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! Even 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 the 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.