Getting schooled in the ways of little girls

As a father, it’s important to find teaching moments wherever I can.

For example, "Grease 2" is a classic example of allowing delusions of financial gain to cloud common sense, also known as the "What the Heck Were You Thinking?" paradigm.

However, this ill-fated sequel to an American classic — and my No. 1 movie guilty pleasure — does have some redeeming qualities.

The song "Reproduction" is an excellent source for sex education ("Where does the pollen go?") for those fathers who might be shy about discussing the birds and the bees. It uses humor, a catchy chorus and visual aids that are more silly than salacious.

It’s way better than learning from the magazines hidden under your step-brother’s bed.

Yet, I’m not always the one doing the teaching. There are many times when my 8-year-old daughter, Jellybean, provides me with particular insights into the world of girls.

For example, the reason why fathers need not bother to learn to French braid. "It’ll just never look right because you’re a boy and you really don’t know what you’re doing," she has said more than once. "But I still love you."

She always tosses that last bit in so as not to hurt my feelings.

I learned another such valuable lesson just last week.

Jellybean and I were about to walk out of the house on an errand to Best Buy when, in the midst of sharing her thoughts on what to wear to school the next day — a momentous decision given it was her first day back after Christmas break — she asked, "So should I wear a dress or a skirt?"

Full disclosure: I usually don’t pay a whole lot of attention to these fashion-based conversations. Jellybean just wants to talk her way through a decision, and since my favorite "outfit" consists of one of a dozen superhero T-shirts, camo cargo shorts and flip-flops, she doesn’t much care what I think anyway.

When Jellybean asked, "Should I wear a dress or a skirt?" without thinking I blurted out, "What’s the difference?"

I’ve gotten my fair share of "you’ve got to be kidding me, right?" looks from my precocious daughter, but the one she gave me then … It was the same look I’d get if I told a hipster that I hate Radiohead or have never seen "The Big Lebowski."

Seconds passed before Jellybean finally managed to ask, "WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?!" before taking my keys, putting them on the table, taking my hand as if I were a child she was leading across a busy street and escorting me back to her room.

"A skirt goes around your waist," she said, opening her closet, "and a dress goes over your whole body."

I wanted to defend myself, to say that I sort of knew the difference, that my question was more esoteric, but she was on a roll and it’s fun to watch her get all preachy. So I leaned against the doorjamb and listened to the sermon.

For a good five minutes, Jellybean pulled options from her closet. "Dress or skirt?" she’d ask. After I guessed correctly enough times that she believed her point had sunk in, I was allowed to go to Best Buy.

Climbing into the car, she paused and asked, "Do you know the difference between a purse and a pocketbook?"

"Uh …"

Brett Buckner is a freelance writer for The Anniston Star. Contact him at