The Sting Of The Spelling Bee

Can you spell A-N-X-I-E-T-Y?

This evening Miss M competed in the Year Four Spelling Bee at school. She has been studying a word list that, quite frankly, would make most adults tremble and ask for Mummy. Miss M worked her little butt off and I am a very proud mama bear. I am also devastated for my little girl, who worked so hard, can spell ridiculous words like paroxysm, vehemence, exhilarate and harangue and still got knocked out tonight in the semi-final round. Boy, oh boy, did she cry.

After lots of cuddles and a big chat, she is fine. I explained that it’s okay to feel disappointed, as long as she also makes space next to ‘disappointed’ for ‘proud’ and ‘brave. I think she gets it. I hope so. It’s so important for her to learn to fail and then to get up, brush off and try again.

I have decided to share with you some of the words from her Spelling Bee list. The definitions may or may not be accurate.

Anxiety – The feeling a parent experiences as she watches her little girl standing in front of a crowd, waiting to hear what insanely enormous and totally intimidating word she is going to have to spell.

Apocalypse – The end of the world. What Little Miss envisioned would happen if she didn’t get through to the next round.

Artificial – The “brave” smile on my face as I watched the Spelling Bee. Inside I was a train-wreck.

Artilliary – A synonym for the insanely difficult words aimed at these little kids.

Accurate – Something these nine year olds have to be, because no mistakes are tolerated in the hardass Spelling Bee Universe.

Aghast – The first word Miss M had to spell, which she got correct. Yeah!

Bizarre – The word that shattered Miss M’s world, crumpled her face, triggered tears and broke my heart. She spelled bazaar. :(

Catastrophe – Something being knocked out of a Spelling Bee is not. Try explaining that to Miss M.

Dessert – A substance which has curative powers over broken spirits of little people. To be taken in double doses, if necessary. It works.

Delicious – The joyous reaction of a little boy who got through and phoned a family member overseas – American Idol style – to announce that he was going to Hollywood! Okay, not Hollywood, but you get it…

Disappointed – A word that describes about one percent of what Little Miss felt as she was knocked out of the Spelling Bee.

Effluent – What could be found under my seat during the Spelling Bee.

Excruciating – The experience of watching your child compete in a Spelling Bee. Likely to cause diarrhoea. See “effluent” above.

Ferocious – The competition. Sheesh – these Year Fours can spell. Hats off to an amazing group of kids.

Ghastly – See “effluent” above.

Humorous – Something Spelling Bees are not.

Incense – Not to be confused with “incensed” – as in “I am incensed by the cruel inclusion of the word ‘bizarre’ in the spelling bee!”

Jeopardy – Used in a sentence: Because I am lame and can’t cope with a this Spelling Bee roller-coaster, I was in dire jeopardy of having a heart attack.

Lacerate – What Miss M’s tears did to my heart.

Machete – A large cutting implement one might like to use to shred the Spelling Bee word list into a gazillion pieces tomorrow morning.

Nonchalant – An attitude I am clearly incapable of pulling off.

Paroxysm – A sudden violent fit (like the one I had when I saw the word ‘paroxysm’ on the list. I mean, really. And Miss M can spell it. Like a champ. Booyah.)

Perennial – You guessed it. It’s coming around again next year.

Psychiatry – Something I am clearly in need of.

Raspberry – A fruit with a hidden “P” inside it.

Serene – I am unfamiliar with this word. Please explain.

Sergeant – A word with “E”s and “A”s in ridiculous places.

Spectator – Someone who watches Spelling Bees while producing a puddle of effluent as a result of diarrhoea.

Squirt – The action of Miss M’s tears as they came out of her eyes.

Supercilious – The feeling I would imagine one experiences when winning a Spelling Bee.

Terrifying – Spelling Bees

Unanimous – Used in a sentence: It was unanimous that the Spelling Bee was stressful, the kids were brave and alcoholic beverages were needed. Stat.

Zucchini – Our favourite vegetable because it is the last words on the list.

Now I can breathe again. Until next year…

Have you watched your kids compete in a Spelling Bee? Please tell me you were as mental as I was? If you liked this post, please comment and share and I’ll really love you if you click the thumbs-up button below. You may also like You suck! and Where did I come from? (How not to answer the question.)and Confessions of a Tooth Fairy and The Story of a High Horse.

About Michelle Lewsen (They Call Me Mummy)

Michelle Lewsen is an award-winning copywriter with 18 years’ experience in the advertising industry. She is the author of where she writes about her imperfect parenting, struggles with work-life balance and the often laugh-out-loud chaos that her Adult ADHD brings to her life. Michelle was honoured as a Voice of the Year by BlogHer in 2013 (“Inspiration” category) and again in 2014 ("Heart" category) for her writing on The three most interesting and fun people she's ever met call her Mummy and keep her feet firmly planted on the ground. The same goes for her husband, who suffers through her adult ADHD with an admirable generosity of spirit. In her spare time (between 1am and 6am) she's been writing a series of children's books. Soon, she'll be publishing them and your kids are going to adore them, so watch this space.

Posted on J September, 2012, in Gratitude, Life, Motherhood, Parenting, Self-esteem and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.


Dear Mummy: My daughter (now a 17 year old college sophomore) competed in numerous spelling bees from the time she was 6 to 13. After going to Scripps National Spelling bee 5 years in a row, she placed 3rd - a very bitter/sweet experience. I can honestly say I had a love/hate relationship with the whole experience. Spellings bees are not like most "sporting" events - as you know one wrong letter and you're out. There is so much luck involved. And don't even get me started on homonyms! EEK! So many of them. However, I still watch the NSB and enjoy seeing those brainiac kids succeed as well as struggle through words. What a great educational experience it was for my daughter and my son and now my 8 year old son. Best of luck to you and Miss M as she continues on the journey of learning new words like rijsttafel (one of my daughter's favorites) Sincerely, Pamela