Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Spelling Bee

The school-wide spelling bee was last Thursday and since Rachel was participating I figured we should go support her. Usually I go to things during the day because I'm the stay-at-home parent; Andrew has commitments all day, like writing and research and meetings and stuff. I have commitments, too, like diaper changing and nursing and child-wrangling but my commitments are a lot more mobile. 

Still, getting my commitments up and fed and clothed and out the door in time to drop the kids off at school (7:45 in the morning!) and then making my commitments behave (sit quietly!) through the entire spelling bee seemed like a huge burden. I mean, huuuuuuuge.

"You're going to help me get the kids ready to go before you leave, though, right?" I asked Andrew the night before.

"Yeah, I can do that." He paused to think. "Wait a minute. What if I go to the spelling bee?"

"Like, just you go to the spelling bee or, like, you go to the spelling be as well?"

"I'll just go. You stay home with Benjamin and Zoë and I'll go to the spelling bee to cheer Rachel on and then I'll go to work."

"That...makes sense," I said. "I can't really imagine Benjamin and Zoë sitting still through this sort of thing anyway."

So that's what we did. And it turns out that leaving the little ones at home was a wise choice because the teachers were flipping out about noise levels all the time, apparently (and I totally believe it because (and I don't know if it's just a southern thing but...) the kids aren't allowed to talk at school, like, ever; not during class, not during lunch, quiet, quiet, quiet—I guess their 15–20 minute recess lets them chat a bit, but I seriously don't remember being shushed so much when I was in elementary school (except, perhaps, at Alice M. Curtis in Calgary)). 

Rachel made it to the fourth round before getting nervous and misspelling vacation (which is a relatively easy word for her—you should have heard her spell the words we were practicing). She spelled it V-A-C-T-I-O-N.

She was a little embarrassed but at the same time she had little-to-no desire to go to the district-wide spelling bee either so she was also relieved when she was disqualified. I would tell you what words she spelled correctly those first few rounds but she hasn't yet told me.

She'd picked out her outfit the night before—her Katniss costume from Halloween, basically (to help her feel brave). I'm super proud of her for getting up in front of the entire school and spelling out loud. That is not an activity I would have enjoyed when I was in school (or now; it's not an activity I would enjoy now either).

I think it's so funny that so many activities—field day, for instance—are strictly non-competitive. Everyone's a winner! No scores shall be kept! Just get out there and have fun!

But spelling? Now, that's competitive.

There was a "winner" and everything (he's sitting on Rachel's left (to the right of her in the picture (the boy if you're directionally challenged))). Rachel's stomach has been in knots for weeks over this. Contestants left the stage in tears.

Part of me thinks this is good for children to experience because sometimes life is gut-wrenchingly awful, sometimes you really don't come out on top, and it's good to practice working through all those emotions. But, really...spelling? If we can keep score at spelling we can keep score at soccer.


  1. That is intense. I remember being invited to the district academic bowl aND refusing to go because I didn't want people looking at me. Go figure :)

  2. If you happen to be in the market for a musical to listen to with the kids, you may enjoy "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee". I would suggest a parental listen through first, or be prepared for some discussions you may or may not already be having, since it definitely has some adult language and humor.