I was always good at spelling. Very good! And what a life raft on the sea of Catholic elementary education that skill proved to be for me, to whom early instinct registered "i before e except after c" inside my third grade head. Had no eighth commandment admonishment on the delivery of falsehood accompanied my talent, I truly think I'd dare to say today that spell check itself was invented by "Miss Smarty Pants" - me!
Those school days were like none other....a roller coaster ride fraught with peril that ensured a moment's warming bask beneath the beaming gaze of a no-nonsense nun evaporated the second math books were opened. Ecstasy to agony. A leper without a colony. One who breathed the litany of the saints in prayerful hope of not being called upon for an answer she never had. The sweetest sound inside those rooms was sister's flustered sigh, "All right, (insert boy's name here) tell them the answer!" Whew! Safe for another day!
You'll never see me sponsoring a family Math-a-thon. Forget it. But a spelling bee? Let me at 'em! With the grandkids as my competent assistants, I pulled one off very successfully last Sunday afternoon for grandpa, our three daughters, and their husbands.
First step - Compile a list of dictionary words - not too easy, not too hard. Print them out. Figure on 10 words per person....less if you'll be serving beer or wine!
Secondly - For as long as it lasts, have grandkids pull words. Get them used to the idea that someday they'll be doing the spelling while today's contestants toss words to them!
Thirdly - When spellers "buzz out," have kids deliver a consolation prize of a bagged and beribboned cookie to take away some of the sting of "bee-ing" a loser.
Use a 4" Easter egg cutter for body and a 1.5" spice bottle cap for wings. Cut shapes from rolled sugar cookie dough. Cut circles in half.
Bake, cool, then dip wings in Royal icing. Divide icing. Tint half yellow. Frost bodies, leaving area on pointed end for head. Tint remaining icing black. Pipe head. Place sugar eyes immediately on top. Pipe stripes. Lay wings immediately on top.
Finally - Provide a grand prize to the Queen Bee -
or King Bee!
The winner's prize bag was decorated with a hand made "Champ-bee-un!" medal. Inside was a little hive of honey, a handful of cookies, a bumblebee notepad, and a gift card.
The results, in order of elimination:
1. Uncle Keenon? Well, not a very consistent speller!
2. Send Uncle Joe a memorandum! He needs to learn how to spell that word!
3. Aunt Christy couldn't handle syllable. Thought the word had far more than three of them!
4. I hope buzzing out on indelible doesn't leave a permanent mark on Mary Jo's spelling confidence!
5. Uncle Tom went out for a ride on equestrian. But!........
6. When Aunt Karen contracted a case of tuberculosis, the diagnosis was a sudden death playoff between her and Tom......
7. Which ended in a lopsided victory for him when Karen subbed a "b" for the "p" in that word!
|L to R the buzzing bees of Bree, Nick, and Sae|
One more thing! To commemorate the event, each grandkid hand made a framed collage/potato print for use as a raffle prize. They sold their own tickets to eager customers, pulled winning names, and awarded prizes at contest's end
I sometimes reflect on early days of my education as described above. I weigh the benefits versus the cost to me in anxiety expended. Thanks to the good sisters, I have never (NEVER!) been late for a single appointment of any kind throughout my entire life. But I have an insufferable need to compete and win, sometimes at unpleasant cost. That obsession is matched with not only wanting things done right, but having them done right my way. I suppose the sisters believed they finished well with me, yet I'm not sure I endorse all of the methods they employed. Still....part of me often wanders into the territory of speculating outcomes for education today if nuns were allowed to greet students at the door, cheerfully relieving them of contraband with a hearty, "God Bless You, dear child!" and not a care in the world for the wrath of salivating lawyers. How evident might those results bee (oops! I mean "be!") at family spelling gatherings?
Any thoughts?......Just mind your spelling, young lady!