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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spelling Bee and Other Trials

Ems here:

Such a busy couple weeks! Firstly, Theo (age 10) was able to compete in the Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday, although he was technically the alternate--shout out to John Paul, the local winner (unable to compete because the Scripps bee requires participants to be in the 5th grade)!  We had a couple months to prepare for the Bee utilizing a list of words provided....14 pages of insanely challenging words from various countries.

It's so funny "studying" with a lazy smart kid. Basically we did 15 minutes of word study a day and then he would casually exit the room while I was distracted by, you know, a baby or a 2 year old or a phone call. Or I would remind him to look over the words only to find him 4 minutes later reading a book with the list strewn over the back of the couch.  However, with a few days to go till the Bee, he suddenly got a case of the What the Bleep Am I Doing internal freak-out: headaches, insomnia, random bouts of late-night word list review. It would have been hilarious if I weren't so concerned.

As my youngest sister, Bets, pointed out wisely, "It's all part of growing up." She's right. I remember being a ball of stress before (and during) piano recitals; I remember being on stage during the mandatory school plays and wanting to crawl into a hole; I remember trying out for All State Choir realizing MUCH too late that my voice was only so-so compared to the other talent out there.  I know that these experiences shape us, mold us, change us and ultimately help make us the people we are today. It doesn't make it any easier watching a child go through it.

Bri and I gave him daily pep talks of the variety:

"It will be fine! You've studied, you're smart, just do your best!"
"Well, if you were this worried, you should have been studying more all along!"
"Just relax and you will do alright."
"Try not to be the first one out, mmm'kay?"

When the big day came, we piled into the van and headed downstate 20 miles. The adventure was magnified by the fact that we decided to keep driving post-Bee and visit Bri's parents who live 4 hours from our house, in the same direction.  As such, our morning was full of laundry and packing and last minute word studying.

We walked into the large elementary school building and after signing in, Theo was immediately whisked away to join the other time for last minute advice or hugs--tear :(

After a long and very tedious hour of waiting, Theo and the other 48 children made their way across the stage. He looked so little! But I was so proud that when it was his turn to answer the first practice round question and give his name, grade, and (virtual) school, he did so very calmly and collectedly. No fainting or crying or whispering. I felt like he had already won some small battle.

Theo is the little one behind the microphone. In the front row, of course. I was PRAYING he wouldn't do something embarrassing. The worst was a case of excessive lounging due to obvious boredom. Homeschool kids aren't used to sitting still that long....I clearly need to lecture more.

Finally, the real Bee began:

Quesadilla! Contiguous! Transect! Sayonara! Infinitesimal! Lieutenant! Pennant! Mascot! Verboten! Maraca! Paddock! Incorruptible! Discipline!

The kids were dropping like flies. Theo made it till Round 3, put out by the word "Kabuki." Oh well. That's the luck of the draw in a spelling bee. The girl after him got "toucan" much to Theo's jealous dismay.

All in all, Theo placed 12th and received a $25 Visa gift card, as did all the participants.  Top 10 got trophies, and the winner is headed to the Big Bee in D.C.

When I asked him afterwards if he would shoot for the Regional Bee again, knowing all that was involved--the studying, the stress, etc.--he looked at me like I had two heads, "Of COURSE I will try to get here again! You get $25 bucks just for showing up!!"

So, all my fears allayed for the bargain price of $25 bucks. I will remember this.

Well, off to deal with the latest round of diarrhea and vomiting due to the LLSFERBM virus (Longest Lasting Stomach Flu Ever Recorded By Man).

Sayonara! Go eat a quesadilla and discipline your kids! And having an infinitesimal amount of sugar is surely not verboten, even during Lent. Perhaps you can catch some Kabuki theater on NetFlix.

Easy Rule #3867: The kids are alright. Breathe. Experience. And then protect them more till next time.

1 comment:

  1. Way to go Theo! He did his best, didn't have an embarrassing finish, and, like 99.9% of American kids, doesn't know what kabuki is, so it's all good. Great story!

    Although I let JP read this, and now that he knows you get $25, Theo is going to have some serious competition. :)