Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Speling Beeze.

My kids’ elementary school held its annual Spelling Bee this week for the 4th and 5th graders. Each teacher had a contest and the top two spellers from each class got to compete in the school-wide competition. Brayden, sadly, was not in the top two of her class. I would go so far as to guess she might have finished last, or near last, considering she can’t spell her way out of a B-A-G. She’s bright, but she’s not a natural-born speller.

So, because the competition was held on a Tuesday, and that’s the day I volunteer in the school each week, I decided to attend (pretty much, just to be nosy). And I have to tell you, I. Totally. Flashed. Back.

You might (or might not) know, but I am a complete, 100 percent, absolute and total spelling, punctuation, and grammar snob. That’s not to say I’m perfect, and Lord only knows you guys have all witnessed my use and abuse of both the exclamation point and the trailing period. But thanks to the modern-day genius of built-in spell check and my own anal tendencies, I get pretty annoyed when a spelling mistake slips past me and makes it into one of these journal entries.

I was like that at age 10, already. A pretty good speller. In fact, if I could toot my own horn (toot-toot!) a DAMN good speller. So when I got ready to attend my first-ever spelling bee in the 5th grade, it was with the utter and complete confidence that I would be the winner. Really, there wasn’t even a question. I would conquer. That’s C-O-N-Q-U-E-R. The title **would** be mine.

Here is the 10-yr old face of assurance, poise, and self-confidence:

Sadly, it’s a face framed by teeth into which I hadn’t quite grown, feathered hair that required half a can of Aqua-Net each morning, and the ugliest one-piece polyester dress ever known to mankind. If ever there was a need for The Swan, Jr. Version, you're looking at it.

But by golly, I could spell.

I don’t remember if we drew numbers, or how they determined our order. Somehow, I was number two. I went to a very small school, and the total number of fifth and sixth grade students (back when sixth grade was still elementary school) was probably less than a hundred kids. I don’t even remember how many competed, but I remember I was number two.

They called the first kid up to the microphone, and gave him his word: Lace.

And he spelled it: L-A-S-E.

And I remember sort of snorting under my breath at his moron-ness, thinking, in my totally compassionate and kind-hearted manner, “What a schmuck. Who can’t spell lace?”

As that poor, defeated student trod off the stage, I swaggered up to the microphone, brimming with confidence. Now, we obviously didn’t follow Scripps National Spelling Bee Rules and Regulations, because although this wasn’t the final round (not yet, but I’d be there soon enough!) as the next competitor, I was given the same word to spell: Lace.

And I sort of chuckled, as if to give the impression the judges were wasting my massive amount of brain energy and sheer spelling genius with such a lame word ….

And I leaned forward into the microphone, champion that I was, speaking loudly and clearly, and spelled the word: L-A-S-E.


Holy crap, did I just …. What????

I can’t believe I just did that!

Wait, stop, DO-OVER!!!!!!

But that was it. It was over. I was out, in the very first round. And as I took the Walk of Shame to the back table where the kids who had been eliminated were to sit, I was seething inside.


How could I have done something so monumentally stupid???? It was a trick, I tell you, a low down dirty rotten stinking trick! I was robbed!!!!

And as I sat there through the rest of the competition, I brooded on what an idiot I was, and how I had made such a colossal blunder. And continued to seethe. As the competition went on, other kids joined me at the table. A few even whispered and bragged about mis-spelling words on purpose to get out of the competition. Those little shits threw the bee intentionally, and I would have given anything for another chance.


I knew them all!!!!!

I couldn’t even say I was wrongfully stripped of my title, since I never got the title in the first place. But in my heart, I knew. K-N-E-W that I was the winner.

It’s been thirty years, and I still seethe.

I will always seethe.

Just like I was always remember how to spell lace.

Just like that little girl at my daughter’s school, the first child eliminated from the competition last week, will always remember how to spell “pilot”.

Not P-I-L-E-T, but P-I-L-O-T.


(And in the meantime, lace. Still seething.)


kingsten said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kristin Simmons said...

By the way, I'm a 3rd grade teacher and I had this awesome third grader last year who could spell A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G you threw at her! She called me today to say that she won the DISTRICT spelling bee- she's a 4th grader now- beating out an 8th grader!! Woo Hoo! Got to love Spellin' Beez~
Kristin Simmons
Plano, TX

Cindy said...

