Can You Spell “Obnoxious”?

Last Friday I was waiting for The Torturer in a little private room at Physical Therapy.  Dweeb spent some time with me first.  Dweeb is what they call a "tech" (assistant).  Dweeb turned the TV on in my room because he couldn't bare to miss a minute of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  Then Dweeb began a 20 minute treatment on my non-functioning arm while we watched the spelling bee and laughed.  Yes, we laughed at children.  Dweeb and I are headed straight for hell.

I never knew a spelling bee could be so funny (and no, I wasn't on pain meds).  We watched as the 44 semi-finalists were narrowed down to 12 remaining finalists.  This was serious stuff and we watched the anguish and joy as they tried to spell.  Words such as "etagere", "canicular", "solidungulate", and "allotriophagy" were attempted by kids as young as 10.  Two hundred and eighty eight competitors began the contest.  Friday evening the sole winner received $35,000 with an additional $5,000 of prizes. 

Emotion was high during the competition which is why we found it so amusing.  How worked up can you get about the word "secernent"?  Personally, I can't get worked up about it at all.  How about you? 

I felt bad for the kids who were clearly quite stressed out.  When a child was eliminated (by the ring of a small desk bell) they were ushered to "The Comfort Room".  The Comfort Room is where, presumably, they can cry far from the glare of network cameras.  Yes, a place to sob inconsolably over a word such as "solidungulate".  Let me repeat just part of that sentence:  A place to sob inconsolably over a word.  If a child passed a round they would jump up and down and pump their arms with joy and exhiliration.  This was their big moment in the spotlight.  (Don't you just picture them telling their grandchildren someday:  "And then I spelled 'ludicrous' correctly at only age 10?")   

Watching the parents was the highlight for me.  They were comical.  Dweeb joked that they already had cruises booked with the cash they expected their kids to bring in.  The parents were intense!  I don't mean to be judgmental … well, yes, I actually do.  It was like watching the proverbial "stage mom" (or dad), but worse.  The visible disappointment with their child when a mistake was made must have left permanent emotional scars for those kids.  I mean … oh my GAWD, how could MY kid have left one letter out of the word "allotriophagy"?  Especially when I packed him a "30,000 word briefcase" to study while we traveled to this event?  No dessert for Tommy after THAT disappointment!  Kids can be such let-downs sometimes.

I realize some people are naturally great spellers.  I was always winning classroom spelling bees in elementary school (a zillion years ago).  I inhale books at record speed and words … words are a part of who I am.  I am not knocking spellers, intelligence, or kids pursuing whatever their passion might be.  But parents get a grip!  Nothing in your child's life (or yours) is going to be dramatically changed by you force feeding them a dictionary every night at dinner.  Also, what happens when these same kids hit their teens and decide to rebel?  Perhaps by pursuing math or something horrifying like that? 

It's just a random thought on my part, but a child might be better served if parents helped them to become a well balanced individual.  Maybe throw in some physical activity with those spelling words.  It doesn't mean they have to be an athlete, but the majority of the spelling bee contestants looked like social outcasts.  Is there anything wrong with being intelligent and also having a decent haircut?  Or maybe no facial hair for the girls?  Or perhaps even getting rid of the unsightly unibrow?   

There is an epidemic of parents out there who know their kid is THEE smartest, prettiest, most athletic, or WHATEVER … but!  Those parents at the spelling bee were unquestioningly living vicariously through their kids.  Or maybe Dweeb is right.  Maybe they were just watching their vacation dollars go down the drain.          



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