Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Spelling Bee

My daughter, Mills, decided to enter a Spelling Bee.  She is in first grade, and she is a pretty good speller, because, Hallie, her older sister taught her to read.  Hallie has that "teacher gene" from Brad's side, and she thought it would be fun to invent "Book Club" when Mills was like 3. 

I swear to God, Hallie taught Mills to read. She would do flash cards and give homework, and have tests - the whole SHEBANG. It seems really sweet on the outside looking in, but in reality, I delegated part of Mills' child rearing to her older sister. I am not proud of that, but it is what it is, right?  As far as I am concerned, I am just giving Hallie future teacher street cred.  I am not, in any way, copping to the fact that I am a lousy Mother, okay?

The other day, I actually witnessed this conversation between Hallie and Mills in which Hallie scolded Mills,

"You have GOT to start bookclub with Eva!  You are way behind!"

Mills replied, "I tried to, a long time ago, but she just said, 'No Mills.  I don't want to learn how to read from YOU."  Classic Eva.  I guess I am going to have to step up this time.

This all took place because Eva, my four-year-old, pointed to a picture of a cow, while they were playing school, and yelled, "Dog!"  She loves messing with the two of them, because they are so anal.  She is Brad, made over.  

So,  I asked both the older girls if they were interested in doing the "Bee" when the flier comes home, and of course, Hallie concedes, and Mills jumps at the chance to do anything that will draw attention to her.  In Mills' eyes, there is never enough attention for her.  She is the type that always keeps score and the World revolves around her.  That is not to say that she does not have one of the biggest hearts I have ever encountered.  (The girl insists on kissing me full on the mouth, before bed every night.) Her heart is always in the right place, it is just lags behind her head that is filled with self-centeredness.  She is just one of those kids that you constantly have to REMIND them how good they have it, and that there are other beings in the universe besides her.

Anyway, Mills is my middle child, and she decides to do this Spelling Bee.  It is the first year they have allowed 1st - 3rd graders to participate.  They have a preliminary Spelling Bee with all of the 1st - 3rd graders, and then if you make it through 5 rounds of spelling words, you can continue on to the next Spelling Bee with the 4th and 5th graders.  This is a recipe for disaster.

So it is the night before the Bee, and I download the word list so that Mills can practice.  She is obsessed, of course.  I help her for a couple of hours, and then I let Hallie take over, natch. But still,with every ounce of my being, SHE HAS GOT TO MAKE THAT CUT.  I do not mean that in a controlling, child-obsesssive, acheivement driven, living through your child, kind of way.  I swear.  I am just envisioning what my late afternoon and night are going to hold, and possibly my weekend, if she misspells a word, and it is not pretty, my friends.

The more she studies and I quiz her (or Hallie quizzes her, let's be real) the more anxious I get.  Brad is even getting in on the action, adding to my misery, by imagining scenarios in which Mills fails.  By the end of the night, I am beside myself.

The next morning Brad and I are, again, discussing how bad it is gonna be when she misses a word.

"Wish I could be there," he deadpans, "but I have a meeting."


I tell Mills that she cannot cry if she gets out, that it is a school function and she needs to keep her dignity.  She asks me what "dignity" means and all I can picture is Martin Luther King, Jr.,  and I cannot figure out a way to articulate "dignity" because I am tired, so I decide on the words "shit together".  Just kidding.  But I did think it.  I ended up just saying, "Just don't cry.  Now go to bed."  And that's the truth. 

In true Mills fashion, she countered, "Oh, I get it.  I shouldn't cry because then the judges will feel bad."  That girl has been watching too much American Idol with J.Lo crying every five seconds.  I mean, sometimes they just SUCK, Jenny from the Block, stop promoting your new album.  I feel like that chic is always thinking three steps ahead, you know?

I digress.  So we are at the Spelling Bee, and even though I told Mills a thousand times to just go to the Gym, that I would meet her after carpool, the first words she utters to me are "you're late."

It's useless to plead my case in the middle of the auditorium in front of multiple stands of Moms.  At this point, I just want to start holding my breath until she misses her first word.  Brad is texting me furiously, "What's happening?"  and "Did she get out yet?"  To him it is all one big dodge ball tournament. Seriously, we were both on pins and needles.

Thank God, one of my best friends and her husband were sitting near me.  She totally got it because she knows Mills.

I made friends with the other Moms around me, too, who were equally nervous.  At one point, we were pointing out our children and I recognized one Mother's child, because "she was the one who did the back bend when she got her word right."  These were Moms I could totally relate to.  I felt better.

Well, to make a long story short, Mills somehow managed to make the cut.  This was partially due to the good graces of the judges who awarded her words like, "Boy, Better, and Other".  I wonder if it had to do with that threatening email I sent?  One will never know, I guess, and I don't think I want to.  Let's just say that my budget is blown for June, you dig?    Everybody has a price, mi amigos.  No matter where you live.  Geez, I hope my check clears. Okay, I am just joking, in case someone reads this and it ruins Mills' shot at the title.

So, anyway, my recommendation to you today is to get the new IPad 2.  That is what I downloaded Mills' practice words on.  Her Mimi and Grandpa Kennie bought it for them as an "out of the blue" gift.  It is amazing.  It will save me this summer.  That thing is so sleek, I am embarrassed to keep talking about it, because I am not worthy of owning one.  So, if it is in your budget - invest.  At the very least it will save your marriage.  Word.

Here is the outfit we came up with for the Spelling Bee. Do you think it's too much?

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