Dad Knows Fashion

Posted by Danny

I never took cotillion.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps my parents couldn’t afford it or maybe my mom thought I was already mannerly enough.  Or more likely, she felt like it was a hopeless cause.

My wife did come from a cotillion family.  She and her siblings all suffered through but I think it paid off.

DJ has completed cotillion, however, if you eat at the dinner table with us, you might find that difficult to believe.  Stephanie is enrolled this year.

I did learn something from the cotillion handbook.  If you are out with a woman and you come to a revolving door, the man should go through first if it is stopped in order to push it and getting it moving.  I assume most women don’t have the physical strength to push something as cumbersome as a door.  If the door is already in motion, the man should wait and allow the woman to go through before he enters.  I was intrigued by this knowledge and can’t wait to approach a revolving door with one of my  daughters to put this learning to use.

Last Friday was the cotillion ball at North Ridge Country Club.  You know what that means … the outfit.

When will Stephanie learn to listen to me?  I am a man with style.  I made the switch to bow ties 15 years ago before it was the trendy thing to do.  You may have seen my Allen Edmonds.  I keep my dress shirts in order according to their color.  Nothing excited Lisa or my daughters more than taking a pink shirt and putting it in the middle of the blues.  So – I’m a little type A (I’m not nutty about my shirts being in order, I just sort of like them color coordinated when possible).

I was determined not to purchase a new dress for the ball.  Thankfully, several mothers took pity on me and offered their daughters’ old dresses for Stephanie to choose from.  We narrowed it down to three.  Two were white.  One was not that bright white but a similar color – just more yellowish.  I guess that’s off white or cream. 

I pushed her toward the white dress because – 1) she had really white shoes and 2) she had really white gloves.  Made sense to me that she should wear the really white dress to match.  I’m not sure she believed me, but she did like that dress and decided to follow my lead.

Next we had to discuss shoes.  Early in the cotillion year, a boy stepped on Stephanie’s toe when she was wearing sandals.  It bled and she actually lost half of the toenail.  Ever since the Fox Trot injury, she has been petrified of dancing with these boys without steel toed boots protecting her petite digits.  I almost thought I was going to have to take her to a therapist to begin getting her ready for sorority formals in the future.

We already owned a pair of dress sandals.  They were fancy and complimented her really white dress quite nicely.  Stephanie went to Target on Thursday afternoon and conned her grandmother into buying her a pair of flat white shoes for proetection.   She’d asked me to buy these same shoes the week before but I told her I thought she needed something dressier.  Nothing wrong with the shoes but we already had a pair that were perfect for a classy event at the country club.

“Stephanie.  I don’t think those are fancy enough for your dress.”

“I don’t care.  I DON’T want another toe injury.  That hurt.”

Jesse jumped in to defend her, “I think they look fine.”

This coming from a guy who is considering giving all of hisshort sleeved shirts away and replacing them with 10 white v-neck tees to simplify his apparently complex life.

“Input not needed Jesse.”  I moved on.  “That’s fine.  Try them on.  Then go show DJ.”

The eyes rolled – not only does she look like Lisa, her mannerisms are falling nicely into place.

From the other room I heard, “DJ, what do you think of these shoes with this dress?”

“I think the sandals would look better with that dress.”

Yes!  Victory.

And what does she do?  She puts on the sandals and gives me no credit.

She's just beautiful!


To top off the outfit, she picked one of Lisa’s big pink scarves as a wrap.  I love it when the girls can wear a piece of Lisa’s jewelry or clothing.  It’s like they’re wearing a little piece of her. 

I’m sure lisa was smiling down on our adventure.  And I’m pretty sure she would have agreed with me on the shoe choice.

When The Cat Is Away….


The mice work on school projects and go to the mall. And need a lot more chauffeuring.

The division of parenting labor in the Tanner household is greatly misrepresented by this here blog (although Danny has been grumbling about how much more than me he’s been writing, so maybe the blog is representative). It is not a 50-50 deal. I wouldn’t even say 60-40. No, if you totaled up the time spent with kids, chores, driving etc. to calculate the total parenting time and then split it between us….I’d say it comes out closer to 80-20. Or 90-10. And then on weekends it goes to about 95-5…or sometimes 99-1.

But there is the occasional weekend when Danny is out of town, like he was this past weekend with Michelle. Here’s a recap of how I held it down with Stephanie and DJ:

Friday night Stephanie had a basketball game. I had to use a picture of her on the bench because I was using my phone’s low tech camera and all the action ones stunk. Sports are not the Tanner family forte (more posts to come on this for sure), but I think she genuinely enjoys team activities and you could tell she had friends on the team. And she got a rebound! She didn’t remember it, but the first shot of the game that went up bricked off the rim, hit the floor, and bounced into her hands. And that, my friends, is a rebound.

Stephanie also has become aware that she’s not wearing cool mesh basketball shorts (I think she payed in pink soffe shorts all last season) and wants to get a pair. I completely respect this, and even tried to find the smallest pair of mesh shorts I had to cinch on her for the game, but she said they were still too big. I need to remind Danny to pick up a pair of black mesh ones for her.

