The only word game I've really played with them was on a recent road trip, when we thought it would be fun to pronounce all our names backwards. That lead to pronouncing certain words and phrases backwards and not 10 minutes after Alutep, both kids came up with "parc", "ssa" and, sadly, "cuff."
So we didn't go back to spelling games anytime soon.
But here was a chance to see other kids being celebrated, idolized for working hard and sticking to the books.
As far as role models go, popular culture presents kids with Hannah Montana, but rarely do they get to see kids glorified for any non-glossy achievement. Packaged with ESPN's expert commentary and slick presentation, the National Spelling Bee should be required watching for all American kids.
Within 30 minutes of entering that ballroom, my kids were wolf-whooping for the correct spelling of myelogenous and trichocercous.
"Look, I'm Vanya," my 6-year-old said at a commercial break, and he imitated the campy Jersey accent that 11-year-old Vanya Shivashankar performed in her televised personality profile.
My 8-year-old couldn't sit, he was so excited. The 6-year-old mourned when Sriran Hathwar, 13, was knocked out by the word "ptyalagogue" in Round 13. "He was my favorite," my kindergartner said.
Not a bad role model to have.
They insisted on staying until the end, past 10 p.m., when Arvind Mahankali slayed the German language that has bedeviled him for so many years by correctly spelling "knaidel."
The confetti popped, cameras snapped and Arvind was handed the huge, shiny trophy.
We were all amped.
On the way back home in the car, I asked my kids what they had learned seeing the spelling bee.
Was it all the hard word the kids did? Their poise on the stage? That intellect should be celebrated?
The 6-year-old answered: "I learned that when you win a big trophy, you lift it high over your head."
Dvorak is a columnist for The Washington Post.