Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Spelling Bee Blues

Our oldest was recently selected to compete in her school's spelling bee. She barely studied for the "qualifying" competition, just casually reading the words every so often. We pushed her to study a little harder, so she opted to make flash cards. And the next day we received pictures of her proudly wearing her medal around her neck at school.

Fast forward a month later (and after their holiday break) she barely studied. We even temporarily lost the sheet with the words she needed to know. The whole night before the spelling bee she kept telling us that she didn't care if she didn't win. Mostly because she was competing with 2nd and 3rd graders.

We tried to build her confidence up but not too much jus kt so she could bring in a level of competitiveness. But her attitude just seemed like she was just happy to be there with her best friend.

Every kid was dressed up in their Sunday's finest and the Monster comes rolling in wearing jeans and a Minecraft tshirt. And she didn't care one bit. The spelling bee moved quickly before the degree of difficulty picked. The Monster would casually walk up to the microphone with a smirk on her face. She held her hands behind her back and swayed back and forth, poorly concealing her nervousness.

I've only competed in the spelling bee so I never got to experience the crowd. There is a thousand times more anxiety in the crowd then with the competitors. I watched as parents mouthed the spelling of the words as their children stood up at the microphone. And with every misspelled word, came a flood of tears. There was even an official review (backed up by camera phone footage) of a child spelling their word correctly.

The Monster was eliminated on the word 'hitched' - which is a really easy word. She just didn't hear the announcer clearly - it's my fault for not going over her options. She walked off stage with a smile on her face but she was visibly upset. Despite all her pleas that she didn't think she would win and already accepting her fate - she was disappointed because she was eliminated on a word she knew how to spell but didn't know her rules.She spent the rest of the competition exclaiming at all the words she knew how to spell.

She whispered to her mother, "next year, I need to study more." I am glad she is already preparing herself. We ended up getting a celebratory dinner at her favorite restaurant - I know, we shouldn't reward for failure but she was a good sport. Some kids had to be carried out off the stage because they were so upset they can't spell.

Here's to next year and studying just a little bit more.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Little Patience Goes A Long Way

I guess it's been awhile.

My entire life as a father has consisted of two philosophies: keep my children safe and teach them everything I can. I've done a fairly good job of keeping them safe; minor exception of my youngest being attacked by a swarm of hornets or when she fell off the couch and busted her head on the fireplace - which the panicked phone call to the Wifey consisted of  "Blood. So much blood," followed by silence.

The teaching part I am still learning. There are a lot of things that I have to defer to the internet and the powers of YouTube. There are also a lot of things that I defer to their mother. Mostly because she is better at explaining things and she exudes more patience.

In my 6 years of being a dad, being patient is something I always tell my daughters to do. They need things done immediately or they want to do something at this very moment and I will always respond with a sharp "just wait!" But patience is something that instead of teaching my daughters, I should ultimately learn from them.

I should learn from my oldest daughter as she takes her time reading each and every word, ingraining the spelling into her brain. I should watch her eyes and finger trace the outline of each letter, memorizing which way the belly sticks out on the letter b or d. I need to appreciate the sloth-like reaction when I tell my youngest she needs to get out of bed as she clings onto the sheets a little tighter.

I need to take a step back and appreciate everything - I am much too quick to take away their screen time or a treat because I am not instantly gratified. Maybe it's the old Asian in me where I just have such high expectations for them to act normally and appropriately. I fail to recognize that they are acting normally and appropriately: they are just being kids. Kids scream and yell and do crazy things and speak in a weird accent. I guess I haven't realized that in the thick of things, they both just want to do right by me; it just takes them a little longer than I want.

I could learn some patience from my children. It's something I need to exercise with my wife. I am so quick to get angry or be annoyed rather than take the time to appreciate the little things that she has done for myself and for our family. She just wants to do right by me and I just need the patience to appreciate everything.

This 2017 is about taking a step back and realizing it's okay to be a little late. It's ok to be a kid and it's always okay to love a little longer.