Most Wednesdays (or thereabouts) I’ve been recording a Curiosity Journal to recap the previous week using these tag words: reading, playing, learning, reacting and writing. Sometimes I mix up the order, just to keep you on your toes.
Not much reading time available during this speech and debate tournament.
For my birthday last Friday, we ate at Noodles & Company where I ordered Pad Thai. Because of an unexpectedly long wait, they gave us free drinks.
When we came home, the family threw together chocolate fondue. My son stirred the chocolate and soy creamer for the sauce, the girls cut up fruit, and my husband squished together three marshmallows to hold up my birthday candle.
An amusing, playful cupcake substitute for a girl avoiding gluten.
Not much writing happening during this speech and debate tournament.
My eldest daughter did a great job on her speech—the best she could possibly do—yet did not advance. My youngest daughter advanced to semifinals in the event she thought she had flubbed up, and didn’t advance in the categories in which she thought she might have a chance.
They are learning (and I’m reminded) that all you can do is prepare, practice, tweak, practice more. Then go out there and do the best you possibly can, trusting God with the results.
You can try to predict the outcome, but in the end, you just never know.
If you told me last year that my kids would develop speaking, organizational, research, writing, editing, creative expression, and critical-thinking skills through participation in only one “class,” and that this class would accomplish all of this without grades or standard academic rewards—I’d have responded, “Impossible!”
And if you told me that my kids would also, in this same class, discover inner motivation, confidence, poise, and respectful interaction with both peers and adults while proudly dressed in professional attire, I’d say, “You’re kidding me! I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Well, I’m seeing it.
My kids joined a speech and debate club, and throughout fall, I continued to doubt. Would my daughter ever truly know enough about the United Nations to debate the team policy resolution (“Resolved: the United Nations should be significantly reformed or abolished”)? Would she and her sisters really be able to act in these skits or write and memorize ten-minute speeches?
When the kids missed deadlines and appeared unmotivated, I questioned whether or not we should even continue. I went ahead and bought a debate box (pictured above) for my daughter’s December birthday, all the while worrying, Maybe this isn’t a good fit? What if she quits?
But then tournament season began, and something awakened in my kids.
They wanted it.
They wanted to do well. They wanted to improve, to feel proud of their work, to overcome their fears, to stand tall and proud that they took a risk and grew stronger for it.
They wanted to hear their name called when semifinalists are announced.
Semifinals, you see, are the ticket to regionals, which is a by-invitation-only tournament.
Our third daughter originally focused on debate, but by the third tournament, she decided to try her hand at some speeches. She added a duo (a two-person skit, performed with her debate partner), and then a humorous interpretation (a one-person skit). Later she added impromptu (pick a topic, take two minutes prep time, then walk in and give a five-minute speech using no notes).
Another of my daughters wrote a persuasive speech and delivered it multiple times at two tournaments, gaining confidence as she locked it in her memory. Each time she presents it, she’s practicing eye contact and emphasizing certain words to add a more urgent tone and call to action. This girl who hates to get in front of people discovered she can do more than survive giving a speech: she can give it multiple times, better and better each time.
I never imagined myself in this world of speech and debate, but here we are…I mean, literally, we are at a tournament even as I type. And though I am exhausted from the grueling schedule, and though we incur travel expenses, and though I feel inadequate as a judge when recruited, and though my heart sinks when I witness their disappointment at not advancing, I still feel this is the best investment of time and money I have ever made in my kids’ K-12 education.
The club is a Christian organization, and leaders point the students to Christ throughout the experience.
All of these skills the kids are developing? Give them to Jesus. Letdowns, disappointments and mess-ups? Give it to Jesus. Any wins? Any glory? Give it all to Jesus.
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36)