say it, spell it, say it again

For the dVerse Monday quadrille prompt “casting a poetic spell“:


Waist high and terrified
they approach the microphone
and await their word;
enunciated and exemplified.

We wait,
no one breathing,
as they say it,
spell it,
say it again.

Then sigh in shared sorrow
or breathe out in shared relief,
whoever’s child it is.


Years ago one of my sons made it to the NSW state spelling bee final. My proudest mum-moment was at the end of the regional finals when he got a second word after stuffing up a first, and then the only other remaining contestant stuffed hers and didn’t get a second chance.  He was declared the winner. And he went and told the judge that the other contestant should have had a second chance too. I know he reads my blog sometimes, and I hope he knows how proud he makes me, not just that day, but always. 

But on the whole I dislike spelling bees. The poor kids looked so tiny and so frightened, and it was painful watching any of them when they got a word wrong and their little faces crumpled no matter how stoic they tried to be.  I think every parent felt that, based on the collective sigh of sorrow whenever any child went out.  


Filed under poem

24 responses to “say it, spell it, say it again

  1. Sounds like an early introduction to stress!

  2. So happy for your lovely son. What a real winner.
    I’ve always loved words. Took part in many spelling bees back in the day. BUT, to the disappointment and dismay of my parents (I could have earned me a scholarship) I never won one: the thought of being the only one standing on that stage was terrifying to me. I stayed on as long as I could endure it and misspelled on purpose when prospects got too close. Too shy, too shy, too shy. I am so proud of your son. Thanks for the fun post. I love it.

    • Oh Selma, that must have been so scary that you misspelled words on purpose!
      We didn’t have them when I was a kid fortunately. They’re not really a thing in Australia. I was good at spelling, but there’s no way I could have stood on a stage and spelled anything. Like you, too shy…

  3. take us then to tomorrow
    devoid of sorrow
    pause rewind
    please remember to be kind~

  4. It is so wonderful to see our children reflecting the values we taught them. Good for your son. You should be very proud.

  5. Yes, totally. Watching your child performing publicly is such a tense experience. I echo Dwight’s comments – you know you’re doing something right when your children demonstrate such commendable behaviour.

  6. sanaarizvi

    Oh my heart this is so moving! Yes, it can be stressful for children so young .. a great response to the prompt, Kate ❤️❤️

  7. So much pressure and tension in those moments. So proud of these kids, specially your son.

  8. I have never understood the rationale behind these spelling contests.

  9. This is a good write Kate…….

  10. Congratulations to your son and you. Kate, love to read, what you write. Sometimes, I wonder, if children need to suffer competition of any kind.

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