At first, AJ did not want to compete. Among her excuses (besides being too tired) were that math was more her thing than spelling and that she was too shy to perform in front of others. We told her it wasn't optional, so, reluctantly, she practiced her words. The teacher had provided her two lists - one for first grade, and one for second grade, as the kids would be competing together. With everything else going on around here, it was honestly hard to find time to drill with her.
So we practiced. We practiced at the dinner table. We practiced in the bathtub. We practiced at Granddaddy's house. We practiced in the car. I worried we weren't practicing enough - I made her go through every word one more time the night before, even though it was late.
Then, the big day came. Ben and I took off work to be there for the main event. We were rewarded with this glare.
The room was set up exactly like it had been for Math Derby - with the kids in a line and the parents sitting behind them. This kept the kids from seeing parents' nervous faces and kept parents from cheating by mouthing the answers.
There was no practice round - the teacher got right down to business.
Although the kids had trouble remembering to say the word, spell it, and then say it again, they all did pretty well at spelling.
It was heart-wrenching to watch some kids get eliminated. One, for example, was asked to spell "stump" and spelled "stomp." Sometimes words like that are confused, and he took it hard.
In fact, one of the third place kids, after he got eliminated, went over to his mom and all was fine for a second, but then, the child SCREAMED a huge scream. "AAAAAAAAAAH!" It rattled all of us - we were not expecting such an outburst in the quiet library with everyone focused on the outcome of the bee.
Just then, we were down to two finalists - AJ and another little boy, Christian (also a 1st grader). Again, it was like the Math Derby where the winner had to get 2 answers correct in a row. Christian missed a word, and AJ got it right. Then, AJ was asked to spell "judge."
"J-U-D-E" she said.
Christian got it right and was then asked to spell "power," which he did, correctly.
Too bad. We congratulated him and took pictures.
We understood - we were a little shaky ourselves. I realize parents shouldn't get so worked up. But it was a big deal! She was one letter away from victory! And she never missed that word in practice - I checked the ones I had circled. It was on the 2nd grade list!
Therefore, I have decided to note that she is the best FEMALE speller in all of first and second grade.