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The girls were lounging in their pajamas so I instructed them to get dressed, brush their teeth and hair and we’d be off. We’d even stop for bagels on the way. (I know what you’re thinking: you want me to plan your next party.)

As I jotted out a grocery list, Gracie and Emily were busy in their rooms picking out their outfits (with little girls, this is huge). Finally they appeared, and I was, well … speechless.

The girls had elected to wear their glitziest dress-up princess clothes – complete with sequins and acres of tulle netting.

“Um … we’re just going to the grocery store, girls,” I tried. “Do you think those dresses might be just a little too fancy?”

Of course they replied, “Oh, YES, Mimi, you are absolutely right! Let us go back and change into appropriate clothes right NOW!”

And yeah, I totally made that up.

Now, this was a dilemma. While I would have no qualms taking the magnificently outfitted girls to our local stores here in South Valley, I was going to one of those “high end” supermarkets where you can buy amusing items such as rendered duck fat. Besides, it’s fun to explore. But I wasn’t sure if the fancy market was ready for my two princesses in all their glory.

As I pondered this sensitive clothing development, Gracie removed one of the half-dozen necklaces she was wearing. Hmmm … did she perhaps realize her attire was too over-the-top? Before I could fully develop that thought, Emily scooped up the necklace that her big sister had discarded and added it to her own collection of necklaces draped around her neck.

Now, you know the deal about kids, right? It’s perfectly all right to decide you don’t want to wear something and take it off. What’s not legit is when your kid sister picks it up and puts it on herself. I saw “that look” come over Gracie’s face, and I braced myself for a storm.

“Emily, people will laugh at you because you’re dressed silly,” advised Gracie knowingly. Huh? This was unexpected. Plus, one necklace prompted this reaction? Bear in mind, Girlfriend uttered this puzzling remark while wearing an off-the-shoulder pink sequin foo-foo dress, thick knee-high socks that appeared ice-hockey-worthy, tennis shoes and a hoodie.

Now that might be the old pot calling the kettle black. However, something in the long-unused portion of my brain was shouting, “pick your battles” and “teachable moment.”

Trying to remember what I might have said to this when I was raising my daughters, back in the era of writing on clay tablets, I pulled out my best line. “Gracie, if people laugh at Emily it doesn’t matter because we don’t know those people anyway, right?”

“Right …” Gracie responded suspiciously.

“But WE won’t laugh at Emily, will we Gracie?”

“No …” responded Gracie. She knew she was being sold a bill of goods here.

“That’s right, Gracie. We won’t laugh at Emily because we love her – and that’s all that matters, right?” I mean, I was totally making up stuff as I went along.

So we made it to the fancy store and Emily rode in one cart and Gracie pushed another cart. Because that’s the way we girls roll.

Turned out nobody laughed at my girls. Which is good because we “Mimis” get pretty testy if we’re provoked. And those teachable moments I mentioned? Sometimes I learn something, too.

Gale Hammond is a writer and freelance photographer who has lived in Morgan Hill 24 years. Reach her at .

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