Thursday, January 7, 2010

How do YOU spell beautiful?

When I left the house this morning I wasn't expecting to receive such a blessing. I think that kind of blessing is best -- the completely unexpected one.

This morning was Parkway Elementary's All-School Spelling Bee. Kate had come home a few weeks ago with a letter from her teacher stating that she had "earned the privilege of participating" in the annual event. Attached was a list of 225 words that they would use in the competition. We worked with Kate on the words, but also told her that the majority of the studying would be left to her. (After all, in the end it was only she who could stand up there, right?) We impressed upon her the importance of studying AND the importance of keeping track of the list of words.

Anybody who knows this kid knows that she's uh, well, how to say this? uh, less than careful about keeping track of her things. Okay, the kid is horrible at it. It's almost a weekly occurrence that she loses something of importance and/or value, i.e. her retainer, her ipod, her Nintendo DS, her homework, articles of clothing -- I could go on.

When we left over Christmas break I took the list with, in my handbag, so that she could study on the 18+ hour round-trip. I handed it to her IN THE CAR, on the WAY HOME and guess what? Yep, she lost it. Somewhere in the fifty feet from the car to the house it disappeared into oblivion. So there for a few days she couldn't study. Not that it would have happened anyway, because she's also a procrastinator.

Crunch time came and she kicked it into high gear. She spent hours pouring over that list and having herself quizzed by one of us.

Two days before the competition she came to me crying and confessed that she didn't even WANT to compete. She was afraid of getting up in front of the entire school. She's kind of a shy kid that way. I comforted her and told her that she was under no obligation to compete, and that if she really didn't want to she didn't have to. It was completely up to her. "Think about it," I told her, "and get back to me when you've made a decision."

The next morning she told me she wanted to do it, and so we resumed the studying.

So this morning I drove up to the school, parked the car & found a seat in the cafeteria. I found her on the stage and gave her a smile and a wave. And then it hit me. I was consumed with anxiety for my little girl -- sweaty palms, upset stomach, the works. I wondered if she could do it -- could she really stand on that stage, look out upon the entire audience and keep herself composed and think clearly enough to spell a word correctly?

The Bee commenced and one by one the children stood and spelled their assigned word. I was surprised by the number of children who spelled theirs incorrectly and had to walk off the stage. Kate was number 27 of 29 spellers. When her turn came she marched to the front of the stage with a big smile on her face and spelled trick. T - R - I - C - K. Trick.

Round 2. More children heard the dreaded *Ding* indicating a misspelling. I thought to myself how absolutely heartbreaking it was at that moment when their little faces change from hope to despair. A lot of them would stare blankly as they walked away, I'm sure in disbelief that it was over. Some of them would kind of stomp off in an angry way.

Kate's turn again. Commentator: "The word is Beautiful". Kate, still smiling: "Beautiful. B - E -A - U - T - A - F - U - L. Beautiful. *Ding*

Her eyes locked on mine the entire way down the stairs and across the cafeteria. The smile on her face never faltered. In that moment when I really expected her to tear up or start crying I was almost startled to realize that her facial expression never changed. Wow.

And then suddenly there were two children left on the stage. One of them is Kate's dear friend Jaquelyn. Jaquelyn and Kate are pretty much inseparable during the school day. Academically they're pretty well matched, two of the brightest in their class. They were science fair partners. They also attend tutoring every Wednesday afternoon, as a way to challenge them above and beyond what their classmates are learning.

The next fifteen minutes were a dual between Jacquelyn and a 3rd grade boy. Back and forth they went, but in the end it was Jacquelyn who came out victorious.

As I stood and turned to find Kate I saw once more that the smile hadn't faded from her freckled face. She ran past me to congratulate Jacquelyn with a hug. Returning to find me she said, "Mom, I'm so happy for Jacquelyn!"

Wow. Again. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love my friends, but I have to admit that there's also this competitive side to me that gets a little green when they are the winner and I am the -- well, I'm the one who doesn't win.

I've stated in this blog before that I pray for my girls every day. I mostly pray the same repetitive prayer, which goes "Lord, I pray for wisdom for my girls. Wisdom like that of Solomon -- a wisdom that encompasses EVERY part of their life, that will serve them well and lead them through any circumstance. And Lord I pray for a heart like that of David's, a heart that cries out for an intimate relationship with You. A heart that beats to praise you. A heart that is content with NOTHING less. And Father I pray for FRIENDSHIPS like that of David and Jonathan or Ruth and Naomi. Friendships that are good and strong. I pray that they are the kind of friend that will stand beside their friends no matter what. And I pray for friends who would do the same."

So the blessing came as I drove away, Kate's "Certificate of Participation" lying in the seat next to me. I was in awe of a Lord who hears that repetitive prayer of mine -- that prayer that is formed in less than eloquent words by a less than superior mind. But he hears it. And he listens to it. And he acts upon it. The blessing is found in realizing a prayer that is answered.

She may not have won the Parkway Elementary All-School Spelling Bee, but she is far from being a loser. In my eyes, and in the Lord's eyes, she is beautiful. B -E - A - U - T - I - F - U - L.


Anonymous said...

BEAUTIFUL! Congratulations to Kate, and to you, and Paul, doing a great job raising kids that have faith in their lives! May God bless you all!! Great job all 'round! Love you! Mom

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