spellingbee_library

As a parent, you are forced to attend a multitude of school events where you whittle the away the hours watching band recitals, talent shows, and peering at student art all the while secretly wishing you were at home with the remote in hand.

Okay, so Mother of the Year I am not.

When my oldest daughter was in 6th grade, she came home to tell me she’d won a spot in her school’s first ever spelling bee. Spelling Bee? Now here was something I could take an interest in. I’ve always been a halfway decent speller, and I took pride in the fact that my girl was good enough to have qualified for the finals.

We practiced during the weeks leading up to the Bee, and when that Friday night arrived, we drove to the school hoping for the best. Hubby couldn’t make it, because it was hockey season and that night he had to drive the Zamboni for the Richmond Renegades. Hubby missed a lot of these school performances…

There were about 10 kids participating – I think they were the top 2 from the different 6th grade classes. A few kids got out right away. My girl was sailing through the words she was getting, which were all pretty easy. I can remember each time it was her turn sitting there holding my breath hoping that she would not get something like “xylophone” or “chrysanthemum.”

At one point, she got the word “marmalade” and I was a bit worried. She wasn’t a jelly fan. She spelled out M-A-R-M-A-L-A-D-E, which was promptly followed by the tinkle of a bell. I remember thinking, “hmmmm. Last time I looked that was how you spelled marmalade.”

Should I say something? Was I really going to have to be one of THOSE parents? The kind who interupts an entire spelling bee? Luckily one of the other judges caught the error, and I silently sent up a “thank you” to the spelling bee Gods.

The bee went on for a good amount of time, partially because they didn’t know what they were doing. Kids were allowed to start over again if they felt they messed up, which you can’t do in the real Scripps bee. One annoying girl would repeatedly ask all the typical time-buying questions, like “can I have the word’s origin?” and “can you use it in a sentence?”

I was secretly happy when she finally got the bell.

The bee got down to two kids, my girl and a boy who had to wear hearing aids. At this point, while I wanted my girl to win, I would’ve been happy with either kid taking the prize. They went back and forth, back and forth for quite a while. I have to say, as a parent, it was tough to watch. Each word was like a bullet your kid had to dodge.

In the end, my girl won.

We don’t remember the word she won with – isn’t that stupid? But I’m pretty sure the boy messed up on the word “obstetrician” because it took him almost 10 minutes to try and spell it.

She won a medal, which she still has hanging in her room. My girl really floored me that night. I remember calling hubby as soon as we got in the car. I was so sorry he had missed it. His little girl had come out on top, and he wasn’t there to see it.

She went on to compete against the winners from other grades, where she lost on the word “stewardess.” Not only is that a sexist word, but we don’t fly, so she was pretty much clueless as to what a stewardess was.

She made the finals in the 8th grade spelling bee as well. She got out on the word “rhinoceros” which I didn’t know how to spell either. Oh well – sometimes you get the bummer word.

While we were sad that she couldn’t win again, nobody can ever take away that 6th grade win of hers, where she stood on stage and faced a dictionary full of words, and came out on top.

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