While I never had the honor of being part of a spelling bee, my dear son took part in our school's geography bee. They had to first take a test in their social studies class, then those who did well took part in a geography "spell off" (though no spelling was involved). Amazingly my son won! Yes, that kid who has been in special education since the age of two, who didn't speak until he was almost four, the kid who still had trouble tying his own shoes won the 6th grade team 2 geography bee. The following week was the face off, with the winners of each team in grades 6-8 set to compete on the stage. Unfortunately, the face off also came during the 6th grade lunch period! With his teachers cheering him on, my son went up to the microphone and gave his first answer - the wrong answer, deliberately - and an answer we all knew he knew. There were hot chicken nuggets in the cafeteria calling his name and it didn't matter what countries that river flowed through. You only get 25 minutes for lunch, and by golly, some things are more important than medals.

Anonymous said...

Your entry brought back a flasback from last year. Our youngest son is painfully shy, but doggone it, he can spell like a pro. He can even spell that really big word... antidisestablishmentarianism ... whatever that means, and it just comes naturally for him. I was so proud when he started yelling out, "TYPO!!!" when he was reading a book. That's my boy. But anyway, he made it to the competition as a third grader and as the parents and students all filled the gymnasium he sat up there with the other finalists and the poor kid nearly hyperventilated. It came time for him to spell his very first word. The first few students had words like "school" and "church" and "purple" (oh, please!) and his word was "adhesion". He took a deep breath and started blasting through the letters... A-D-H-S.... he left out the E. No goin' back. Kaput. Out. Done. He immediately got a look of shock on his face and then dropped his head in disbelief and slowly brought his hand to his forehead repeatedly, as if to knock some sense into himself. You could have heard a pin drop in the gymnasium. It was painful because everyone knew what an excellent speller he was. He slowly turned to walk away, and doggone it if he didn't accidentally run into the microphone and it crashed to the ground and made loud feedback screeching. Okay, that pretty much sucked. So this year? He's at a Montessori school now and guess what.....this particular school doesn't encourage "competition" so they're not letting the kids have a spelling bee. How sad is that? They're excited to get their sports program going, through. But isn't that "competition"? Don't even get me started. Cute picture, by the way. Ah, the days of feathered bangs.

Claire in Indiana

Jen said...

Your word is snort. Spell snort.

Snort? May I have a definition please?

Certainly. Snort is the completely embarrassing sound that Jen makes everytime she reads Kristie's blog.

Thanks for the laughs!

kim sprague said...

3rd grade, I knew I had the spelling bee all locked up...since I was the best speller.

Then came the word, "schoolhouse"

I couldnt remember if it was "s-ch-" or "s-hc" and of course spelled it wrong, and have been upset about it ever since!!

BTW, gotta love that outfit....and the winged bangs...those were the days.



Amy from St. Pete said...

You crack me up!! I guess I'm like Brayden, I can't spell my way out of a b-o-g, oh wait it's b-a-g, either!! I hope my guestbook entries don't drive you too crazy. I know I have terrible grammar and spelling!! Writing and spelling are gifts that I wasn't blessed with. I hated spelling bees in grade school and was usually one of the first ones out. It seems that I've passed this gift on to my oldest son, Austin. He can't spell to save his life.
I love your 5th grade do!! My mom had her friend give me my first perm in 5th grade, the night before pictures. Let's just say that picture day totally sucked!! I was forced to go to school looking like Bozo the clown, itchy wool pants and a white shirt with a collar that choked me!! I'll have to send you a picture of it one of these days.
Have a great day!!

Two Kids and a Husband said...

Ya I think everyone had that hairstyle. I know I definitly did. Only the back of my hair was a lot longer... we called them "pea wings". My sister and I both called my mom (who still has them) and told her that '1979 called and wants its hair back.' Her response...'what I like my hair.' TOOOOOO funny! Hummmm spelling and Grammer... Don't recall learning it in school. Must have been absent that day!!!

Anonymous said...

omg! I am the same way about spelling! It drives people crazy!!! haha! My chance at the spelling bee came in 8th grade. I came in 3rd. Why? Because I spelled bassoon with one s instead of 2. And I KNEW I it the second the o came out of my mouth. but it was too late- b-a-s-o.. No I'm sorry that is incorrect! ahhhh!!!

leesburg, va

Anonymous said...

I was one of those "little shits" that went out on purpose on the word fuel. I spelled it f-e-u-l...
I couldn't imagine ANYTHING more horrific than actually WINNING the school spelling bee!! Oh, how I wish I were still that "cool"!


Sue said...

