I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been trying pretty hard to not write about the kids at Fluid Pudding. (Mommy Blogger, Schmommy Blogger, am I right?!) Today I feel the need to pull up my MomBlog pants for a quick Meredith story.
Every year, the girls’ school holds a spelling bee. Every third, fourth, and fifth grade classroom has a mini bee, during which a top speller is chosen to represent the class at the school bee. Meredith was the top speller in her third grade class last year, which scored her a spot at the bee.
Please take a moment and follow this link to see how tiny she looked at the bee last year. While you’re there, you can read about how I cried three times during the bee. After that, you can see that I was sort of obsessed with that whole nose piercing thing last year at this time. Eyeliner dots on my nose. So silly. We were all younger back then, weren’t we?
A few months ago, Meredith came home from school and announced that she had once again scored the honor of being the top speller in her class. She then presented us with the (HUGE) list of words that she would be studying until the day of the school spelling bee. She was serious. Motivated. She wanted to win more than she has wanted ANYTHING (except for an iPod Touch) EVER.
Because Jeff is the greatest dad, he recorded each and every one of those challenging words into a spelling app so that Meredith could practice around the clock. Her iPod would recite each word in Jeff’s voice, Meredith then typed each word in, and when she was finished testing she was given a percentage of correct words along with a list of missed words. Last weekend she tested herself on over 300 of the words. She missed only two of them, and the two she missed were because of typing errors. She was ready.
I drove to school yesterday afternoon for this year’s bee. Although the bee had absolutely nothing to do with me, I was a wreck. When the spellers entered the cafeteria, I immediately started guzzling my tea to keep from tearing up. (Why?! I know!!!) The third, fourth, and fifth graders were seated, the moderator explained the rules, and it was time to begin.
It didn’t take long to notice that one of the spellers is what I refer to as a Magical Child. She’s a fifth grader. She’s lovely and polite and smart. She is a musician. Her mom is involved in the PTO. Her family attends events. She is well-liked. Confident. She is a GREAT SPELLER.
Moderator: Magical Child, your word is Insouciant.
Magical Child: Insouciant. EyeEnEssOhYouSeeEyeAyEnTee. Insouciant.
Moderator: That is correct.
I knew right away that Magic could take this thing.
It took only a few rounds before several of the spellers’ nerves were exposed and they started making simple mistakes. (The first boy down missed the word Bridge, and it broke me because I know he knew that word and I also know that the bee was something he took seriously because he was wearing a tie. A TIE! (Studies have shown that emotional tears contain more manganese, an element that affects temperament, and more prolactin, a hormone that regulates milk production. Sobbing out manganese and prolactin is thought to relieve tension by balancing the body’s stress levels and eliminating build-up of the chemicals, making the crier feel better. I need to head to the pharmacy and grab some supplements, because I believe I’m currently manganese and prolactin deficient.))
It took about twenty minutes to get down to the final three spellers: Meredith, Magic, and Some Girl I Don’t Know.
Meredith had spelled Describe, Upbringing, Poultry, Caterpillar, Eruption, Emotional, Curiosity, and Isolation. These were easy words. It was time to turn it up a notch.
Moderator: Magical Child, your word is Pharmaceutical.
(Please know that her word wasn’t REALLY Pharmaceutical. At this point my hands were so sweaty that I could no longer take notes.)
Magic: Pharmaceutical. Pharmaceutical. PeeAychAyArEmEeSeeYouTeeEyeSeeAyEl. Pharmaceutical.
Moderator: I’m sorry.
As soon as Magic sat down, I made eye contact with Meredith. This was it. Things were happening. Oh My Oh My Oh My Oh My Et Cetera.
It was now down to Meredith and That Girl I Don’t Know, who tended to spell her words as if she was asking a question. (Her style did not inspire confidence. Have I mentioned how emotionally charged this whole spelling bee thing can be?!)
Moderator: Meredith. Your word is Evaluate.
Meredith (after taking a big breath): Evaluate. EeVeeAyYouAyTeeEe. Evaluate.
She knew she missed it. She knew her nerves got the best of her. She was angry and disappointed and I have no idea what happened next because I was lying on the floor soaked in my own vomit.
The Girl I Still Don’t Know spelled her word correctly to finish out the round, and then spelled her NEXT word correctly and that’s when she was proclaimed the winner and it all happened so quickly and photos were taken and I DO remember whispering the word, “Damnit.” and I hope no one saw or heard me, because this is not the time nor the place for my foul mouth. I clapped for the winner. I did. I was sincerely happy for her, and the fact that her sister went up and hugged her after the bee warmed my heart like crazy. What made me even HAPPIER was that I later learned that The Girl I Don’t Know is in the fifth grade. It was her final year to compete. If Meredith can’t win, I want it to be a fifth grader. I want it to be a Girl I Don’t Know.
When Meredith came out to the car after school, Harper asked how the bee went.
Meredith: I lost.
Me: Actually, you tied for second place! Third place last year, second place this year! IT’S ALL SO AWESOME WITH THE DAISIES AND UNICORNS AND TWIX BARS AND HAPPINESS!
Harper: What word did you miss?
Harper, who is about to win the Fluid Pudding Award for Kindness with this statement: Meredith, evaluate is a very tricky word.
Me: It is a VERY tricky word and PRIDE AND AWESOME AND SOMETIMES I HAVE TO RAMBLE AND SPEAK LOUDLY BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW WHY!
Meredith: When Dad gets home, can we celebrate with a burrito?