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DrMolly Musings: What We All Learned From The Spelling Bee
It was exciting. It was nerve wracking. It was tense. And then it was done.
The state finals for the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee were yesterday and Mairen was one of the four finalists. She had studied and read and been quizzed and had won the regional bee a few weeks ago but she knew this one would be tougher. It was being taped at WXYZ studios in front of a live audience made up of family and friends of the four finalists and she was going up against last year's national second place finisher, Sidharth, from Country Day.
We all strolled into the studio house around 9:30 and nervous excitement was in the air. Each finalist could invite up to 10 people and 2 of Mairen's favorite teachers were among the group coming to support her. Before the bee as we were signing our lives away and chatting, Mairen couldn't have seemed more calm. She was interviewed by the Oakland Press and was a pro. Inside I knew she was trembling but it never showed.
We all entered the studio where the bee was to be taped and met Diana Lewis. Talk about BEAUTIFUL! This is a woman who I have been watching on TV since I was a kid, who was in the first 'Rocky' movie and she was beautiful and kind and funny and made us all feel welcome. The finalists did a practice round just to get their jitters out and then the taping began. There were many stops and retakes as Diana and the pronouncer and judges got their stuff down pat but once the bee began, there were no retakes, no stopping the cameras....the kids were on their own.
They all breezed through the first round with Mairen spelling third of the four finalists and Sidharth going last. And then in the second round, she go the word 'chaplain'. She asked for the language of origin (latin to french), the part of speech (noun), and the definition and that's when I suspected she was in trouble. We aren't church-goers and this fact bit her in the butt. She started spelling 'C-H-A-P-L-I-N' and the little belled dinged indicating she had misspelled the word. She gracefully exited the stage and we watched with little tears in our eyes as she did. We all wanted to spare her the disappointment and sadness and anger that was inevitable in losing but we couldn't and she had to sit on her own until the bee was done.
Sidharth won handily and was a humble second time champion. Mairen was devastated but held her composure, congratulated Sidharth, and thanked all of the people who had come to support her. On the way home, she let her hair down and angrily cried and showed her disappointment. I held her and told her how incredibly proud we all are of her for her achievements...and more importantly loved her just for who she is and not for her accolades. She recovered with the help of her friends at forensics practice that afternoon and in the evening, I told her that I had never been more proud of her. Losing publicly has to be one of the hardest things on earth for anyone and this young woman, just 12, in 8th grade, had lost with grace and kindness and composure.
Honestly I am not sure if I would have been any more proud if she had won.
Love your kids, hold them close when they lose, and praise them for trying so hard and each day will be your best!
Posted by Molly O\\\\\\\'Shea on March 15, 2009 11:01, website
My heart aches for Mairen! I was considered a good speller back in the day. But, when it was just the spelling bee at my school, I had the word "arena." Very simple. Somehow, I forgot the "a" I don't remember not saying the "a" I thought I had said the "a" but, no one else heard it so I don't think I did. So, congratulations to Mairen on a job very well done!!!!! You should be very proud of yourself.
Posted by Jen on March 15, 2009 19:35,
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