I was out in the 5th grade on the word, "paid". I knew how to spell paid, but my brain shut off when talking in front of people, so I spelled it P-A-Y-E-D. How totally embarrassing for me, since I was (am?) a perfectionist about spelling. My husband can't spell half the words on our grocery list (like tomato, tortilla, cereal). Sadly, my children take after him. My 4th grader, who tests at the high school level in almost every other subject, is "at grade level" for spelling. My 2nd grader asks me to spell every word in her weekend journal for her. She spells went "whent" all the time.

OK, you've struck a nerve today. :)
Sue (ALL-Kids)

Anonymous said...

OMG! Kellen looks just like you in that picture!!!!

kim said...

WHOA--a deleted comment? Somebody got pissy over speling beeze? HAHAHA! Talk nosy, now I'm dying to know what got deleted. More HA!

1967. 5th grade. Last year anybody would ever call me cute (teeth and hair were the next year). Excellent speller. ALL THE WAY TO STATE, BABY!!!! Out in the first round. Hangs head.

How pathetic is it that I'm still just a little proud of being a good speller. My two claims to fame in life--spelling and shorthand. Pathetic! But, one thing we can both feel good about is that the mid-late 1960s and the early 1970s we all wore equally ugly one-piece-that-looks-like-three-separates dresses. We were all equal there.

I'd still seethe, too, Kristie!

p.s. Any word yet on the reasoning behind the handicapped symbol beside the word verification box?

Anonymous said...

From freezing cold Nebraska....my word in 5th grade was squirrel....I'll never forget...it needs 2 r's! It run's in the family, my daughter lost on bookkeeper...she'll remember 2 k's forever! Boni

Kristie said...

I don't know which is funnier, that so many people remember the exact word that eliminated *them* from their respective spelling bees, or that so many of us had the same unfortunate hairdo in the 1970's. I SO wanted to look like Farrah Fawcett from Charlies Angels, but unfortunately, looked more like Shaun Cassidy.

Ya'll crack me up. But Cindy, the school forcing your son to choose between academic brilliance and hot chicken nuggest is just wrong. Wrong and unfair.

Kim, the handicapped symbol is (I think) for blind people. When I click it, I get an audio prompt for the word verification through my speakers. Of course, that brings up the equally puzzling question of how blind people could possibly read my blog, unless their entire system was audio, but what the heck do I know?

Thank ya'll for the comments, they are the highlight of my day. Which doesn't say much for my life of domesticity, does it? Off to do a rousing load of laundry!! :)

Kristie said...

Oh, Kim, I almost forgot. The deleted comment was porn-spam. Not quite sure how it happened, since the word verification box is supposed to prevent that from happening. But it popped up mere seconds after I posted, with a "Hey, if you're over 18, you'll love my site!" so I deleted it.


Kristie said...

Oh my gosh -- did you see? Did everyone see?? In my very own comment, I spelled nuggets wrong!!!

The shame!!!!

(I'm really way too uptight about these things.)

Laura from Michigan said...

You are reading a comment from the 8th Grade Spelling Champ from Churchill Junior High. And boy, did I ever get teased about that one. And what was the prize?? Cash? A day off school? No, it was an encyclopedia. With my name written in it with magic marker. Go figure.......

Anonymous said...


Can you believe I check this website more than once a day??? What does that say about MY life of domesticity??? You crack me up. Your misspelling of nuggets was so clearly a typo, that it does NOT constitute a misspelling. No way. So, you're off the hook. Don't kid yourself...you're still the "Spelling Queen"! Typos are allowed.

OK.....now can we talk about the misuse (or non-use) of the apostrophe in contractions????? Do people not realize that "your" and "you're" are two entirely different words??!! Seriously now.
Did some people not show up to the third grade??

Oh, boy.....but I soooo abuse the multiple punctuation marks at the end of sentences!!!!!!! See??@#@!*?


jeanette said...

Love it! I am also a spelling fanatic, thank goodness for Ronny, who is like Brayden in that department. The only contest I remember winning in school was a Black History Month "bee"-for lack of a better term. Since you are so good at spelling, do you suck at math? I can spell, but Will's second grade math homework gives me the nervous sweats!

kim said...

Kristie, I just love the fact that I can ask you questions in here and you answer; I mean, I SERIOUSLY love that! I'm so relieved that the deletion was just porn pervs rather than a nastygram. Just thought I'd tell ya that. Plus, I love your blog SO MUCH. Every day I can hardly wait to see what you'll come up with next; maybe you get sick of hearing this, but I just have to say once again--you SO rock.

Thanks for all the fun!

Pamela Earley said...

