring and informative content like this essay delivered to your inbox each Sunday morning for free, click here to subscribe.