Spelling Bee Blues for Local Moms
The performance in the Spelling Bee by a six-year-old contestant was impressive, and also brought up the questions of competitiveness among youngsters.
The mom world was buzzing again this week as we watched six-year-old Lori Anne Madison, the youngest child ever to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, lose her chance at a title.
We cried as we watched the endless video replays of little blond haired Lori Anne use an extra “e” instead of an “i” as she tried to spell her word, “ingluvies.” We worried about her emotional well being and wondered if it was even fair to allow such a young child to compete as such a high level.
Honestly, I’m not exactly how I feel about National Spelling Bee competitions for a child as young a six but I do know that we, as moms, seemed a whole lot more concerned about the whole situation than little Lori Anne did. As a matter of fact, Lori Anne seemed completely unfazed by the whole experience.
At her press conference (yes, I said a press conference featuring this six-year-old child), Lori Anne seemed relieved to be done with what she could only describe as a “really boring” event. She wore a bright yellow and black “bee hat” and, frankly, seemed very at ease with all the attention she was getting.
She expressed disappointment at having misspelled her word but, at the same time, Lori Anne told the world that she loves spelling and planned to compete again next year. She said she wasn’t the least bit nervous about the competition but was stressed out from lack of sleep and the long wait for her turn.
At six years old I can guarantee that this freelance writer and English Major would have undoubtedly collapsed under the pressure of a national spelling bee. As a matter of fact, at 46, I’m fairly certain that it would still get the best of me.
I consider it a good day if I manage to write an entire article without too many of the dreaded red spell check lines showing up and, frankly, when asked to spell a word out loud the first thing I do is reach for a pen and paper to write it down first. Dare I say that sometimes I even type it into the computer to double check myself before I commit?
Lori Anne, however, loves to spell. She seemed to truly enjoy the camaraderie with the other contestants and wasn’t particularly bothered by television cameras and media attention. She did, however, seem a bit bored by the whole situation and was anxious to get outside to play. After all, she is only six years old.
So, amidst all the hoopla and worries about Lori Anne the question really is less about the ins and outs of the national spelling bee and more about how we teach kids to cope with competition. Lets face it, just like adults, all kids are built with different limits and coping mechanisms. Some are cut out for competition and some, simple are not. Isn’t it up to parents to recognize their kids’ needs and make good decisions?
As the mother of an athlete I can honestly say that each time he walks to the pitcher’s mound, steps to the plate to bat, shoots a basketball or enters the football huddle my stress level triples. His, however, is absolutely fine. I wasn’t cut out for public competition but my son was. The type of competition that would scare me to death is like second nature to him.
I can honestly say that I don’t push him to compete. He chooses to compete and, frankly, he loves it. Sometimes, as I watch a game with my heart in my throat, I wish he was more like me but, frankly, that is much more for my sake than his.
Yes, six years old seems extremely young to be dealing with the national media but I’m not ready to condemn Scripps, the media or little Lori Anne’s parents. I’m just not ready to criticize or condemn without truly knowing the facts.
By all accounts Lori Anne seems to have enjoyed her experience and, even though she was bored silly waiting for her turn, she seems to continue to love spelling and competition. We, as moms, were heartbroken to see her fail but does that mean she shouldn’t try again?
Obviously Lori Anne has a gift for spelling that, frankly, a college degree and years of writing didn’t provide me with. If losing a competition doesn’t worry her perhaps it shouldn’t worry us either.
And, for those of you who, like me, are curious what “ingluvies” mean is it is, according to Dictionary.com, The crop, or craw, of birds.