She also began to fret aloud about her possible performance. "What if I'm the first one out?" "What if I misspell a word I know just because I say it wrong?" "What if I completely mess everything up? Why have I told so many people I was in this spelling bee?!"
Now, my answers to queries such as these were statements like, "Well, you might," and "Yes, that could happen," because when I am in similar nerve-inducing situations, that is what makes me feel better. I play the "what if" game clear down the line: What if I fail? Well, I've survived worse, so I'll probably feel bad for a while and then be fine. What if I upset everyone? I upset people all the time. I'll either decide I need to apologize or they'll get over themselves and stop being such thin-skinned pansies. (I am often not a very nice person inside my own head.) I will What If to the metaphorical death. (What if I die? "O death, where is thy sting?" Hey, still fine!)
Somehow, somehow this turned out to be not the most comforting thing for our scared daughter to hear, but thankfully I married a man whose face gives me helpful visual cues; in this instance after I said to her, "Well, yeah, you might be the first person out," his face turned to me and managed to communicate What is wrong with you? with no words at all, because he is very talented. Then he told her that she would not be the first person out, and that she was going to do great, because she is a fantastic speller, and other reassuring and comforting things that she apparently needed to hear, and thank God she has a dad is what I am saying.
The morning of the bee she was still nervous, but manageably so, I think in part because we were busy making sure we had all our baked goods in order to turn in to the foods barn at the fair (and oh, isn't that a story for another day), and then we were walking around, and getting delicious food like corn dogs and cheese curds and such. Caedmon demonstrates how seriously we take this food in the photo below, double-fisting food on a stick.
And then it was time to head for the spelling bee.
Adelaide had been pretty clingy all morning, hanging on me and squeezing me at regular intervals, and thankfully by that time I'd learned to simply squeeze back and keep my big trap shut. When we walked in, though, she put on a brave face, found her chair, and sat herself down, leaving the rest of us to find seats and watch all the other contestants and their families file in. I realized very quickly that I was not going to handle the experience well, and communicated my feelings to my mother via text before Adelaide had even spelled her first word.
I'm assuming most of you have attended a spelling bee or similar event at some point in your lives, so I won't give you a blow-by-blow of the event, but I will say it started with a full room and 81 chairs for the hopeful spelling contestants,
Adelaide ended up spelling word after word after word right, and really, most of the words were easily within her spelling abilities. The only two words I worried about were "conscience" ("Please, please God tell me she knows it's spelled con-science, con-science... YES! She knows!") and "indebtedness" (Surely she knows the root word is "debt," surely she knows that... if I hear her say the letter "b" I'll know that she knows what she's doing.... YES! She knows!"). I also half-regretted telling her to take her time, not hurry, because it would be a shame to misspell a word simply because she rushed through it. She did take her time spelling each word, but that also gave me time to have a mini-stroke in between each letter, I swear.
And then, after two hours of spelling, she won.
I'll be back tomorrow to talk about more of the details of the day's experiences, because you know one post is not enough to contain all the words I have for this event. For now, suffice it to say: We were so proud, not just because she won, but because she had the guts to get up there and try even though it was nerve-wracking and hard, and at the end of the day we had to tell her that no, she was not allowed to sleep with her trophy, but it could absolutely stay in her room with her.