Thursday, January 13, 2011

Spelling Euphoria

Today was the Spelling Bee* at Caitlin's school. She had signed up to do it before Xmas break and studied a bit, on and off (Mostly off.) over break. Then, with two weeks left, I started asking her to study. Suddenly she decided she wasn't going to do it.

Cold feet.

At first, Eric was going to let her drop out, but I convinced him that this was a clear situation where giving in to fear was a bad idea and would set a bad precedent. If she really hated it, she didn't have to sign up again next year. But since she was already signed up, she needed to follow through.

I know. I'm a hardass, aren't I?

Well, Eric spent the last three days reviewing the word list with her, over and over again. I cheered from the sidelines between diaper changes, meltdowns and screaming fits (Logan's, mostly, not mine.) and stayed out of it.

Today was the big day.

There were about 33 kids all lined up in seats, ready for the Spell Down. We sat way in the back with the twins. Logan had to be removed immediately since he wouldn't be quiet and this was definitely a Quiet Required activity. Emma and I made it to the end of the first round before Emma had to pee.

Caitlin's first word: quarterback.

I left with Emma as the first round was applauded and took Logan from Eric. The three of us went to Caitlin's classroom to get out of the way and keep our noise to a minimum. Mostly.

At 10 am, people started filing into the classroom. The Bee was over and I'd missed it. I was crushed.

But wait...!

Turns out that there were 7 kids still standing, but they'd run out of time! Those remaining 7 would finish the Bee at 1:45 pm in this very classroom.

And Caitlin was one of the seven!


After some negotiation, it was determined that since I'd missed the 6 rounds that Eric got to watch, that I'd go back at 1:45. Alone.

Armed with my camera and a notepad I set off.

Seven children sat in chairs. Only one other parent was there and a whole lot of children. Caitlin's entire class and the other 4th and 5th grades were squeezed into that one classroom. After the first round ("Your word is 'lugubrious'.") was over only two children were left and Caitlin was one of them (Her word was 'hexagonal').

Holy cow! I was amazed.


Now was the moment we'd all been waiting for: the final round. In case you didn't know, the first child to get a word wrong puts them into the Death Spiral (If that's not what they call it officially, it IS what they should call it! I'm just doin' my part to sexy up the Bee.). The 2nd child has to spell 1st child's word correctly and spell a new word of their own. It went down something like this:

1st Child: spelled something correctly (I can't remember.)
Caitlin: Effervescent. CORRECT.
1st Child: spelled something correctly (I still can't remember.)
Caitlin: Quizzical. INCORRECT. She put an 'a' in there for the second 'i'.
1st Child: spelled something correctly and then whiffed her second, potentially winning, word.
Caitlin and 1st Child get Lackadaisical incorrect (So did I, for that matter.).

Caitlin: Incendiary. CORRECT. Whiffs potential winning word Malleable. So does 1st child, who then goes on to misspell Endocrine.

Caitlin: Endocrine. CORRECT.

Tension mounts.

Caitlin: Intermittent. CORRECT.

Holy shit! Caitlin just won her school's Spelling Bee!


She was immediately mobbed by her classmates, after congratulating her opponent and accepting congratulations graciously.

They carried her around in a little circle until she made them put her down so she could come and That teary-eyed, terribly proud mom with the stunned look on her face and the too heavy camera.

And that is the story of perseverance that I'm going to trot out every time the going looks scary or tough. For Caitlin, for the twins and for myself.

That's my girl.


* In her first Spelling Bee she made it through the first round and whiffed it on the word 'futon'. In her second Spelling Bee, last January, she made it to fourth place. I appear to have skipped writing about it. Whoops! So she's made significant jumps in her spelling, year over year. Yay, Caitlin!


Cousin Janet from New York said...

I am such a very proud cousin!!!!! I too pride myself on being an excellent speller & it upsets me that most of Caitlin's generation don't care at all about spelling & are unable to spell. I adore my little cousin anyway, & I am sooo proud of her! I wish I could take her out to celebrate right now!! Caitlin, you have ended a sad & difficult day for me with a fabulous happy ending!!!! Good for you, my smart little cousin!

Missy said...

That is so fantastic! Good job Caitlin and good job mom and dad for doing the right thing and insisiting on follow through! That is such an important life skill. Woo Hoo!

slow panic said...

Congratulations to Caitlin! I couldn't spell most of those words!

I might even trot that story out for my kids....

ellen said...

That is so awesome! She's a better speller than I am...

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Thanks everyone! She's very excited. Next step: studying for the district bee!

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