A 6-Year-Old is Going to The Scripps National Spelling Bee: or, The AP Profiles the Littlest Tyrant

The Associated Press profile of future President of the Milky Way Galaxy Lori Anne Madison who, at 6 years old, is the youngest person ever to gain entrance into the Scripps National Spelling Bee, is charming in that it finds her bounding around a nature preserve in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. searching for snails, slugs, tadpoles, and the like.

The profile is odd in that it reads like a standard Christmas brag letter deftly encoded with fearful pleas for deliverance from adults held captive by the world's most precocious 6-year-old girl.

For example, for every mention of how Lori Anne Madison is "blonde and adorable," there is a quick aside that notes she speaks with "a touch of know-it-all confidence."

The tone vacillates between the absurdly fawning:

Some kids are ahead of the curve physically, mentally or socially from a very young age. Lori Anne is the rare exception who defies the norms in every category.

And the decidedly cagey, speaking of Lori Anne Madison in the same terms one would use to describe a particularly cunning dictator or a young Dakota Fanning:

So a detente was reached. Lori Anne was more than happy to let a reporter and photographer from The Associated Press tag along at a picnic with other gifted home-schooled children, but she craftily steered any questions about spelling back toward the joint pursuit of slimy things in the creek.

Again, fawning:

She hit all her milestones early, walking and talking well before others in her playgroup.

Propagandizing:

When her mother tried to enroll her in a private school for the gifted, the headmaster said Lori Anne was just way too smart to accommodate and needed to be home-schooled. […] Lori Anne now studies at home, mastering topics other kids her age won't touch for several years.

And apprehensive:

There's been no need for Lori Anne's parents to push her to do anything - because she's already way out in front dragging them along.

Here are some of Lori Anne Madison's choicest quotes (delivered, we are informed, at a rate of "100 mph," a very reckless speed), to give you a sense of the preternaturally commanding higher life form with which we are dealing:

On basalt, the holding on to of:

"Hold on to that basalt," Lori Anne Madison said in a bossy 6-year-old's voice, "and do not drop it."

On media attention and punishment for disobedience:

"I sort of didn't like it. I asked for no interviews but the media seems to be disobeying me, and that's why we're looking for snails and water slugs right now."

On winning arguments against her parents, a college professor and a trial lawyer:

"I argue and argue and argue until their brain is spinning."

Chilling, right? Even when she's saying kid-things, Lori Anne Madison comes across, not as a kid, but as someone who has rigorously studied and mastered the art of children.

On interviewing:

"I want to go back to being a kid and playing with my friends."

Lori Anne Madison's mother's comments speak volumes as well. First, imagine this in the voice of your typical braggy parent:

"She's like a teenager in a 6-year-old body. Her brain, she understands things way ahead of her age."

Now, read it again, picturing Lori Anne Madison: La Mère whispering cautiously, one eye on the morning star cherub gamboling in the nearby creek, careful not to move her lips – careful, perhaps, to slowly inch her hand toward the Associated Press reporter's hand until her pinky is touching his thumb, a silent plea for connection and help:

"She's like a teenager in a 6-year-old body. Her brain, she understands things way ahead of her age."

By the end of the piece, the writer is lashing out at Lori Anne Madison with the only weapon the powerless may exercise against tyrants:

The pauper's sword.

The pen.

The word.

He notes, for instance, that, when asked to spell an obscure German word ("sprachgefuhl" meaning "an intuitive feeling for language") backwards, Lori Anne Madison "paused a bit and had to take her time," though she did eventually get it, goddamnit, she still managed to get it.

He adds that "No one is expecting Lori Anne to win the national bee this year," which is sort of like saying, of the prettiest girl in the room, "I mean, she's not that pretty."

For the record, Lori Anne Madison, on how she'll do in the competition:

"Great."

In case you're wondering, Lori Anne Madison won a place in the Scripps bee way back in March, after correctly spelling the word "vaquero" in her regional spelling bee.

Now, "vaquero" is a word you or I could definitely have spelled correctly, and no one's calling us the youngest people ever admitted to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

But don't let Lori Anne Madison hear us speaking of such things.

[Associated Press // Image via Shutterstock]