Although I have three children in the same grade at the same school, they've rarely been put in situations of direct academic competition with one another. We don't let them see report cards or standardized test reports. They are attune to the fact that they are gifted with different strengths and weaknesses, both in and out of the classroom, but thankfully there have been few truly quantitative comparisons.
In light of all this, you can imagine my butterflies over the announcement last week of a second grade spelling bee. P is a naturally gifted speller, K a good student who loves a challenge and R is an uber competitive kid with spelling difficulties.
The words were distributed Thursday and hours were spent in the car studying over the weekend. P was fairly nonchalant in his preparation because "I am a good speller." K had a voracious appetite for practice. R tried to match her and wound up throwing a huge fit of frustration.
Throughout the day today I couldn't help but wonder how things were going. This afternoon I learned the outcome. To my surprise, P, the 'naturally' good speller, didn't make the cut. Meanwhile, K & R were each in the top three in their respective classes--advancing to the final round tomorrow. Though disappointed, P was a great sport about it all and even concluded that "sometimes you just need to slow down and take you time."
K & R will go head to head in a group of six in the finals tomorrow. There's been a lot more studying tonight. At bedtime K was giddy and R grew quiet. As I kissed him goodnight he confessed, "Mom, I am feeling nervous about the spelling bee tomorrow."
When I asked if he wanted to pray about it his response was priceless:
"No, because today during the class spelling bee I kept praying 'God, please don't let me get reindeer, please don't let me get reindeer' and I got reindeer! But then I got it right and prayed again, 'Thank you for letting me spell reindeer, thank you for letting me spell reindeer..."
I was too busy trying to stifle my giggles to close the loop on a lesson in the moment--but I have spent a lot of time pondering it tonight. How often I am like my boy, praying God will allow me to simply avoid challenges only to find that He would have me go right through them.
I love that R thought to be grateful to God for his success, but was struck by the fact that it still left him hesitant to involve God again...who knows what word He may hurl at him next. (I can SO identify.)
As my friend Jean commented when I shared this story, "God is more concerned with our character than our comfort." I find this truth consoling and intimidating! God doesn't always give us what we want, but rather what we need. It's stretching and scary--but ultimately it is good.
Such treasures from the mouths of these babes--and the fact that they are also frequently entertaining is just an added bonus!