Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bee Stings

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.


Heather L. said...

I LOVED spelling bees when I was a kid (1st and 2nd grade) although I'm not sure how I would do if I'd tried in the higher grades -- probably I would have had a hard time with "failing". This reminds me too of "sword drills" in Sunday School. I haven't heard of those in years.

Good job to your girls! I'm glad they put in their best effort and did all they could!

mindi said...

I'm glad your girls got to have a great spelling bee experience. I like your stories - you have a nice way with words :)

Monica said...

Hi Monica,
I just read your comment at my new blog. It was great to hear from you. I added your blog recently to my favorites after finding you at crystal's blog. I look forward to following you as well. So neat that we have so much in common!

Sniz said...

When I looked at your girls' faces (and all the kids including my daughter, except Matthew), I saw the extreme nervousness and my heart pounded for them and I felt my chest break out in nervous splotches under my shirt for them. I wanted to give them another chance so bad. You did a great job describing the weird/special way spelling bees make you feel and the unique pros/cons about them. I also still remember my fifth grade bee where I got out on the word "caste". I neglected to ask for a sentence and spelled it cast. I always, always think about it and remember that too!

Michelle said...

I remember Mrs. Eberly! Isn't it funny how quickly we can be taken back to a moment in time as we watch our children experience life! I love hearing you express your love for your children, Monica. I love hearing you point out your daughters' strengths in the midst of their learning experiences.