Afterwards we went out to dinner with friends who had a game on the other court at the same time. Bruce actually paid a babysitter to stay with the girls Friday night (because he didn’t want me to give up two weekend nights. as if I got plans.) and was peeved that I was late bringing them back because it meant he was paying the world’s best baby-sitter (she is. I have mentioned her before. we are not giving up her info because we want her as available as possible for when we call. sorry.) to just sit at his house. But you have to go out to dinner on a Friday night after a YMCA basketball game, right? I’m pretty sure it’s required. Besides, the world’s best baby-sitter was holding court with DJ and her friends when we got there. All joking aside, it reminded me how “non-female” Danny and I are (and I mean that in the most biological sense. we’re not macho by any means.). That despite the fact that he is a super-caring and attentive and a doting father, and I can be a decent listening ear at times, neither one of us can hold “girl talk”. Fortunately we have a rotating cast of characters who fall through the house to do some of that. We need to make sure we continue to.

You can knock her hoops game, but the girl can do some WORK. I smell a Sallie.

On Saturday morning DJ had to go sort potatoes for community service hours for a club she’s in, so Stephanie and I worked on her Helen Keller book report timeline project. I am not all that helpful with school projects and it’s not because I take a principled stance against parents who do their kids’ work for them, it’s because I’m lazy and easily bored (but sometimes I do hide behind my “fostering independence” justification).

I am, however, great at suggestions for projects (I’m like a golf caddy for life). I explained how the illustrations didn’t have to be literal interpretations, so for a picture of Helen Keller’s mother dying, we didn’t have to find a picture of Mrs. Keller’s actual coffin, we could merely cut out a picture of a graveyard from a magazine. And I helped make her a little chart to organize which points on the timeline go with which years, and which pictures, and which captions so we could then see what we still needed to collect.

She cut them all out perfectly in, like, 3 minutes. See? I AM fostering independence.

She asked for help in cutting out all the pictures, and I didn’t even have a good basketball game to say I needed to watch. But I was saved by the rubric: 4 points for neat cutting . “I really don’t think I should cut pictures if that’s part of what you’re getting graded on.” Whew, that was close.

I texted a friend that I was working on a Helen Keller biography project. The text I got back: “Are you going to throw in some Helen Keller jokes to show she’s still a cultural icon?” I didn’t have the heart to tell Stephanie that those horribly cruel jokes are the only thing I can recall about the poor woman.

Later that day Stephanie went with Nana (my mom) to get a haircut, and then I took her to a birthday party. She said this birthday party was for one of her BFFLs (best friends for life). There are a lot of things that are different about the way the Tanner girls have grown up and the way I did, but I realized a glaring one this weekend: as a child my closest friends were literally my closest friends (the latter geographically speaking). I could ride my bike, if not walk, to all of their houses in under five minutes. None of the girls’ closest friends live within a 30-minute driving round-trip of them. Score one for public schools, I guess.

The second half of Saturday had only two objectives: finding DJ a dress at the mall, and watching the N.C. State-UNC game. Unfortunately, these events coincided. My only hope in winning out in this conflict was if DJ couldn’t find anyone else to go to the mall with, because she had told me, “I’m not going to the mall with just you.” Well then.

I don’t know if she put out an emergency all call “stuck with UNCLE for mall trip! please help!” text or just got the first person she tried, but she quickly had someone. Darn. Off to the mall we went.

I dropped off and parked and assured them I would try not to be on the same floor, much less the same store, as them. But I got bored after looking at some basketball shoes, so I started cruising some of the stores I thought they were likely to be browsing to see if I could embarrass them. Therefore, at 2:10, the approximate tip time of the Pack-Heels game the, here was my view…

…of H&M. But they weren’t there. I tried J. Crew, too, but gave up when I didn’t see them there. We were supposed to meet up at the food court so I texted with DJ and eventually we did. Honestly? I didn’t mind not being in front of the TV at tip, and I kind of enjoy being the person that makes it possible for DJ to technically be at the mall without any parents. In today’s world of DVR, I’m a lot less up tight about seeing things live (and, really, it was just the State game).

DJ and Kimmy Gibbler entertained themselves when we got back while I watched the game on a slight delay (I was caught up by mid-second half). Side note: the scheme to convert all three girls into full-fledged Carolina fans is going swimmingly. Thank you, Sidney Lowe.

If you bought this dress to wear to Friday night's dance, TAKE IT BACK because DJ's wearing it.

Later DJ and I went to get some yogurt at this place called Freshberry, where you get as much frozen yogurt as you want and can pile on your own toppings. My favorite part about one-on-one time with DJ is how much she is like an adult. You can level with her, gossip with her, she fully understands sarcasm in humor, you don’t have to change the song because it has one bad word in it, we can make fun of Danny, etc.

Then she rode with me to pick up Stephanie and we tried to steal things out of Steph’s party favor bag. I can’t even remember the comment, but Stephanie said something that made me laugh out loud. It also made me realize how close she is to being an “almost adult” like DJ.

I tucked Stephanie in that night and tickled her a lot because I realized that as they become more fun to talk to like grown-ups, the sacrifice is you can’t pick them up as much. By contrast: I stuck my head in DJ’s room (she was doing homework because she had missed some days being sick. what a kid.) and asked her if she needed me to tuck her in. She said “nah”, she’d probably be asleep soon. I said “cool” and fell asleep on the couch watching Saturday Night Live.

Sunday was another busy day for Stephanie: early service and 11:00 church because her group was doing a moment for mission (but someone else gave her a ride down for the early service. THANKS!), then eat lunch and change for basketball practice, followed by another outfit change for cotillion. For lunch I made grilled cheeses with DJ on my back about how they weren’t the way Mae (Danny’s mom) makes them.

After I dropped at cotillion, Danny was back in town, so we resumed our 90/10 ratio. All in all, though, a solid weekend.

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