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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How Did My Mother Do It?

Yesterday, I sat through a Spelling Bee for my 3 oldest children. 

How did my mother do it?

When my brother and sisters were growing up, we were involved in sports, plays, speech competitions, office skill competitions - like shorthand and typing -  (my sister, The Idea Girl, even made it to the Nationals!).  We were in singing competitions and even pageants.  How did she do it?

I won my local "scholarship"  pageant one year. 

By the way, the girl in green is my sister, Kandilandblog and my sister, The Idea Girl is next to my mom.  Sorry about the 80's hair, but I looked good in this one! 

I remember my mom coming up on stage after the crown was placed on my head, her mascara and eyeliner were all smudged and her face was flushed.  I think she even did one of those big outloud sighs and said something like "Whew, I am sure glad that is over!!!"  I didn't understand it back then.  I get it now.  I really, really do.

When I was young, I had some minor medical issues that required some painful procedures every year or so.  I remember my dad would take off work and he and my mom would take me to the hospital.  For some reason, instead of them being in a far off waiting room, they would be close enough to hear me.  One year I remember my procedure was done and the nurse opened the door to let my parents come in - only Mom wasn't there. Just my Dad.  Through my tears I remember asking, "Where's Mom?"  He told me that she couldn't take hearing me in pain so she had to go stand way down the hall, so she couldn't hear my crying.  I didn't understand it back then.  But, now, I get it. Completely. I really, really do. 

How did she do it?

I don't mean, how did she sit through all this boring stuff her kids were involved in.

I mean, how did she not have a heart attack from watching us on the sidelines?!?!?

The Bee was a first for all my kids.  It would be their first time standing in front of a microphone spelling for a crowd.  Some of them even get nervous spelling in front of just us family members!  To be honest, I registered them for the Bee a few months ago....then kind of forgot about it.  We remembered late last week and so we began cramming the list of Scripps study words we were given.  Aren't I teaching them good life skills for when they are in college???

I started getting a little nervous for the kids.  Not bad though.

I took each child aside and gave them one of my famous, rousing, motivational speeches about how I would be proud of them no matter if they won or lost.....that I just wanted them to do their "personal" best....that this was good experience...... that they would be happy someday that they had the courage to do this....that I wanted them to be happy for their siblings if they did well....even if whichever kid was I talking to did not....blah, blah, blah! 

I got the biggest reaction in my speech about how this was a story they would tell their kids about over.....and over.....and over.....and over....just like their Dad tells them about his spelling bees....and the times he he almost made it to Washington, D.C...... and which words messed him up (maelstrom and deuce - for those of you that are interested).  In his story, he tells them how one year, after he lost, he was crying in the back seat of the car and his mom and dad stopped at the store....his mom ran in to get something and his dad turned around AND....

Now, for this story to have any impact, you have to know a little about his Dad.  He was tough.  He was a WWII vet.  He was gruff.  He softened quite a bit in his later years, but at this time, he was still rough and tough and crying from a boy was just NOT done.  Rainman will tell them how he was a little afraid as his dad turned around in the front seat AND.....

Gave him a $1 and told him how proud he was of him.  This moment of "softness" was never spoken of again.  Never!  But my husband remembers it.  I know I have a picture of him in his bow tie from this day - but I can't find it.  I will post it later if I can dig it out.  He wondered (on our way to the Bee), why our kids were dressed the way they were - because he remembers he had to wear his bow tie)  Maybe later I will tell you what my response to him was.

Anyway, I told the kids that they would have a story they could torment their kids with over and over and over too just like Dad does!  They all thought that was pretty funny.

Okay, fast forward to the Bee.  They have a Junior Bee which is for 1st through 3rd grade, so L-Girl is in this one with about 16 other kids...and then the regular Bee for 4th through 8th grade where A-Girl and D-Man compete, where there are also about 15 other kids. 

With every word, Rainman and I are get  more nervous.  I am video taping, so I have to watch, but I am sure that I am holding my breath for each word.  Rainman, on the other hand, can't even look.  He hunches over in his seat and covers his face with his hands.  At one point, he leans over to me and says, "I don't know if I can make it!"  We whisper laugh together.  Who knew this would be so stressful for us, the parents?!?!

I found myself (occasionally) wishing that other people's children would get a word wrong.  Really... it was only every now and then - because you do kind of find yourself wanting all the kids to do well.  You can see their earnest little faces scrunch up in concentration, or their gaze going skyward to the fluorescent lights, or their little eyeballs searching for their parents as they try to spell a word that they have never heard before....or worse when you see their panic when they realize that have put a letter in the wrong order and there is no going back. It is heart-wrenching.

Anyway, L-Girl got 3rd Place!!!

She was doing really well and was whizzing along and then she whizzed a little too quickly at the word - plural - she said, "P-u......(insert slightly panicky look to the ceiling - deep breath because she knows she has made a mistake and cannot go back).....u-r-a-l.  Plural."

D-Man and A-Girl didn't place in their Bee, but they both did awesome.  They were knocked out by the words "Indelible" for D-Man.  A word he had never heard of.  He spelled it, "I-n-d-e-l-a-b-l-e" and A-Girl was knocked out by "Enormous".  She spelled it, "E-n-o-u-r-m-o-s" with the "U" in the wrong spot.

Some of these homeschool kids are really, really, smart, and, I bet their moms didn't forget about the Bee and have them try to cram a bunch of words into their weekend!!!

All of the participants received a ticket for a free buffet at CiCi's Pizza, so we took advantage of that last night to celebrate.  I think, maybe, just maybe, my blood pressure is back down to normal today.

This event makes me think of two sayings....

Once you have children, you wear your heart on the outside of your body.

And, this one is for you, mom....

The older I get, the smarter my mom gets!!!

I get it now.  I really, really do! 

If my kids are in pain, and if I can't be there physically holding their hand, I will be found as far down the hall as I can get, so I don't hear their painful cries either. 

I am also sure that there will soon be pictures of me with my make-up running, my face flushed...I will probably be clutching my chest in some fashion and I will have a proud look on my face, because, quite frankly, my kids are awesome!


RKO Ideas Galore (by Karen) said...

Congrat L! Good job D&A...competition is nerve-wracking.

Troy Klevgard said...

My Brother has told me that he never knew how fun a High School basketball game could be until he watched one after his boys had graduated. I understand this completely!

Jill said...

Congrats to L and well done, D&A. This was a beautiful story for all of us Mom's. We all know what you mean. Thank you for sharing.

Jill said...

By the were and still are SO BEAUTIFUL!

Kayla said...

Competition is nerve wracking - just on a totally new level now that I am a parent!!! Troy, tell your brother I get it now....I really do! And, Jill, thanks! Sometimes I look back at pictures and don't even see a shred of "me" anymore, if that makes thanks A LOT!

Kandi said...

1. So first of all, look at Dad's big paw holding me in the picture...I must've been a little "high" on the moment and jumping around b/c he looks like he's really restraining me in that one!

2. Congratulations, kids! You did wonderful and I'm so proud of you all. I made it to a spelling bee one time and I am sad to say I chickened out and didn't even participate. It's one of my great regrets to this day. It takes courage to get up and put yourself out there and you did great!

3. Mom, it's true. You are always so supportive even though you'd be more nervous than us sometimes. And my favorite is when you'd say "I'd just get up there and sing nice and loud and not even be nervous!" You are a smart lady! :)

Love this post, Kayla!