Micah, my 9-year-old-son, had barely gotten into the van last week after school when he blurted out, “They had the spelling bee tryouts today to go to districts and I didn’t make it.”
What?! Not sending my son to the district spelling bee? Oh, no you didn’t. Micah had WON the district spelling bee two years in a row! And the previous year’s winner had always gotten an automatic qualification the next year. I could smell the injustice.
I put on my "Crazed Stage Mom" hat, parked the car and marched into the school. My son not making the spelling bee?! Ludicrous, I tell you!
I wanted an explanation. A mom on a mission can be a frightening thing. I finally found a school official who explained that it’s the teacher’s choice whether or not to automatically send last year’s winner. It was not an official "rule." Micah’s teacher chose to make him re-qualify and he didn’t. It was as simple as that.
After my heart rate returned to normal and I regained my senses, this mom discovered something rather disturbing about herself. I wasn’t just disappointed for Micah (who was taking it far better than I was, I might add). I was more disappointed for me. Yikes. A part of me enjoyed the “reflected glory,” being the mom of the “smartest” kid.
I asked myself, "Who’s more invested in this, him or me?"
To channel a little Carly Simon, “I’m so vain. I probably think this Bee is about me.”
Encouraging and being proud of our kids’ accomplishments is one thing. Tying even a small part of our self-esteem to them is quite another.
I rebounded and told Micah I was proud of the boy he was – Bee or no Bee. And that I was impressed with his mature reaction to the disappointment. (Don’t you hate it when your kid is the grownup?)
Hopefully, I’ll deal with my issues before next month’s Math Olympics. If not, it could spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E.
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