The small army of women who volunteered their time and abilities at the bee.
It turns out retired teachers are exactly who you want to have organizing and hosting and making a spelling bee happen for your child. Adelaide is in the photo above, standing at one of the microphones, chatting with two of the volunteers and another contestant while waiting for one of the later rounds to start. These women and all their superhero(ine) friends were amazing. They were smiling and affectionate and patient and calming and encouraging, had looks of such compassion on their faces when someone made a mistake, excitement when someone correctly spelled a word, and the coordinator of it all gave each kid a hug and a few words just for them along with their certificate when they were out. Any kid facing a competition deserves to be so mothered.
There was a fellow contestant, a young girl, who in early rounds proved herself to be a wily speller. She was given the word "scissors" and immediately said, "Scissors: C-...." and then stopped. There was a long pause, followed by her admitting aloud, "I just ruined it for myself, didn't I?" and my heart broke for her. When she was finally able to speak again, she did so with dark humor, not even attempting to spell the word, instead uttering a rushed jumble of letters: "D-M-O-F." I laughed sadly- smart and funny! I want Adelaide to be friends with this girl! Then there was the *ding* of the bell that signified the misspelling of the word, and the poor thing shuffled off to the side for her consolation hug and certificate. It was the closest I came to rooting for anyone other than our daughter.
When I wasn't torturing myself by trying to wind my legs ever tighter around each other in an attempt to relieve some of the tension caused by watching Daughter in the bee, I found a welcome distraction in the form of our boys, who were very good considering they had to be quiet and still for two hours, although thankfully Derek's parents were there and helped us keep an eye on them. Atticus in particular helped me get my mind off my anxiety when he peeled a sticky label off a water bottle, put it over his eyes, and soon found that this was an unwise move on his part.
|"I have made a terrible mistake."|
The important part is he struggled not to remove his own eyelashes and eyebrows quietly.
Among her many prizes and spoils, Adelaide received two coupons for free ice cream at the fair. As soon as we had concluded our business at the bee, we headed to the nearer of the two stands offering her free ice cream for winning, the Barksdale Concession stand in the Varied Industries Building.
Even though she had just won a competition and we were very proud, I never miss an opportunity to teach/force our children to do certain things like learning to interact with the world at large. I therefore urged Adelaide up to the counter at the concession stand, telling her first what to do, because really, she is ten years old and shouldn't need our help with this kind of thing. I will say we were a mere ten feet behind her, ready to jump in, just in case, so back off, internet critics.
That stand is mostly staffed by very young-looking ladies and men, and one of them first accepted Adelaide's coupon before turning to the one slightly older looking person there- who I assume was a supervisor- checking for approval, I guess. This guy got down on Adelaide's level, took in the information, and proceeded to heartily congratulate her, announced to the crowd that this young lady had just won the Iowa State Fair Spelling Bee, and led them all in a round of applause. He also encouraged another employee to top off our daughter's requested mint chocolate chip ice cream cone with a little extra ice cream, because she had just won first place, hadn't she?
|That's Daughter in the purple shirt at the counter, Mr. Nice in the glasses on the left.|
Oh my goodness. So much kindness. Adelaide was flying high, recounting the entire episode to me in case I had missed a single detail, absolutely delighted, and I kept asking myself WHY ARE PEOPLE SO WONDERFUL? while hollering "Thank you so much!" to the guy over the large crowd. He smiled and waved you're welcome, and now I'm kicking myself because I didn't get his name. I've had to console myself by emailing Barksdale Concessions and the Iowa State Fair, recounting the story and attaching the previous photo but zoomed in on his face, praying he'll get some kind of recognition for just being dang nice.