You know how they say you learn something new every day? Here’s my big one for today.
Claire told us yesterday that her class was preparing to have an in-class spelling bee, which would determine who from their class would move on to the next round of the spelling bee. I was pumped for her and immediately whooped and put my hand up for a high five.
“I’m not doing it.”
Confused, I slowly put my hand down. Claire is like every other human in the world: a complicated mix of exceptional talents and flaws. But, by far, her super power is words. From a very young age, words just made sense to her. She can spell hard words she’s never seen before because she has a rich understanding of how our language uses sounds. She can take what she knows from one word and apply it to another based on the sounds. In other words, she’d totally nail the spelling bee. It’s meant for kids that just get words. It’s meant for kids like her. But not actually her.
I tried to ease my way into convincing her to do it. She hates being in the spotlight, so I thought fear of winning was preventing her from taking her rightful place as Spelling Queen Bee. We talked about it a bit. She crushed a few of the practice words before moving on to the rest of our evening.
This afternoon, I asked her how it went.
She told me that each student had the chance to spell a word. If they missed it, they sat down. The last person standing would be the class winner. They did that process twice, so there were two people from their class moving on to the next level. Both rounds, she was one of three people standing.
I was sitting on the edge of my figurative seat waiting to hear if she overcame her fear.
“I purposely misspelled words during both rounds.”
“How come? Were you afraid of what it would be like to get up in front of more people to do it again?”
“No, I wasn’t afraid. I just don’t need to prove I’m a good speller. When you’re really good at something, you don’t have to talk about it. I know I’m good at spelling — I don’t need a contest to say that I am.”
Did my 9-year-old just tell me that she doesn’t need external validation to feel good about herself?? Put a fork in me. I’m done. I just finished parenting. Princess Peach = saved.
Just kidding, of course. She also fell to the floor last night after being told it was time for bed and then crawled up the stairs like her legs were broken, moaning the whole way. I still have many, many levels left to go before saving that princess.
But, in all seriousness, I’m SO proud of her thought process. Anxiety still likely played a role (even a small one) in her decision to throw the match, but I love that the message she was telling herself was that she’s in charge of how she feels about herself.
There’s nothing wrong with others recognizing your talents. External validation isn’t a bad thing, just as long as the internal validation is there, too.
Watching her nail the spelling bee is nothing compared to watching her nail these self-discoveries.