by Sharin Post
I have always insisted there are two kinds of people in this world. Spellers, and people like me. My sister is nothing like me.
Which goes to show you that not all homeschoolers are Spelling Bee champs.
My husband, a public school graduate, is also nothing like me. Which ends the nature/nurture discussion for me right there. Two of my children take after him. My oldest is a lot like me.
Twain agrees with me. And he is nothing like me.
The ability to spell is a natural gift. The person not born with it can never become perfect in it. I was always able to spell correctly. My wife, and her sister, Mrs. Crane, were always bad spellers. Once when Clara was a little chap, her mother was a way from home for a few days, and Clara wrote her a small letter every day. When her mother returned, she praised Clara’s letters. Then she said, “But in one of them, Clara, you spelled a word wrong.”
Clara said, with quite unconscious brutality, “Why mamma, how did you know?”
– Mark Twain
I make my children participate in the spelling bee because it develops character. Also, here in Texas, while there are few government regulations concerning home education, “spelling” is decreed as a required course of study. SO, if my children participated in a spelling bee, then it just stands to reason they must have studied spelling. Right? Of course, right!
This Bee is a trial and tribulation for my oldest. I don’t care how well he does; I just want him to learn something. Seriously, that’s all. Now, we haven’t participated in a couple of years because of my health. But this year, he was at it again by parental mandate. And he accomplished his objective:
On his written test, he only missed one word. That word was not even on his “study list.” So that means he got all his “study list” words right. That makes me very proud of him.
In the oral bee, he went five 3-word rounds. Against this boy, who was bound and determined to go all the way (he took second in the finals). My son spelled many of his “dreaded” words correctly. A personal triumph. R.A.S.P.B.E.R.R.Y.
As I have said before, I never had any large respect for good spelling. That is my feeling yet. Before the spelling book came with its arbitrary forms, men unconsciously revealed shades of their characters, and also added enlightening shades of expression to what they wrote by their spelling, and so it is possible that the spelling book has been a doubful benevolence to us.
– Mark Twain
Never a truer word was written. Shakspere would totally agree.
My middle boy was too young to compete in the “real” Bee. He did it all, anyway, with his young contemporaries, though he had no hope of “going on.” He did well on the written, though not perfect. And he went three rounds of 5-words each to miss on the hotly-contested “crowd.” Two children missed that word due to the pronunciation of the caller. I say it was a hotly-contested decision, because a Cute Little Girl misunderstood a word the round before and the word was thrown out. The judge offered to give my little guy a sentence, though, since he was the second child to receive the misspelled word, and he declined, and misspelled it anyway. So when the parents were protesting that the word should be thrown out, I stood up and said he knew the rules and said he understood the word. (Mean Mommy.)
But he did. Know the rules. We “play Bee” a lot at home, so he knew what was coming. And he didn’t have money riding on the event. Well, that’s not entirely true. The evening before, Daddy declared a $10 prize to anyone who won their division. But in my defense, if you were there, you would want to end the agony of the 6 hour Spelling Bee ASAP, too.
Daddy declared it a “mistrial,” and awarded the little guy his $10, much to everyone’s surprise and delight. And he harbors no ill will toward his Mean Mommy. Much to her relief. She predicts he wins next year. Watch out, cute little girl.
Ironically, Cute Little Girl is the little sister of Princess’s Spelling Nemesis. That family speaks 3 languages. Cute Little Girl informed me, before the Bee, that “My daddy went to college and learned all the languages of the world.” The mom laughed so hard when I told her that. She stayed late to cheer for Adana. They are good people, as my grandma would say.
Some people stomp their feet when they spell. Some people shuffle. Since the spellers at our Bee were seated at a table, some of them tapped their fingers or swung their shoes.
My Princess giggled.
She giggled when she repeated the word.
She giggled while she spelled it.
She giggled while she said it again.
She giggled when the judged declared it correct.
She giggled all through the Bee. Six hours of non-stop giggling.
She even giggled when they gave her awards.
She giggled when her nemesis, “the orientalish girl who beat me and the boy with glasses in first grade,” and she were taken aside for a written Bee re-match because they had both received perfect scores.
She giggled when they both received First Place Fourth Grade Written Bee when the written Bee judge gave up, realizing it would take all day to eliminate one of them.
She giggled when she and Nemesis exchanged phone numbers and promised to be friends.
She giggled when she won the Fourth Grade Oral Bee and received her ribbon.
She giggled when she took third place in the Middle School Spelling Bee Finals .
She giggled all the way home in the van.
Everyone told her she will go to county Bee someday to represent our homeschool group.
She just giggled.
Are you a speller? Or are you like me?