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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spelling Bee

The worst part of what we fear is the fear. Last January, my daughter competed in the school-wide spelling bee. I wasn't there to support her. I didn't even know she had advanced to the school-wide spelling bee.

The whole idea of it paralyzed her to the point of bad judgement. She hid the note she was supposed to give us about the day and time of the bee. She didn't even want to be in the spelling bee.

Feeling alone on the stage in the spotlight and petrified in front of all the parents and students who watched from the auditorium seats, she stepped to the microphone. As her palms moistened and her knees trembled, she ruminated about the embarrassment of messing up. She hardly heard the teacher instruct her, "Your word is fossil."

After school, when I asked her, as usual, about her day, she replied, "It was awful."

Naturally, I prodded for more information. The story of the heretofore unknown and now most unfortunate spelling bee poured from her like sticky honey from the comb on a hot summer afternoon. She talked fast like bees buzzed to get it back. She told of the stage and the lights and the microphone and everyone looking at her and how her first word was fossil and how she almost cried because she was so afraid she would spell it wrong even though she knows how to spell fossil.

"Well?" I asked, "Did you spell it wrong?"

"F - o - c - e - l," she harumphed.

"Then what happened?" I inquired.

"They told me to sit down," she pouted.

"That's it?"

"That's it," she said with her arms crossed over her chest.

"What a wonderful gift you received today," I told her, my typical, annoying glass-half-full attitude increasing her fury and despair. Two important things happened for her at the spelling bee:
1) She will never forget how to spell fossil.
2) She realized that the worst part of the spelling bee was the worrying about it.

Though I thought she was ignoring my upside account of her disappointment, by the time her father arrived home from work that night, she bubbled all over him in eager tones, "Do you want to hear what happened to me at school today?" When he asked her how she did in the spelling bee, she laughed, "Terrible, t - e - r - r - i - b - l - e."

This year, the school mailed the announcement about the spelling bee to the parents of the participants. She will be competing in it again. She already told me about it, excitedly, even before the letter arrived. Friday morning, I will be one of the many faces looking at her from the audience while she stands in the spotlight. I'm pretty sure that this year, win or lose, everything will be different.

1 comment:

William Kendall said...

What a story, Lucy! Thanks for sharing it!

It's the worrying that'll do you in from time to time, not the act itself...

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