Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Municipal Genius

I'm a proud mama.

(Not that I'm not normally a proud mama. I just hate to give praise for everything my kids do. "Way to convert oxygen into carbon dioxide, honey!" You know what happens to those kids? They become pain-in-the-ass adults who think they need to be rewarded for every little thing they do, and when they don't get it because it's the real world they become depressed, attention-seeking narcissists. Come on, you all know someone like this.)

Larry Potter won the district spelling bee last Thursday. He gets to advance to the regional spelling bee in January. And, if you hear him tell it, ONCE he wins that, he goes to the state competition. And from there, he goes to Washington, D.C. where he will win the Scripp's Spelling Bee and be famous.

No, my son doesn't have a big head at all.

It was nice to watch this feat. There were 43 contestants, all fourth and fifth-graders. LP was number 43, so every time he spelled a word correctly, the round was over and a new round began. The look on his face when he realized he was in the last two was absolutely priceless, and I wish now I had taken a picture of it.

When practicing for the bee, I asked him to spell "genius." He gave me a shit-eating grin and spelled his own name. ::sigh:: I shared this on Facebook. At the bee, he was one word away from having to spell that very word. His teacher and I exchanged glances when the next person in line got the word. (His teacher knows all about LP's ego. At the beginning of the year, he told her that she wouldn't be able to find a spelling word he didn't know. A proud moment for any parent, I assure you.)

LP isn't an athlete. Sure, he takes karate and likes to play soccer in the fall, but we knew when he was a baby that athletics would probably not be his calling in life. He used to fall over on the rocking horse, and later, a tricycle. He didn't learn to walk until he was 16 months old. He's been hit in the face more times with a ball than I care to remember, and once when I asked if he wanted to go out for pee-wee football, looked at me like if I just asked him to go re-shingle my roof.

But from a young age, I knew spelling bees would be his scene. Back when I was a reporter, I had to cover this very competition. In my story, I wrote the word with which the final contestant won the bee. I went home and asked LP if he could spell the word (I don't remember what it was). He was three. And yes, he spelled it correctly.

I stole this from the newspaper website. This is LP spelling at the bee. I'm so glad he wore a clean shirt that day.

He has been patiently waiting for fourth grade so he could participate. And secretly, I've been waiting along with him. Every parent wants their child to feel personal success, and though LP has always been bright and gotten good grades, I knew he needed something slightly competitive. Any competition he's been in has always been athletic, and let's just say he doesn't feel great when he's through.

I was nervous for him at the bee. Every time he was up, I held my breath. When it came down to him and the last girl, my heart about beat out of my chest.

For the last two contestants, it's a sudden death situation. If the person spelling the word gets it wrong, the other person has a chance to spell it right. If the second person spells it wrong, nothing happens and they move on.

One of the words the other contestant had was "municipal." She got it wrong. LP, in his big-headed glory got up to the mic and proceeded to tell the official that he didn't need the definition again, because "I'm pretty sure I can spell THAT word."  (Remember folks, Disgruntled Husband won the election for Municipal Judge earlier this year.)

And then Mr. Cocky spelled it wrong.

In the end, he won with the word "adequate," which I found fitting.

He now has 6 weeks to study for the regional bee, which I'm sure will be more cocky moments for me shudder at.

But for now, I'm proud of my son for his accomplishment. He got an enthusiastic round of applause from his class that day, his name on the announcements the next, and his picture in the newspaper.

He's pretty proud of himself, too.


  1. Way to go Larry Potter!! I feel a perhaps unnatural amount of joy hearing a story about a nerdy kid who is bad at sports coming out on top.

    And the aptly-timed words "municipal" and "adequate" just lend poetry to the whole story. :)

  2. This was a fun post to read. My eldest, whom you know shares the same first name as yours, is also an exceptional speller in first grade. We'll see if this goes anywhere later... athletic competitions won't be his bag either most likely. Nicely done LP!