I Bee Proud

I had the most unexpected however faaaar too overwhelming, busting with pride, parental moment yesterday. Honestly, I had no idea the day would turn out like it did. None. I told him it was just a game and when he got eliminated, he should just cheer on the rest of his friends. But, in a moment that filled me and clutched me and simply blew my mommy mind, he never actually got eliminated.

Let me start over.

At the start of the week, my 7 year old was told he had qualified to be in the Second Grade Spelling Bee. That alone made me proud. He got a certificate. How cool. The school Spelling Bee! He, of course, had no idea what a Spelling Bee was so he ignored all the fuss.

Fast forward to yesterday. I corralled my four year old and headed over to the school a little early to make it to the Spelling Bee. My husband had managed to slip out of work. I knew that getting up in front of the school and talking wouldn’t be kid’s favorite thing in the world so we thought our familiar faces might help.

As we settled onto fold-out lunch table benches in the multi-purpose room, our eldest marched in and gave us a quick self-conscious smile. He along with 14 other qualifying second graders were announced to the front of the room. Isn’t this a nice moment for them. I was proud enough right then. And I wondered how long this would take and what I was making for dinner. My husband checked his phone.

The principal began the first round. And some were eliminated. He got up, he quietly punched his words out easily enough. He watched the other kids get up. My husband saw him whisper to his friend, “That’s an easy one.” Suddenly I worried he wasn’t worried enough. And then worried about the potential for tears afterward. Maybe we should make him something special for dinner.

Another round passed, and another. They moved up to third grade words, half the kids were left now and so was he. More rounds. More correct words. He stayed, others went. Onto the fourth grade words. And suddenly there were four kids, two of which were fighting out for third place.

Wait. He was somehow one of the last two remaining. And everything changed for me. My heart leapt into my throat. My stomach knotted. My mouth was dry. My breathing slowed and then stopped. How had this happened? MY BABY WAS DOING THIS.

The word was “youth”.

The other boy started to spell. “Youth…U-E-T-H.”

The principal looked up, “No, I’m sorry, you are incorrect.” She looked at my son. “If you can spell ‘youth’, you will win the Spelling Bee. Ready?”

He nodded. And began. He looked down at the rug, his go-to concentration spot. The room was silent. “Youth. Y-O-U (…And I knew then. I knew he knew it. Because he sees that word on so much of his baseball equipment. His teacher was nodding, she knew he knew it too…)-T-H.”

“That is correct.”

And I fell apart. With cheers all around, I swooped in and gathered him into my arms. And I fell apart. Tears, hugging, “I’m so so SO proud of you, baby.” He started crying and buried himself in my sweater. Being up there HAD been hard. All of the cheering and congratulations and pictures flashing… too much. I cried – no, SOBBED – and he cried, the principal beamed, his teacher video-taped.

And there, in that very small little second grade school moment, my little boy was The Champion Of The World. HE DID IT.

Never. NEVER have I been more proud of my kid in such a sudden and unexpected moment. Should I have had more faith in my son? Maybe. He aces his spelling tests and most of the challenge words. But so do a lot of the other kids. He’s smart but I guess I’m not entirely sure if he’s unusually smart. Because is being a really good speller an indication of anything atypical? I’m not so sure. (Maybe I should find out. Anyway.)

And where were these crazy emotions coming from anyway? WHY do parents get so flipped out and weepy like I did? It is far, FAR more amazing to watch your child win something than winning that something yourself. It honestly feels better than anything in the world. What’s THAT about? Vanity? Pride? Oh my God, all those Groundhog days of “finish your homework” have actually paid off? Is it because suddenly I get some tiny nod of reassurance that, holy CRAP, I must be doing SOMETHING right.

I don’t know what all that emotion was about. But that emotion is still sitting right below, still threatening more tears right now, more than 24 hours since he won…

But he did it. HE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


And now? We’re onto the charter school’s state championship in Orlando.


My kid. My awesome, fantabulous, crazy shy, mysterious, thoughtful, careful, bird on a wire.




Oh, and we made his favorite french toast for dinner after a celebratory appetizer of slushies and tots at Sonic (his choice).

Love my boy.

Update: Turns out the second graders don’t go to the State Championship after all, only third grade and higher. The principal got caught up in the excitement and told us the wrong information. I’m disappointed for him but, as my husband says, this way he STAYS the Champion! Still. So. PROUD.


#1 Diane on 02.11.11 at 5:00 pm

Okay, it’s probably MOSTLY the pregnancy hormones here, but I totally teared up reading this. You must be so proud! (Heck, I won the 5th grade spelling bee, and I’m still totally proud of myself.)
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#2 Liz on 02.11.11 at 6:05 pm

For the record, I am NOT pregos and still teared up reading this!!! I think anyone with a heart feels your pride and love… What a beautiful moment and you painted it so well for us! Maybe it is also because I remember being kicked out of our spelling bee on the word ‘vacation’…ha ha-These are awesome memories you all will cherish forever!

#3 Tresa on 02.12.11 at 10:07 am

Oh, Caroline! I was reading and tears rolled down my face too! I know how happy and proud you must be, and congrats to all of you.

#4 Amy Rose on 04.03.11 at 11:26 pm

I too was in tears…how wonderful for you!

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