Hallie came home from school a couple weeks ago with her good news minute: She won her class spelling bee and would be moving on to the school wide spelling bee for grades 4th-6th. She was excited (as she should be) and we were excited for her. But then it started to get a little closer and I could see her nerves start to set in. She had a list of words from the national level that they may pull from but she wasn’t spending time looking at the list. She started joking that she may be sick that morning and the replacement girl would have to step in – that’s when I realized although it was fun to win her class, she really didn’t want to stand in front of the school and I don’t blame her.
The last two nights she spent some time looking over the list which I think made her even more discouraged because there were some hard words – words I didn’t even know how to pronounce, let alone spell.
Today was the day. We went to the school to watch and when I walked in the gym and saw her sitting on the stage my stomach dropped. She looked miserable and scared to death up there. I made eye contact with her and with all the emotions of my face, tried to reassure her she would be great. Her face told me that she wanted off that stage!
Hallie is a smart girl. She’s kind. She’s loving. But she’s also a perfectionist and I knew standing in front of a large group with the potential to misspell a word would be embarrassing. So I waited on pins and needles for every round she stood up to the mic. It was nerve-wracking – not because I wanted her to win but because I wanted her to feel good about how she did. I hoped she wouldn’t miss a word that she knew and was just too nervous to spell it correctly. And in one of the last rounds she was given the word balloonist – in which she spelled it b-a-l-o-o-n-i-s-t. And the bell rang, she was out. She returned to her seat until the round was complete and then she walked off the stage with three others, leaving the finalists to duke it out.
Hallie was disappointed in the word she missed but I was a proud mom. We want to pretend that kids don’t share the same fears and anxieties we feel which is why it’s easy for us to tell them to do stuff we would never do ourselves. But in all reality – her fears were real and it took a lot of strength to stand up in front of her school today. I love that she did it. I love that she was nervous and didn’t call in sick. I love that she tried something that she’s never done before even with the fear of not being perfect. I love that her brother got to see her participate (in which he said he will make sure to never win his class spelling bee!). And I’m happy that she made it far enough to be happy but not far enough to move on to the district level and have to experience those emotions all over again!
Well done Hallie, facing the fear head on and defeating it is worth far more than winning the spelling bee. Remember too when giving yourself a hard time that the only one who is 100% perfect is God.