I stood my ground and he was not happy with me. I think it was partly that he felt a choice was being taken away from him, and if you'll recall, the boy is thirsty for independence these days. I'm sure another part of it was that he was nervous, and of course he had every right to feel that way.
He finally came to understand that he didn't have a choice in this particular matter. He agreed to start studying the list of words they were given. We studied for three days and he learned all the words on the list.
Then last night, he walked out on that stage with seven other fourth graders and nervously spelled 13 words. He missed one (luncheon --- tough word! and not on the published list!), but by that point they were down to two kids, and the other student missed it too, so they kept going one more round. All the others he spelled correctly and he won!
I used my phone to keep a list of the words he spelled. Luncheon was the only one he missed (I put his spelling in parenthesis). Pretty good, huh?
What a fun night. A great memory for us all, and I hope a lesson for my guy who tends to doubt his abilities.