Thursday, December 13, 2007
I remember my first spelling bee. Third grade. Mrs. Eberly. I misspelled the first word I was given- month. Instead I spelled moth. What can I say? I was nervous. I knew every other word in the whole bee and could have taken it. I've been devastated ever since. Every time I hear or read the word month I remember that day and how disappointed I was in myself.
Yesterday my three oldest girls participated in their first spelling bee. Miriam was in the "fun bee" where she was asked to spell 10 words that I had picked for her. She is a second grader this year and is moving right along in her school work. I am so pleased. Miriam has been in therapy the past 2 1/2 years for an auditory processing disorder. I never dreamed that she would be standing in front of a room full of people spelling these words at age seven. God has been faithful to hear our prayers for her and she has worked through many frustrations to get to where she is today. It was a full circle moment for me.
For Lydia, my artsy, kinesthetic girl, spelling is tolerable, but not yet enjoyable. She has made great strides in reading this year and really coming into her own. She loves to study and explore about the world around her. She learns well by patterns, so the English language with all its "exceptions" in spelling can be exasperating. But do you know what she did? She got herself dressed in her prettiest dress and did her very best. She did not complain, or whine, or drag her feet. That's invaluable to me.
Hannah has been studying diligently the lists of words for the bee. She is a girl who puts her mind to something and works for perfection. I love that about her. She is self motivated and driven to do her best. A little competition only makes it sweeter. When she misspelled her word I recognized that same devastation and was transported back to my third grade desk staring with a red face fighting back a flood of tears. It's hard to just get one chance at something that matters. But as her teacher and mom, I know the many words she has mastered in preparation for this and consider it a price well paid.
A spelling bee presents a different atmosphere than most activities for children (or parents). There is only one winner. There is no team. There is only one chance. You have to be perfect in that moment. No one can cry, "It's not fair", or "They don't like me". Few things in today's world are like this, especially for our children. Everyone gets a trophy for participating. Everyone gets equal playing time. Everyone gets to complain or change the rules. But on the other hand, everything is "relative". No one receives the full credit deserved. No one learns how to be humble or gracious in winning or loosing.
My girls cried and were sorely disappointed in how things turned out for them. It may be a hard lesson, but I was thankful today for the spelling bee. There were many lessons learned that extended beyond the words "where" , "understand", and "stood". Hopefully when the sting fades, they will be able to realize what a victory the spelling bee was for each of them.