An Update On The Drama That Is the Spelling Bee

Remember when you brought your first baby home from the hospital, and you sat by his crib and watched his chest rise and fall?  And you seriously felt like you were communicating with him on a psychic level:  "Breathe, baby.  In…out…in…out…in…out…"  You knew if you stopped willing your child to breathe he probably would, in fact, stop breathing.

I was engaging the same logic at the spelling bee this morning; I had my Mommy Psychic Gears turned up to full power.  When my boy stepped to the microphone, I spelled the word SO LOUDLY in my head that I knew he could hear, because he loves me so much and oh, our hearts, how they beat as one.

He sailed through the first round.  Then he stepped up to the mike for the second round.  I was ready for it.  He was ready.

The judge read, "Staccato."

[Insert screeching sound].  Staccato?

How on earth do you spell staccato?  Two c‘s?  Two t‘s?

I gulped.  Adam gulped.  Neither of us knew.  And he missed.  But I totally blame myself.  No fourth grader should know the word staccato, but a 35-year-old momma?  It is completely reasonable to expect that I should know how to spell it and be able to clairvoyantly implant that spelling into my child’s brain. 

Ah, well.  You can’t win’ em all.

(By the way, Adam isn’t disappointed at all.  He’s just glad it’s over, and he’s glad that he has an excuse to stop studying those hard words.)

(And also by the way, may I just tell you much I loved to learn that so many of you have your own spelling bee trauma?  Aren’t we just the brainy little bunch?)

39 thoughts on “An Update On The Drama That Is the Spelling Bee

  1. pam says:

    So glad I checked back in to see the results. Good job, Adam! Getting on the stage and speaking into the microphone is a major accomplishment in itself.
    Now y’all have another word added to your vocabulary that you’ll never miss again. Isn’t God cool how He helps us out like that?

  2. Brittani's Holding Little Hands says:

    Whoever invented the concept of the Spelling Bee clearly was a vicious, bitter person, looking for a way to torture small children and their parents.
    I feel your pain, Adam.
    Maraud was my arch nemesis. I made it to the finals before getting that word,so I’m thinking getting “staccatto” in the 2nd round was a cheap shot, even for Mr. Spelling Bee.
    Strangely enough, I married a man whose high school mascot was a Marauder. Where was hubs in my time of need? If only I had known him in 1st grade, you’d be looking at a Spelling Bee Champion:)

  3. Melissa says:

    Good job, Adam! I sure can’t spell staccato. Now “heinous”, I’ll never forget…my own spelling bee anxiety attack!

  4. Marie says:

    When I was in 5th grade I represented my school at the disctrict level, only to come in 7th when I misspelled stalactite. Will never happen again, I assure you.

  5. Melissa says:

    Ack! Do they save the hardest words for these Bee’s or what!! I’m glad Adam wasn’t crushed. I’ll bet he’ll know how to spell staccato from here on out though….

  6. Lysa TerKeurst says:

    Oh honie- I can ashure you that peple styll suckseed who caint spel a lick!
    That’s why a really smart person invented spell check.
    Smiling while writing my 12th book having never even qualified for the spelling bee!

  7. Stretch Mark Mama says:

    Oh, I am shouting out spelling words in my head with you. There must be an end to this turmoil!
    It’s like sitting next to your child while he learns to read, shouting out the correct words in your head while you wait…wait…waaaaaiiiiittttt for his mouth to speak! Oh, the paaaaiiiinnnn!!!

  8. Stephanie says:

    My 4th graders had their grade-level bee yesterday. One twin was out in the early rounds and couldn’t care less. The other made it to 6th place. He missed “astronaut” and was still mad at himself when he went to bed last night. But staccato?? I would have totally missed that one, too. No fair making that a 4th grade word.

  9. Not Afraid To Use It says:

    Oh man. Your perspective on the breathing thing so hit home. When my kids were infants and congested, I would subconsciously start breathing at the same pace. Somehow thinking that I could help them somehow. Dead on post. And I’m sorry about the spelling bee.

