Richard and the Bee

As a parent there are times you just have to cross your fingers, pray, and hope for the best. We had such a situation this week. Our youngest–and most shy–child decided to enter the school spelling bee. His division would include not just first graders like himself, but first, second and third graders together. And, as I said, he’s shy.

Needless to say, we were surprised. And nervous. You want your children to take chances and plow new ground. You don’t want them to fail at it and have them be less willing to put themselves out there again. So we helped him study as best we could and prayed things would turn out well.

He didn’t like studying the words. Terhi patiently found some ways to encourage him and get him to put in more of an effort. But he had still only made it through half the list by the day of the spelling bee. When we’d help him practice the night before he’d miss words and get upset. We were getting worried.

That morning, however, he did well on the practice words we gave him, boosting his confidence. Then came the competition. He was nervous, of course, but relaxed quite a bit when he got his first word correct. Then he missed one, but they were allowed one miss. He got the next several words correct, including two compound words he hadn’t practiced. When he did finally go out, he’d at least made it into the top half of the group, and was the only one left from his class.

Most importantly, he was pleased with his performance. That was the important thing, and the thing we had worried about the most. Our kids don’t need to win all the time, but we at least want them to do well enough that they’ll be willing to keep trying new things. So from our point of view, and apparently Richard’s as well, that was a win.

Terhi and I can heave a sigh of relief now. Our boy put himself out there and tried something difficult and a little intimidating. I’m so grateful it turned out to be a good experience for him. These are the moments you live for as a parent.