Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Alex's Lesson In Disappointment



Song:  Before The Last Leaf Falls

Artist:  David Lanz




The County Spelling Bee at the University of Nevada - Reno campus.

Alex had taken first place for his grade in his school...
and so he was representing his school at the County level.




The initial stage of the spelling bee.
This year there were far fewer contestants.
This was the 75 word written portion.



The boy in the middle got first place and will advance to the State Finals.
The girl to his right got second...
and the girl sitting to her right had gotten third.

This was the oral test.
There were only 6 contestants from the 8th grade.

The big disappointment Alex had felt was because he was the first one to be asked 
a word...and it was an easy word...however, it was a dual meaning word.

Alex should have asked for the definition to distinguish between the two.

Instead, Alex, not thinking...immediately spelled out the word "sleight".
He was thinking of sleight as in sleight of hand... 
without considering the other possible meaning.

Although Alex had spelled it correctly....the word was the other meaning "slight"...
and so Alex was out of the running.

Alex was further disappointed because after listening to the words of all of the other 
contestants...he felt he could have won.

However, the asking for the word in a sentence or the asking for the definition
is part of the contest.  Alex had failed to ask for either...
he just immediately launched into the spelling of the word.

Alex had tears running down his cheeks and he had felt so bad for 
not thinking to ask for the definition.

We went out for lunch right afterwards...
and he was still feeling low...
but I pulled out a sports metaphor from my daddy hat.

I had explained that the more often a batter goes to the plate...
the more often he will strike out.
However, it also means that he will get on base more often...
and that he will more often have home runs.

The important thing is to go to the plate in life...
and if you must go down...
you go down swinging.

This made him feel better...
and we ate...
and we dropped him back off at school.


Alex has two other contests in the next two weeks...
both of them are in his strong area...
Math.

Although I think he will try extra hard in the next two contests
because he will feel he has to make up for his failure at the Spelling Bee...
he really has nothing to make up...
he had gone to the plate and had struck out swinging.

I know Alex feels especially bad because this was one of the very few failures 
at anything he has tried in life...
but as we had explained to him...
coping with disappointment in life is one of the very necessary life skills
in which he must master.

I told him that I was glad that he had felt so disappointed
because it meant that he had put his heart into it
(far better than apathy).

However, we told him that he must learn to not show it...
and even better, to use it as a lesson learned...
(to not make hasty decisions...but to take his time and carefully consider first)
and to use his failures as fuel for his future studies and competitions
so he may study even more fervently...
and so he may feel his future victories even more intensely.


I also told Alex that it was also my fault.
I had been practicing his words with him at home...
and I had neglected to have him ask me for clarification
on dual meaning words.  I had instead, immediately given the meaning
after I had said the word.

I should have realized that I had inadvertently handicapped him from the beginning.

I had forgotten how the Spelling Bee worked on the oral portion...
and I had incorrectly assumed that they would automatically give
each word in a sentence as they do on the written portion.

I know more than most that the way you train...is the way you perform.

I must be very diligent in the future in knowing the rules of the contest fully...
and well ahead of time, so I may train Alex more correctly.

Although Alex had initially felt very disappointed...
by the time he got back to his school...he felt much better.
I think he is now even more hungry for future competitions.

Alex is looking forward to going back to the plate.

BATTER UP!  :)













2 comments:

  1. I think it was particularly difficult for Alex to experience this disappointment because he so rarely falls short of his challenging goals. Yet, learning to handle disappointment is an important part of life, so this will be a good learning experience for Alex. And I have no doubt that he will excel in the upcoming math contests.

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  2. Alex quickly rebounds from any negative experiences in life. He knows that he will have many times up to bat in life. He just looks forward to doing well in his next contest. He just felt so disappointed in making such a simple mistake. I think this will let him know that he needs to slow his speed down and to be more cautious in his approach to problems of all sorts. Even when he makes errors in his math, often times he already knows how to solve them, he just hadn't read what the problem was asking of him. He calculates so quickly that he does things in his head...so he will read just enough of a word problem to get what he thought the answer should have been, only to realize that the wording was asking him for a different calculation.

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