No, she didn't win; she got knocked out on a careless mistake. And she knew it was a careless mistake, and that didn't get rubbed in. Later, she said that she was worried that she'd faint if she lost! Well, she didn't faint, and she didn't cry (I was genuinely worried about the latter)... she was miserable, but I reminded her of this:
* This was invite-only - only the kids the teachers recommended as the best spellers in school. Read: two dozen out of about five hundred.
* Not all of the kids invited were brave enough to go up there and try.
And she did. And that is a sort of victory in itself.
Another thing I thought of on the way there, and told her... she knows that I won all of my school spelling bees, that I placed fourth in county, blah blah blah. But the big difference there was that I had been on stage since I was four. Ballet recitals. School and camp plays. Et cetera. By fourth grade, I was thoroughly accustomed to being on stage in front of hundreds of people.
So naturally that's going to make a difference. Would I have performed so well in my spelling bees if I wasn't on stage so much anyway? I don't know. But I think that we can't discount that variable.
She was embarrassed... but she still wants to try next year, and I think that's great. I told her, "The worst has happened... so now you see that the 'worst' really isn't so bad at all! The pressure is off, and you know what to expect, and you'll do better next time because you know that the 'worst' isn't nearly as bad as you thought it was. You misspelled a word, and lightning did not strike you down."
I took her straight home instead of out to celebrate, because she'd had a headache and tummyache half the day... her nerves, poor munchkin. But we had lots of talking, our Westfield Comics shipment arrived, she rolled around on the grass a bit and played some PS2 and read some Lemony Snicket, and she's cool. She handled this very well.
Yes, I'm proud of her.