Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Bell of Shame

Everyone has seen Akeelah and the Bee right? It's a great movie about an inner city youth who goes on to win the Scripps Spelling Bee. When a speller gets a wrong answer there is no empathetic "ooh so sorry you missed" it's a shrill "ding" and the speller takes the long walk of shame to the chairs to watch the rest of the bee internally beating themselves up over their errant spelling.

Tommy's latest endeavor...you guessed it the spelling bee. It was the Catholic's vs. the Lutherans as two local schools came to our gym showcasing local 3rd and 4th graders in the annual parochial spelling bee.

We studied a bit, probably not as much as we should but I was confident that young Thomas would fare well though he probably wouldn't win. He did do well, for a long time there were about 8 students who were all looking great, after a while it was down to four and Tommy was still in. It was looking like a possibility that he could go all the way. They threw homonyms at him left and right, words like weigh, pare, etc. and he cleverly asked for a sentence and would quickly spell the word correctly. During our "trainings" Joe had urged him to ask for a sentence for every stinking word, even if it was obvious what the word was with no double meanings. He scoffed at that deal and said "only for homonyms, I don't want to be annoying." And that my friends was his undoing. On and on the final four are going when the spell master gives him the word "piece" and he immediately starts spelling "p-e-a-c-e" and just like that "DING" and the crowd moans. It was all over. He gasped, then threw his hands in the air, looked up to the heavens and took his walk of shame. He had gotten overconfident and didn't ask for a stinking sentence. And we had practiced that one too.

Oh well it's all good and well. And it was nice that our little neighbor girl won it all. She is a sweet little thing and wouldn't you know it, she asked for a sentence for every single word she was given. Nice strategy which may have saved Tommy, I wonder if he'll follow her suit next year and ask for a sentence at every word. Her brother won the 4th grade bee as well. Smart little cookies. And honestly, little Amber knew every single word on that list; Tommy not so much.

The final chapter in this excellent story is just knowing who the bell ringer was. Any guesses? Oh yeah, it was me. And I tell you what I felt very bad ringing that bell for all those poor kids. I think it's a little harsh but I guess it's the way things are done in the big bees so why not give them a taste of that agony as 8 and 9 year olds.

Poor Tommy, he will never forget that piece/peace was his undoing in the 3rd grade spelling bee. Just like I will never forget in 2nd grade it was down to me and one other dude and they went to 3rd grade words and I got out on freeze leaving off the last "e." And just like Joe and "cotten/cotton" in his 4th grade bee. Thankfully he didn't take it too hard and was happy that Amber & Aaron won. However in the few hours afterward he had no peace over his inaccurate piece of spelling work.

8 comments:

Kiera Beth said...

Ah Tommy.. That is a rough way to go. Do give him a pat on the back and let him know congratulations from a complete stranger in Minnesota. That is very impressive to make it that far :)

Nice work to you on the bell also. As hard as it was, I agree with you that you give them a feel of how it is done in the big bees!

ellen :) said...

Congrats on making it to the top 4, Tommy! :) Way to go!

Renee said...

Way to go Tommy on getting to the last 4! That is great.

Dawn said...

Thanks girls! I'll give him some cyber fives tomorrow from you.

Amy said...

Oh, I missed this one! Yipee, way to go Tommy!!! I am such a geek. I love spelling bees. Is that how you spell it? Obviously, I never won one.

Sheila said...

Great story! Congrats to Tommy on making it so far!

Dawn said...

Thanks Amy & Sheila.

Jill said...

That is to bad. I can't believe you dung him out!