My word was "raisin." Now, as a child, I ate Raisin Bran for breakfast every morning, and being the nerdy person that I was - I read the cereal box every morning too. How did I manage to have such a brain freeze?

Oh, and Kristie - I would have given my right arm to have had your hair when I was in elementary school! I have naturally curly hair - Shirley Temple type - and so coveted the feathered bangs and wings that all of my friends had. However, once the eighties hit and big hair was in, I was the queen. I could so do big hair. Unfortunately, it went out of style. :-( I can only hope it comes back soon so I can be cool again.

Pamela Nash said...

Mmm, I can feel your pain. My then 10 y.o son was THEE champion spelling bee of his school from the proir year's contest. He even went on to win first place in the regionals.
And then the next year's bee rolled around and he spelled children, "Shildren". The undefeated chamption! He was so sure he got it right that he argued with the teachers until he completely broke down and I had to check him out of school. He knew it started withe a "C" but he needed to pee and the "S" sound was in his mind. Makes sense to me. By the way, I owned stock in Aqua Net and had the feather thing on lock!!

Darcie said...

So, I am guessing my creative spelling of the word "benign" in the last message as BEGNIN was not at all amusing.

Sorry about that. I was typing really fast to try to comment before I had to go pick up kids. Can you spell T-Y-P-O? :)

By the way, that is one gorgeous dress in the photo. I think I have a similar one from when I was in fourth grade but it was blue/yellow. What were our mother's thinking?

Anonymous said...

When I was in the 4th grade I was selected to be the class' Geography Bee participant, based upon the fact that I was a huge dork. I was SO excited and so I stood up when it was my turn and they asked the question.

"What is the only U.S. state that's an island?"

Me (feeling really confident) "Rhode Island."

That's something that I'll never ever live down.


Anonymous said...

I must agree that the picture looks JUST like Kellen...unbelievable!!

cakeburnette said...

I can't spell worth a *#%!, and am eternally grateful for spell-check (too bad posts can't be spell-checked, though). Austin misspelled *character* week before last and was devastated. (I was only able to spell about 1/3 of the words, by the way.) But he felt better after reading your entry. Oh, and Shelby liked your picture. :) I wanted that hair-do so bad in elementary school, but my mother wouldn't let me cut it until I was in the 6th grade and that gigantic big mess was beginning to come into style. By the way, you are a brave woman to post elementary school pictures. My kids haven't even been allowed to see mine!

Dawn said...

I was like you. I could spell anything and was proud of it. I stayed in the seventh grade spelling bee down to the final two. My word was seize.

I said S-I-E-Z-E

Ugh! I lost. I was so ticked, I remember yelling, "what happened to i before e people? What's the use of a rule if it doesn't work?" Mostly they just laughed because I was tiny (about the size of a third grader when I was in the seventh grade and I was a gymnast so skinny too...pathetic really.) Clearly this was before learning that rules were made to be broken.

Anyway, I seethed until the spelling bee the next year. Which I won. With the word barbecue because the other final constestant actually spelled it BBQ. Oh, yes, she did!! Ha! Wonder if she even has barbecues as an adult? I wouldn't...

Mom said...

My word was slice, S-L-I-C-E, which I spelled L-I-C-E having silently spoken the S in my head. I wanted to die. I can vividly remember looking out into the audience into the face of my father who had been soooo thrilled that I had made it to the COUNTY spelling bee and seeing complete bewilderment looking back at me. Bless his heart, he never said a word but I knew in my heart he was absolutely floored that I had missed that word. I had completely buried that memory until I read your entry.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I guess I'll share my Spelling Bee moments with you as well . . . First of all, I am completely with you on this whole spelling thing . . . you and I would be great competition against each other in a Spelling Bee!! (each other - one word or two? I can never remember!!) So, as I was saying . . . I won my elementary school spelling bee against all of the other 4th - 6th graders when I was in the fourth grade, so I had the privilege of competing in the district finals, where I made it to the top three only to be eliminated by the word
M-I-N-U-T-E !! Can you believe that? A word I had probably seen a trillion times in my nine short years!! I hope my Mom, or anyone else remotely close to me, doesn't read this because frankly, more than twenty years later, they are TIRED of me dwelling on this fleeting Spelling Bee moment!!

The good news is, however, a few years ago when I was teaching (I probably shouldn't tell you that I'm a teacher because I am sure I have just finished writing this entire comment in a run-on sentence!)my school had a spelling bee for the 4th -8th graders, and afterward we had a Spelling Bee for the teachers . . . well, I redeemed myself and won the faculty Spelling Bee by knocking the 8th grade teacher out by spelling the word J-U-L-I-E-N-N-E!
Needless to say, I was the hero for the day!!