  10. GranMarty says:

    I grew up as an Army brat and I’ve always been a pretty good speller. Not fabulous, unless there wasn’t a lot of competition, but pretty good. And there wasn’t a lot of that when I was in the 7th grade and living in a fairly small town in Germany. I won the school spelling bee, which meant I was going to the regional bee. (This was an American school, so it WAS in english English, I should probably say.) Our school took a BUS to the competition where I blanked on the FIRST word: buffalo. Oh the shame!
    When I was in high school, there was a far worse torture called “Vocabee,” which was spelling AND vocabulary! and Miss White was determined that I was the one to take my school to victory. So, I had to recite a new list to her once a week before school. Thankfully, my dad was transferred, and I escaped only a month or two before the competition. Moving around a lot isn’t always so bad.

  11. Jean Stockdale says:

    Boy I am glad that is over for you! Only a mom knows how hard sitting in the grandstands of a child’s life, urging them on,can be. Sounds like your son has a great self-image and a good handle on things! Good job, mom.

  12. Kelly says:

    Staccato?? Seriously?? I would venture to guess that the judge has no idea what the meaning of staccato is. I know I don’t. I am glad he made it through the first round. What was his first word? I love spelling and am an excellent speller, but I don’t think I would have gotten that word correct. I do believe that this is the first time I have ever heard of the word.

  13. edj says:

    They don’t have spelling bees in the French system. But I will say that I doubt any of my 3 (all older than Adam) could spell ANY of those words! Good for Adam. And good for you too, Shan. You did great! 😉

  14. Striving\Tessa says:

    I can totally sympathize. Good job. It is not easy task. My 4th grader faces the “regional” and then maybe school wide if she places in the top 3, this Friday. We have been practicing often too. last year she did a kdg. – 3rd just for fun and got in the top 3 and we are hoping that she can do that this year too. Pray for her. She is excited. Thanks, and Good job again.

  15. Shelley says:

    The word I missed on was architect. I left out the h. It was fifth grade, and I came in third in the school. I don’t remember who won, but I damn sure still know how to spell architect.

  16. Betsy says:

    I have a 3rd grader, and this is our first year. When she looked at the list of words, she nearly cried. Seriously, it’s the same list of words for 3rd-6th graders! I already am nervous for her – she is so nervous that she doesn’t want to do it!

  17. Eva says:

    You know, with my eldest starting school next month, I finding myself thanking God that we have never embraced the Spelling Bee here in Australia!

  18. says:

    That’s the thing with spelling bees – it is such a game of chance. I mean studying helps, but ultimately you may still get a word that is impossible.

  19. Amanda says:

    I had my own spelling bee trauma as well. I will never forget it. I was in 3rd grade and it was down to the final and one of the teacher’s daughters. I stepped up to the mic and they asked me to spell adequate. I had never heard that word and thought they must have meant etiquette. So I perfectly spelled etiquette only to find out that wasn’t the right word. Guess I wasn’t an adequate enough speller, but I won’t ever forget how to spell it, that’s for sure

  20. Michele says:

    I will turn 33 this year. I still have my 2nd grade spelling bee trophy. I can’t seem to toss it. By the way, it’s a wooden bear with my name on it. With a hole in the paw. Balloons were tied to it.
    My kill word? Rhythm.

  21. Lady Why says:

    I have a funny ‘staccato spelling’ story! My six year old – who is just now wrapping her brain around spelling, reading, and making sense of the two – was at her piano lesson recently. Our piano teacher is from Russia and one of the most difficult things she faces is spelling our pesky little English words. She really struggles with it. So, in writing ‘staccato’ on my daughter’s piano homework, she turned and asked my daughter how to spell it. I froze because I KNEW that my six year old (the one that asked me how to spell ‘hop’ on the way to piano that morning) would not be able to spell it. She thought for a moment and rattled off in perfect spelling bee form, “Staccato. S-T-A-C-C-A-T-O. Staccato.”
    A tear came to my eye and I nearly rose to my feet in applause! It turns out that my six year old had to write that word several times in her piano homework the previous week and somehow it ‘stuck’ in that brain of hers. A proud mommy moment to be sure!

  22. Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years says:

    As Lady Why suggests, one must put their eyes on a word to have any hope of spelling it.
    The real lesson in this is that it’s not too late to get Adam involved in the life-long gift that *music* could be to him! (And to his future wife, children, congregation or anyone with whome he’s willing to share it.) Blessings…

  23. Gego says:

    You accomplished sooooooo much by participating in the Spelling Bee. Gego would NEVER have been on the stage to even try. You are my hero for having the gumption (look it up), to even stand on the stage. I love you and Congratulations for being so brave. Love you bunches, Gego

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