Clothes do not make the man. Or girl. Whatever.

My beautiful, sweet, bull-headed nine-year-old little girl has started dressing like a boy. I don’t know how this happened, but suddenly dresses and skirts and pretty, little hair bows have been replaced with high-top basketball shoes, sweatpants and old t-shirts from Vacation Bible Schools and Spring Breaks she never even attended (I have no idea where the “PCB Playa – Spring Break 2001” lime green tank top came from, but if I see it again, I am going to light it on fire and then put it back in her drawer).

Yesterday morning, a battle occurred in my living room. It’s OK, though, because Anna Beth appeared dressed for the occasion. At 6:37 AM, my baby girl walked into the room wearing camouflage pants, a black turtleneck and dirty, brown running shoes that looked like they’d been dragged behind the car for a month. After a double-take and an instinctive “what the crap?” I asked Anna to please go change into some girl clothes.

She went ballistic. Then I went ballistic…

“I like dressing this way!” she screamed.

“You’re dressed like G-I Joe!” I retorted.

“I don’t care. I’m not changing!” she cried.

“That’s fine! You’re grounded!” I yelled.

“I’m grounded, because you don’t like my clothes?!” She wailed.

“Those aren’t your clothes! We bought those pants in the BOYS section at Wal-Mart for a Halloween costume… YOU’RE WEARING A HALLOWEEN COSTUME!”

Anyway, we went back and forth and back and forth… the crying got worse and the yelling got louder. It was insane. I couldn’t believe she was this dedicated to her fatigues. I couldn’t believe I cared. But I did.

“Clothes don’t matter, Dad! Who cares if these are girl pants or boy pants? I like them, and I am NOT CHANGING!”

You know what? She was right. Clothes don’t matter. It’s what’s on the inside that counts. That’s why I took her to school wearing a dress:


I win.



  1. Now you tell me. I wish I would have figured that out when my kiddos (son) was 9 years old. Would’ve helped our relationship, and saved a lot of wasted energy.
    P.S.(You look pretty.)

  2. Billy –

    with a friend on the east coast posting thoughts (sad, reflective, despairing thoughts) on the state of the world in light of the Ft. Hood tragedy, this email was a much-needed reminder of the absurdity of parenting and the hilarity of life. Glad you had the gonads to wear a dress to her school (just hope they weren’t hanging out underneath).

    thanks for the humor.


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