Blue Ridge Mountains are Good Teachers – I Know; I was a Student

Reading time: 2 1/2 minutes —

You can learn a lot from a trip to the mountains. I learned you can’t use your cell phone and you can’t get an Internet connection.

And when you’re not cursed with those (in)conveniences, you learn a lot of other things.

A Long Way for a Card Game

Which is a roundabout way of saying one night on vacation we played a game called “Family Dinner,” a box of cards with questions created to stir conversation. It works! EvenIMG_5332 with teenagers. Of course, it helps to be somewhere in the world where phones and Internet don’t work. And friends aren’t within reach. So, yes, we drove a couple thousand miles to play Family Dinner, quit making a big deal about it.

There were fun questions like “What is your favorite family tradition?” (Thanksgiving, QuikTrip after church, 12 Days of Christmas); thoughtful questions like “What qualities do you look for in a friend?” (I meticulously described every piece of clothing Janet was wearing); and revealing questions like “Which of your relatives should get the Drama King or Drama Queen Award?” (Sorry, pinky-sworn to secrecy on those answers!).

And then there was this little number, which eldest son Gabe tried to return stealthily into the pile: “If you could give your parents one constructive tip on how to be a better parent, what would it be?” This was hard for Gabe because I had to point out multiple times the card said ONE CONSTRUCTIVE TIP. So the list he was making in his head had to be sorted and prioritized.

The quietest moment of the night.

He gave Janet her tip, something about “be less perfect” or “you can’t be cheerful 100% of IMG_5346the time, shoot for 95%” or some such. Then he came to me. We all knew he came to me, I was the only parent left. But he kept his eyes on his mom. And it was the quietest moment of the night. “Dad,” he said, drawing it out so the “a” lasted about twelve minutes okay, seconds. “Ummmmmmmm.” A smile. Does he say what’s truly in his head? Or does he spew out a safe answer? “Okay,” he says, swallowing, building up courage.

“It’s all,” he starts, “your delivery. If you could just give the same message, you wouldn’t be so scary if you lightened your delivery… yeah, that’s it. Your delivery.”

He was brave. He was bold. He was trusting. And I loved my son in that moment as much as I ever have. More than Thanksgiving. More than the 12 Days. More than when he makes that ridiculous liquid concoction at QuikTrip after church.

You’re a winner, Gabe the Lion-Hearted. No matter what your algebra teacher thinks. How’s that for delivery? I’m working on it. Changing my delivery will be tough. Loving you for your honesty? That’s easy.

8 thoughts on “Blue Ridge Mountains are Good Teachers – I Know; I was a Student

  1. What a special post this was. So, I assume by “Delivery” he means you get a little crazy? Boy. He should have lived here during my kids teen years. We laugh about it now – they tell me they “KNEW” my bark was worse than my bite. They are (were) right. I would yell my fool head off. Two minutes later, my son would act like nothing was wrong while I was still ticked off. He’d come bouncing downstairs and say, “Hey, what’s for dinner?” while all I could think was that my throat was still throbbing for the yell fest I’d just delivered about them “NOT DOING WHAT I ASKED, WHY CAN’T YOU BOTH SIMPLY DO AS YOUR TOLD AND THEN I WON’T HAVE TO STAND HERE AND YELL MY FOOL HEAD OFF???”

    I would give him the dirty look. Which…speaking of dirty looks, to this day he talks about “The look.” He says, “Mom…you had THIS LOOK.” He hated it. Don’t they all?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “A little crazy” might be a good way to explain it, Donna. I’ll go with that. Thanks for your note, it brings a little normalcy into my head. A rare event. I’m looking forward to the day when he starts to say in the past tense … “Dad, you had THIS SCARY DELIVERY.” If they don’t like it, why don’t they change, eh?!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Angie, glad you stopped by. (Anyone reading, you should visit her blog for some incredible art!) I wouldn’t be above putting together cards like that, but my family knows I’d stack the deck. These cards were purchased, although I don’t know where from. It’s literally called “Family Dinner.”

      Comes in a round container like a Pringles canister was walking down the street and somebody dropped a heavy safe out the window and it landed on the Pringles can. Good luck. It was terrific fun.


  2. That is an interesting and insightful blog. I wish that there were more places that the internet and cell phones did not work. Family time with our children (young adults) can be scarce but when the phones are off the conversation and entertainment is rewarding. At the Grand Canyon if you walked down far enough the service was poor so hiking, watching people on donkeys and seeing the views and talking about it was the highlight of our trip. Sounds as if the card game could benefit us all. Keep on blogging!


    1. Hey Phil,
      Thanks for swinging by. The Grand Canyon is on the list. And you are so right — we’d be better off with more places where phones didn’t operate. Alas, it’s up to us to make it so I guess. Leave the phone behind once in a while, we’ll all get used to it if we try.


  3. He’s got a delivery like a knuckleball pitcher — you’re never quite sure where it’s headed, but it always gets there eventually. And I’m usually standing there mystified.


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