Saturday, January 19, 2013


This week introduced our family to the wondrous world of The Spelling Bee. I thought it would be fun (or at the least, interesting) to register the girls for this right of passage in the world of the elementary-school-aged-child.

So I did.

And then I thought, (approximately 5 seconds after hitting the send button on the registration form), that perhaps I may have gotten myself into more than I could handle. Maybe. What did I know about studying for a Spelling Bee?

The school sent us the lists from which we were supposed to study. 400 words for them to be "very familiar" with. (Oh my.) First through Fourth grade level words. Words that ranged from "red", "many", and "can" all the way to "wordiness", "receive", and "disassociate".

I loaded the words on the handy-dandy spelling practice site we favor, and let them go at it. 7 lists they worked through on a daily basis. 7 lists filled with words that they knew well, and those they'd never heard of.  For 4 weeks they practiced. We practiced. I double checked that they were completing their on-line practice. We spent hours in "mock" Spelling Bee run-throughs.

Say the word. Spell the word, (SLOWLY). Say the word.
Say the word. Spell the word, (SLOWLY). Say the word.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

As the big day drew near this past week, they were all spelled out, and I had grown weary of forcibly turning every moment into a Spelling Moment around our house. We were f-r-i-e-d. Collectively.

It was with absolutely no expectations that I entered the Bee that day. We signed in and took 3 seats in the front row. Me in the middle; the girls on either side. "Just have fun, sweetie," I encouraged them, answering their questions of worry with smiles.

"But mom, I think all these kids look like better spellers than me," Ashlyn fretted, snuggling deeper into the side-hug she'd burrowed into.

"I think everyone looks excited to be here, sweetie," I soothed, trying to calm. "I think you all look ready to go up there and have fun and spell some words." She nodded; unsure.

On my other side, Caedance looked equally daunted, but ready to go. Get it started. Get it over with.

The Bee got underway and I sent my littlest angels up to do their best. Whatever that would be. I was unsure how they would handle the pressure of being up there, in front of everyone. Unsure if they'd be able to spell the word they were given. Unsure if they'd be still. Be quiet. Stay in line. All the worries that come with first experiences of anything.

I just wanted them to have fun.

I didn't realize I was figuratively "holding my breadth" until the end of the fourth round. They were still in there. Not out yet. They were confident. Clear in their spelling. They were standing in line. They were still.

They were smiling.

I exhaled and smiled too. They were on their own and loving it.

Caedance eventually went out by beginning the word "Last" with an "A". She caught herself right away...more meaning that "A" to be like a filler..."umm". But rules are rules and she was out. Even when being announced as Out, she smiled as she made her way to me.

"Oops!" she laughed as she took her seat.
"Oops," I agreed as I snuggled her close. "Good job, sweetness. I am so proud of you."
"Even though I made a mistake?"
"Oh yes," I held her closer, "Even so."
We continued watching the Bee.

Ashlyn soldiered on up there. Round after round. Until there were just two spellers left; Ashlyn and another little girl. Word after word these two spelled; round after round; another and then another.

And then she misspoke the "W" in "wordiness" as more like "ubYOU" and was out. She spelled it right, but was out for that mispronunciation. She sighed and sat down. Slightly annoyed, but (I think) happy with herself.

She came in second place.
Not too shabby for a first time out, I think.

They each got ribbons for their accomplishments. And a My Little Pony from me.

They had worked hard. And did better than I could have hoped. And they had fun.

And they're already asking about when next year's Spelling Bee is. :)

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