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It’s all in your wrist

Last week was “the” week for my clan, a stretch of days we planned for and talked about for months. The whole bunch of us crossed the Mighty Mississippi and flooded Delta to land at a decked-out VRBO on Greers Ferry Lake in the foothills of the Ozarks. We picked the right week. The weather and temps couldn’t have been better. 

Reviewing photos upon our return, my dad remarked that we appeared to have “boosted Arkansas’ economy.” I guess he’s right. Our fun meter registered pretty high on the rented pontoon boat and jet ski. Magic Springs Theme Park was a hit. The guys gave the rainbow trout fishing guide 5 stars.

But for me, the highlight was a little more laid back. It was, in fact, totally unplanned and cost free. We had a rock skipping contest.

It came about late Wednesday afternoon, just as the sun started dipping and rays started dancing on the water like a disco ball. Our property had this shady stretch of beach, and several of our crew had wandered down to enjoy the scenery (or to find out when I was starting dinner.) Two grands joined me on a giant float, waiting for a boat to go by and stir up some waves.

That’s when Son No. 1 picked up a rock and slung it with skill acquired back in the day. It skipped across the lake 1, 2, 3, 4 times before disappearing somewhere due north. It was just enough to start a chain reaction.

Two brothers and a brother-in-law, fresh from an hour-long hunt for a missing cue ball, joined him in looking along the water’s edge for perfect slinging specimens. Nearby, our 6-year-old granddarling was getting her first lesson in the sport.

“You’ll do all right,” her uncle told her. “You’re a good Frisbee thrower. It’s sort of like that. All in your wrist.”

“I think an elbow’s required, too,” his dad piped in.

Within minutes, event seating (a row of plastic Adirondack chairs) was at capacity. Babies got passed from lap to lap, and a 2-year-old napped longer than he was supposed to.

“Go wake him up,” his mom called over to her husband.   

“Can’t you see I’m in a rock-throwing tournament?” came the reply. “I’m living every little boy’s dream right now.”

It wasn’t long before the guys were asking us to score them on number of skips, distance of skips, and originality of skips. They started talking smack.    

“I am one with the water,” proclaimed Son No. 2, his rock skidding across the waves like a hockey puck on ice. His daughter agreed and began to provoke his competitors.

“You’re never going to win. My dad always wins.”

“You don’t call the shots here, Victoria.”

“It’s not over ’til it’s over.” (Which was kind of surprising, coming out of her sweet little mouth.)

In other words, it felt like the old days.

Meanwhile, I was enjoying the view from the float, trying to avoid becoming an excuse for one of their bad throws. One participant bemoaned a lack of water shoes. The Marine was worried about someone stepping on his fishing rod. And then that piece of driftwood showed up.

“We could make a nice piece of furniture out of this,” a young husband remarked to his wife.   

Since when does he think about making furniture?

Our son-in-law picked up a rock and examined it from all sides like a diamond. The others glanced over and acknowledged his find. “Now that’s a good rock,” they nodded, waiting to see how he scored.

At one point, a heady contestant called out across the lake. “If someone’s over there, you better stand back. I’m about to throw.”

The ladies, in contrast, were less confident. A brave blonde became the lone female entrant. She laid down her 4-month-old long enough to make an attempt that we all applauded. True to our nature, we then discussed how rocks hitting the water sound like wind chimes.

About that time Son No. 1 completed the best rock throw in his life. It was stunning. If a panel of Olympic judges had been present, he would have swept the board with 10s.

“How many skips was that?” he hollered out in glee.

“At least 11,” someone confirmed.

“Can you count to infinity?” he shouted back, making gestures like you’d see in an endzone. 

In a surprising move, Son No. 2 admitted his brother “killed it.” (That means he did really good.) It was the type of concession that concludes games and gives mothers hope. Maybe there is an end to sibling rivalry after all.


As I piled off the raft and headed to the kitchen, I overheard them.


“Sure, but you know I’m going to beat you.”

Kim Henderson is a freelance writer. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com. Follow her on twitter at @kimhenderson319.