"Tuck, please pick out a clean shirt to wear to the birthday party."
"This shirt is fine."
"No, it has mud all over the back from the tumble down the hill next to the library."
"Okay, but I don't want to wear a church shirt."
"That's fair. Just pick a clean one. Remember, you're the only boy - you want to be a gentleman."
"There are two other boys - her dad and her brother."
I ruffle his hair. "But you're the only one who's not in her family. That's really a big deal, Tuck."
He keeps a straight face, but his lips show the telltale curl of a boy who's deeply honored by a sparkled invitation.
We review a final few pointers before I drop him off at the party: say please and thank you, compliment the birthday girl, and say something kind to her mom.
Have fun, little man.
Just before I pulled away, he came running back to the car. I rolled down the window and he leaned in.
"Hey, Mom, can I take my football?"
Sorry, dude. It's a girl's gig. If she tosses you a ball, that's a whole different game. But you can't walk in the door with a handheld Plan B.
p. s. Her mom told me he was a most perfect guest. Way to go, Tuck.