Friday, May 18, 2007

Spelling their way out of a paper bag

Today was the day of the big local Spelling Bee. I admit it: I always enjoyed Spelling Bees as a kid. Why? I was good at it. Good enough to get out of class once or twice at the end of the year and hey, that was good enough for me! Mix Spelling Bees and my cute kids and it sounds like a really grand day in my book.

My children are also natural spellers. I don't take any credit for this whatsoever--there is no special method that I've used in teaching them, no intricate set of instructions or lesson plans to pass on. People often ask me what I use to "teach" spelling, and I will freely admit that I have sufficiently mangled the concept behind "Spelling Power" enough that I can really only say I use it as a glorified word list.

Jo competed for the second year in a row. The field of 15 narrowed quite quickly, and before I knew it, she was one of only three spellers left on the stage. Last year, this was where Jo caught set of the table of medals waiting on the side. I literally saw her counting the number of people on stage, then looking back at the medals with a huge grin. She stood up on her next turn and completely bombed a word that hasn't given her pause since first grade. So much for the competitive spirit!

This year was a different story. Jo hung in there to the very end ... which was, I can tell you, a long time in coming! Jo and a fifth grade boy played spelling ping pong for 45 minutes (that was 76 rounds) before he was finally declared the winner. Whew!

Jo is completely satisfied with second place; last year's third place victory was the impetus for her to set a goal that she would beat that performance. And she did!

Atticus made his very first appearance in a Spelling Bee. Our beloved, sweet little man doesn not look kindly at the spotlight. He tends to be very shy and unassuming, and public performances are verboten in his book. Frankly, I was surprised when he wanted to compete. When he announced that he would be giving it a go, I reminded him of the process and spent the next month preparing him for how to handle the stress. (Stress is a very big factor in Atticus' life.)

I have to tell you, I was very impressed when Atticus took the stage. He squirmed a little, but stood when it was his turn and spelled loud and proud. He made eye contact with me once or twice. He even smiled. I was so proud--especially knowing how heavily his little heart must have been thumping. He went three rounds, and placed fourth ... just outside of the "winner" category.

Obviously, his bravery makes him more than a winner in my book!

We came home and celebrated with a lemonade and brownie tea party in Jo's room. Logan is well enough to participate, so a good time was had by all.

Did I mention that we didn't do any other school today? Oh, yes. I am still using Spelling Bees as an excuse to play hooky!

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