When my daughter, Ashton, was about 4, we would to go to a department store on a weeknight and embark on a game of pretend.
We would pick out frilly dresses, which are one notch above church dresses, and she would conduct a one-girl fashion show.
I was very broke at the time and trying on dresses at an otherwise empty department store was free. So was eating at certain buffet restaurants.
"We're not going to buy any of these dresses," I would emphatically say every time we did this.
Ashton would model the dresses for me.
"I'm a princess, Daddy," she said.
We would go over to the three-way mirror where she would admire her reflection. She would stand up on her toes and shift and look around at the pretty girl in the fancy dress.
It was fun for her, and looking back, it was fun for me.
Move ahead 13 years.
This week, my daughter is going to the prom. This isn't her first big dance, but she's a junior and there is something different about going to the prom when you're a high school junior.
Ashton doesn't have memories of the dress-up game when she was 4, but something must have stuck in her mind because she asked me to go with her to shop for a prom dress.
The prom dresses are a far cry from the frilly little things she tried on as a child. They are a tad more revealing.
No, they are a lot more revealing.
She tried on an orange dress that was nice - that is, if you're competing in the Miss Florida competition. I didn't say anything, but she liked it.
Later, she opted for a blue, beaded dress that hangs off of one shoulder. I don't think the orange one hung off of either shoulder. I'll certainly take one shoulder over no shoulders any day.
I was hoping to find something that they might wear at the prom at an Amish high school. One that comes halfway up the neck, has long sleeves and touches the floor, the same way I hope that both feet will throughout the evening.
First of all, they don't have proms at Amish high schools, because they don't believe in dancing. And Christopher, the guy who sold us this dress, doesn't carry anything like that ... unless you're the grandmother of the bride.
The dress is undergoing alterations and we will pick it up this week.
I haven't met her date yet, but I'm told he's a nice young man.
However, I offer this open communique to him:
You had better be nice to my little girl. She's the apple of my eye and I love her with all my heart. You need to open the door for her, and not just when she's wearing a fancy dress. If it gets a little chilly, you take that tux jacket off and wrap it around her shoulders, which will be exposed to the elements.
The strongest thing you need to think about drinking is a Coke and you better have her home a good five minutes before you said you would.
Mess up and you'll have me and her step-daddy to contend with. He owns a couple of guns, just so you'll know.
Have fun, and know you're carrying precious cargo.
She is, after all, a princess.
Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays.