When I was in fourth grade, I entered into a spelling bee at the mall where both of my parents worked, while Dad was studying to become a pastor. We kids spent lots of time on both stories, down passages where Dad walked security checks and tottering on ice skates at the indoor rink. But this contest was my big day, because I was a great speller.
It was down to three of us. I can’t even tell you if the other two were a girl and a boy or a monkey and a horse, but I was first up in the round. My sisters and brother were there, standing to the right, with my parents. The judge gave me the word: chocolate.
And I biffed it. “C-O-C-O-L-A-T-E. Chocolate.”
Immediately, my sister Kate’s face told me it was wrong. She tried to cheer me up by giving me a way to remember how to spell it: “I always remember it as Cho Co Late.” I was so mad that she was telling me afterwards, when I didn’t need the advice. I’d already lost.
That silly spelling bee and loss thrust my brain into becoming a top-notch speller. I scoffed as a high schooler when I found a package of “encildadas” in the freezer that Mom had made. I even pointed it out to her, making sure to slowly say each syllable of “enchilada” to her.
When Thing 2 was a wee thing, she had a funny way of saying certain things. “I want to hold you,” meant that she wanted to be picked up. Until she was eight, she asked for han-gur-burs. She had no interest in reading, while Thing 1 took to books like a fish to water. Thing 2 didn’t want to read, didn’t want to write and just wanted to have friends. Well, I didn’t want to be the overbearing Mom, so we had her in reading programs. Surely, it would be fixed.
Thing 2 has dyslexia (just like my mom). I’m still learning how to teach her methods, along with her teachers, on how to learn to spell and read. She makes notes like this:
BUT…God has given Thing 2 a gift. I may not understand why she cannot read and spell well, but I know that her heart is enormous:
My lesson for the day? Don’t judge a person by their spelling or grammar rules. God has given them a different gift. Even Thomas Edison’s teacher told his mother that he was defective…and he was just dyslexic.