Old School Southern Rules


If you ask my family, I have about 4 really outstanding days a year.  I’m not kidding.  Here is my post from earlier this month on Facebook:

Y’all. I have mothered so hard today. I made hot breakfast and explained the intricacies of SEC football to our French exchange student partially in French WITH A SLIDESHOW. I’ve shopped for fall dance dresses and held my tongue. I’ve given timely advice. I have danced to Rocky Top. I made pre-game dinner for my super-hot husband, my darling daughter, and her friend, and I held a cheerleading leadership meeting.  I made apple turnovers, I exercised the dog, I got dressed to the shoes with hair and makeup completely done, and I made the bed. Beat that.

And it’s true.  Most days I’m a checklist kind of mom.  I throw food at them; we do our nightly routine of homework, meal prep, bag packing, and bed time.  I ask them about their day and their tests and geometry because I am ALWAYS skeptical of geometry.  They say, “fine,” “they weren’t hard,” and  “Mom, I don’t even take geometry now, that was ninth grade.”  I start dinner, they start homework, and so it goes…

But today was not that day.  Today was the first day of fall break.

Anyway.  I did mother so hard today, and I have found that the hardest part of mothering teens is trying not to inject your own personal opinion into things that don’t really require your opinion.

If you ever have a chance to meet Coach, ask him to describe me in one word.  I can promise you that he will tell you I’m opinionated.

I have thoughts.  About lots of things.  I also think that my thoughts would really be the best thoughts for the rest of world.

I know.  It’s a flaw.

Except when it’s not.

And I feel like one of the times it’s not is when you take your 8th grade daughter to shop for a dress for the fall dance.

She and I don’t share the same taste in clothing.  That became clear when she was three and insisted on wearing yards of tulle and sequins.

So way back in 2003, before it became an issue, and while I was still not jaded by puberty, I decided that I was not going to argue with her about clothes.  As long as there wasn’t a decency issue, I was keeping my mouth shut.  If she wanted to parade around town looking like a cocktail waitress from Atlantic City, who was I to judge?  As long as cleavage, tail-ends, and thighs were all properly covered, I was just going to let it ride.

This one decision has taught me more about discipline and controlling my tongue than any other decision I’ve made.

But, I would also like to say that I did not buy her shoes.

Even with the shoes...darling.

Even with the shoes…darling.

She talked her grandmother into buying her shoes.  Her very high-heeled shoes.  I don’t love them.  They aren’t inappropriate, just mature.

So I simply reminded myself of a time in my own past where my mother apparently bit her tongue and let me learn the hard way.

It was  Thanksgiving of 1985 when I carefully chose cherry-red Sam & Libby ballet flats to wear with my stirrup pants and Outback Red fisherman’s sweater.  I was having a hard day because my dog had died the day before, and because my grandparents had transferred out-of-state for two years, and we were having Thanksgiving at a cafeteria in a strip mall.

Think Rockwellian.  Then think the opposite.

I held it together as well as any 14-year-old girl could do under the circumstances.


Until my grandmother took one look at my shoes and said, “The only people who wear read shoes are children and harlots.”

Now, had I been privy to the luxury of Google , I would have been immediately offended about the harlot part of that conversation, but since the only way to get reliable information in 1985 was my parents or World Book, I had to wait.

Anyway, let’s make a long story short; red shoes were frowned upon in our family.  White before Easter and after Labor Day was unpardonable, there was to be no cleavage EVER, and having a thigh gap was irrelevant because thighs were not for public viewing.

I’ll just say this…

Times have changed.  Today I shopped for a dress for the middle school dance.  I held my tongue so many times it’s bruised.  BRUISED.

We now have a dress that we are both pleased with.  Also, there is no cleavage, thigh gap, or innuendo that can emerge from the dress.  The shoes?

I don’t know.

I guess she’ll have to learn the hard way, just as all women do, that while boots are made for walking and dresses for dancing, heels are made for neither, and she’s going to wish she had some cherry-red flats before the night is over.


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