Finally, I just have to add . . . my 4th grader cannot spell for anything! It hust frustrates me to no end! If I have to look at the word "wat" (what) or "colore" one more time, I just may scream!!

Have a great day!
Roseville, Ca

Christie said...

I hate to tell you but....you have a T-Y-P-O in your post!!! I guess I'm just as obsessive about spelling as you are!! Thanks for allowing me a laugh a day!!

Melissa Kurry said...

Oh yeah, that's a flashback for me too! I was in 1st or 2nd grade and I too, was the champion of all spelling bees! The Queen Spelling Bee, if you will. There were three contestants left, me being one of them. I was so sure that I was going to be the champion, once again. When they gave me my word, I began. "Wednesday - W-E-N...". That awful damn buzzer! I was so distraught and will never EVER again forget how to spell Wednesday. To this day, when I write, type, or say it, it comes out "Wed-Nes-Day". Damn spelling bees!

Amanda (Glendale, AZ) said...

Spelling bees were my worst nightmare in school. We'd do them in class each year and I guess the winner in the class would move on to the grade level spelling bee or whatever. Anyway, I dreaded those days and was always so glad when I missed a word because there was no way I wanted to advance. My other problem (aside from being painfully shy) was that, I can't spell things outloud. I have to write them down. Even now when my husband will say, "how do you spell.." I'll have to grab a pencil and paper and write it down before I tell him. I have no idea why that is. I guess I'm just a more visual learner or something.

Anonymous said...

I love reading your entries. Funny, I won the school spelling bee and can't for the life of me remember the word I WON on. Everybody seems to remember the words they LOST on! I guess it just goes to show you than winning wasn't ALL that either. I agree that your picture is a girl-version of Kellen. Have a superb week.

Diana said...

Okay so it hasn't been that long since my spelling bee experience but I have to comment. I was SO you... could spell the pants off of everybody! I made it to the entire 5th grade level, you know, when the ENTIRE grade is sitting there watching you, and was sooo confident. Looking back I still feel that sting of "I'm sorry that's incorrect" and STILL am ticked about it. Know what my word was? Racket. Now I found that to be a trick question, because what do you know, there are TWO kinds of racket/racquet. So I infer it to mean like tennis racquet, when they mean the noise racket. Well me, being Miss Advanced, go for the fancier spelling, but did it R-A-Q-U-E-T. So there's a whole shenanigan about which one it was supposed to be, and of course I’m protesting, when to my dismay I learn that there’s a stupid, pointless C in the middle of the dang word. Too use your word, I too was S-E-E-T-H-I-N-G! So I feel your pain, and I’m right there with you (haha no really, when I read back and find an error in any of my updates it annoys me to no end, especially if it’s gone to the history and you can’t go back in fix it without a big hassle). Alright this got long and drawn out, but thanks for the trip down memory lane… one I still kick myself over! Hugs to all- have a great day!

scanmom said...

Kristie, I'm the same way about spelling and grammar, I guess I should have named that as one of my quirks....In 5th grade I came in 3rd in my class for the spelling bee... I missed the word DOUBT...I spelled it DOUGHT. How dumb was that. Then it was on to the school spelling bee, where I proudly placed 6th...Missed the word commission..only used one "s". That was dumb too. And the hair, I would have died for those feathers, but I was one of those kids with curly hair. All the old ladies in my family would say, "but you have such beautiful hair". I hated it and still do. Having 4 kids has sucked about 85% of the curl out and just left it thin and frizzy, very attractive.



KathyA (of the Lee jeans) said...

OK, Kristie, I gotta admit it - up here in North Georgia, we have spelling bees for ADULTS! Each year, the Literacy Alliance holds a spelling bee, and businesses, schools, and other organizations compete. The prize? A rocking chair!
I was on the local church team a year or so ago. Don't remember what we misspelled - the words came from the national competition that Scripps holds (where DO they get these words??) but I went home rocking chairless. It was as humiliating now as it was some forty years ago, when I competed as a 5th grader!

Anonymous said...

I so had that hair, but I've got to tell you my dress was much better! I'd also like to announce to the world that I am one of the few, the proud, the spelling bee winners. Apparently I've used up all the spelling genes in the family though since my "speshl, winnr dotr" would like me to "pleez knok" before entering her room. *sigh*

Amie in UT