Category Archives: Nervous Mama

Spelling B-e-e

When I was in the first grade, I was the only kid in my class who spelled “horse” correctly on a spelling test.  Everyone else spelled it like “house” so it came out like this: “hourse.”  As a result of this early (and brief) spelling brilliance, I was selected to represent my class in the school-wide spelling bee.

On the day of the spelling bee, I stood on stage in the auditorium/gym/cafeteria in front of the entire school, including students, teachers, administrators, janitors, the Mayor (well, maybe not the mayor), and the local media (well, maybe not them either).  In any case, there were a lot of people from my six-year-old vantage point.  I don’t remember if I was nervous, but if I were asked to participate in a spelling bee today I’d be petrified, so I’m guessing I had a few butterflies in my stomach.

When it was my turn, I stepped up to the microphone and the judges gave me my first word: “I.”  Yes, that’s right.  My word was “I.”  My word had one letter.  I don’t recall how they used “I” in a sentence, but it was probably something like this: “I like ice cream.”  Or, “I can spell.”

I took a deep breath and said, “I,” and then – are you sitting down? – I was eliminated from the spelling bee.  Why, you ask?  Because I didn’t say “Capital I.”  I quickly left the stage, sat down on the auditorium/gym/cafeteria floor surrounded by my “hourse” spelling classmates, and felt like a hourse’s ass for getting eliminated from a spelling bee for misspelling “I.”  It’s quite possible that this singular mortifying moment in my childhood caused the future emergence of Nervous, Anxious, Crazy Mama.

Flash forward to today.  Dylan is teetering on the edge of reading! He recognizes words!  He reads signs!  He puts easy words together in sentences!  Every time he reads a word, his eyes twinkle with pride!  I can see his confidence building right before me!  It’s amazing!

But, he’s making me spell everything.

Cat.  Hat.  Mat.  Bat.  Yogurt.  Hannah (a girl in his class…makes me want to say “Hannah Banana” every time!).  Lynn (my middle name).  Nathan (Riley’s middle name).  Purple.  Airplane.  Television.  Okay.  3D.  Ice cream.  M&M’s (not an easy word to spell!).  Nalyd (Dylan backwards).  Yelir (Riley backwards).  For the love of God, he’s making me spell backwards!  Anakin.  Obi-Wan.  Hondo.  Bumblebee. Optimus Prime.  My friends, the spelling doesn’t stop.  It’s not that any of these words are difficult to spell (except Optimus, which took me a few extra seconds), but I feel a little bit like a hourse’s ass every time I do it.

On Monday, we reached a high point (or a low point depending on your viewpoint).  “How do you spell pain?”  “P-a-i-n.”  Then, “How do you spell ass?”  Pain in the ass.  My son wanted me to spell pain in the ass.  I didn’t want to do it, I really didn’t.  But, in the end, I did, because according to, an ass (noun) is: a long-eared, slow, patient, sure-footed domesticated mammal related to the horse, used chiefly as a beast of burden.  And if Dylan is ever called to service as a representative of his class in a school spelling bee, I want him to be better prepared than I was when I had the great misfortune of having my hourse’s a-s-s kicked out of the spelling bee for not saying “Capital (b-l-e-e-p-i-n-g) I.”  Sigh…deep breath…sip of w-i-n-e.

Editor’s note:  After spelling this inappropriate idiom for Dylan, I told him not to say it again.  Except in a spelling b-e-e. 

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Doctor Feel Good

Dylan left school a little early yesterday to go to the “feelings doctor” and – surprise, surprise – he had the best time ever.  The doctor had a huge doll house in her office with tons of play people, clothes and furniture, a road kit with traffic lights and street signs that you could put together any way you wanted, a big box of cars, a pop-up fire station and even a box of Barbies.  All the toys were from the late 70’s, but to Dylan they were N-E-W.  And he didn’t have to share any of them.  He was in toy heaven.

After the appointment, when we drove back to school to pick up Riley, Dylan told his friend, Sophia, about all the cool stuff the feelings doctor had in her office.  He said, “Sophia, there was no doctor stuff, just toys,” and Sophia said, “Can I go to this doctor, too?”

Back to the appointment.  Dylan and the feelings doctor talked and played with toys on the floor, and I sat on the couch to make sure Dylan felt comfortable and to troubleshoot if necessary.  Like when she asked him the name of his favorite talking car and he said “White-wing” McQueen and I had to translate and say, “He meant Lightning McQueen.”  It was hard to stay quiet when she asked him things and he took a long pause before answering or just said, “I don’t know.”  It made me realize how much of a Helicopter or Curling Mama (or both) I really am.   As hard as it was – and it was – I sat quietly unless I was asked a question directly or was needed to translate.

As focused as Dylan was on playing with all of the toys, he really did open up and answer a lot of her questions.  He was adorable, and at times, hilarious.  When she asked what scared him, he said “Bad guys, shooters and fire, but not smoke.  I like smoke.”  When she asked who lived at home with him, he said, “My Daddy lives in Florida.”  She asked “Doesn’t Daddy live in your house with you?”  He said, “No, he lives in Florida.”  When asked about his pets, he said, “Ha-wee (Harry) protects me from ghosts.”   Then she asked him if ghosts lived at his house and he said, “No.”

The last ten minutes of the session were between the feelings doctor and me.  She wants to process the behavioral surveys Mike and I filled out and see what comes from them, but she thinks he’s bright, articulate, friendly and talkative, and she suspects his anxiety is on the normal end of the spectrum and some simple coping strategies will help us at home.

She had me at “bright” and “articulate.”  The positive words she used to describe Dylan were exactly what this Nervous Mama needed to hear.  Maybe there was a good reason I was the one sitting on the couch.  In the end, Dylan and I both left feelings doctor’s office feeling pretty good.  Dylan got to play with some really cool toys (and now he wants to buy them, of course), and I got the reassurance I needed to be the best (Runaway) Mama I can be for my exceptional little boy.

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