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Our girls have a routine and checklist that they work through every night before bed. One of the things on the list is to get out the clothes that they are going to wear in the morning. It’s a good routine. The girls ask what the weather is going to be like and they plan accordingly. Sometimes they’re not sure about a particular match or color or something, but we’ve been at this long enough now that they pretty much take care of this themselves.

This morning there was a bit of a hitch. The third grader’s shorts were a bit, well, short. Nothing skimpy by any means–fine for bumming around the house or with friends, just not really appropriate for school. Lisa pointed this out to Emma on her way down the steps. Emma, however, was confused.


They both looked to me for validation. Luckily, this time I had an answer.

“Emma, put your hands down at your sides, palms against your legs.”

She did so.

“Are your fingertips past the leg of your shorts?” I asked.

“Um . . . yes.” They were by maybe half an inch.

“Then your shorts are too short. Go change ’em.” I explained that was the rule we had in the middle school, and if she would have worn those in 5th grade we would send her home to change.

“But . . .I’m in 3rd grade!”

“I know, but it’s the rule.”

This didn’t go over real well. She turned back upstairs. Anger, tears, confusion.

“It’s nothing bad, Emma, it’s just the rule!” I hollered up after her. I turned to my wife, “What is she crying about?”

“I’ll go talk to her.” And she followed her up the stairs.

When she came back down she had on a nice skirt. Just a little bit longer but, according to the rule, passable.

She was still a bit confused and upset so I thought I’d tell her a funny story about a girl we sent home just last week. Your typical All-American girl: smart and confident, tall and athletic, cute, blue eyes, blond hair, has lots of friends, gets good grades and wears her Christianity on her sleeve. This is the type of girl that, you know, is very used to not getting into trouble–or at least not getting caught. She’s a good kid, but make no mistake–she’s no angel.

As a general rule, I usually refrain from getting involved in clothing disputes related to girls and skin, and happily defer to one of the female staff members for this. Trust me it’s just easier this way.

Anyway, just before entering my class, the science teacher down the hall, sort of the matriarch around here, noticed this girls shorts might be a bit short. So she ran the test. They were–by about half an inch. Not much maybe, but still we enjoy “busting” the goody-goodies around here just as much (sometimes more) than the usual suspects. So we made her change.

And I had fun teasing her in class because, you know, like I said–she’s no angel.

“But Mr. Wondra!” she whined. “This is totally NOT FAIR. I HAVE FREAKISHLY LONG ARMS!!!”

I smiled, “Good one.”

“No, really, here.” She stood up and came toward me. Standing next to me, shoulder to shoulder, she raised her arm up. “Put up your arm,” she said.

I did, and she was right. I’d guess this girl is about 5 ft. 4 inches, or something like that. I’m about 6’2″. My fingers stretched out just past hers.

“Tough break.” I said. We still made her change her shorts.

“So, what do you think?” I asked Emma as we stood in the kitchen making sandwiches for lunch. “Do you have freakishly long arms?”

“I think I do.” She smiled.