Things Kids Say, Pt. II

Working with 2nd graders has, oddly enough, helped me discover that I actually have a strict voice: they’re adorable, but aside from a few kids who have never done anything wrong in their lives, they don’t always behave. We all know that I’m probably one of the least assertive people out there, but this job has done wonders for me being able to stand my ground. (Yes, sometimes it includes me yelling. I didn’t know that was possible, either, but these little nuggets get into so many fights–and I mean flat-out punching, not baby fights.) Also at Ketcham, CY runs afterschool, and three teammates and I work with the 4th and 5th graders and create their lesson plans. It’s good practice for grad school, I suppose? On to the highlights of working with children:

  • There’s nothing like having to stifle your laughter because the small group you’re working with isn’t supposed to be talking, but you don’t have the heart to shush them because they’re saying things like, “Donald Trump isn’t mine” and “I didn’t vote for him.”
  • A guest came in to read a book to my afternoon class, and when she read the line “Zelda gave him a love note,” they all screamed, “Eww!”
  • One student told a classmate that he’s white because his last name is White, and they nearly started swinging at each other until I dropped my hands on their shoulders and told them, “You’re both black and you should be proud of that.” (Although, I do have to say that it’s fascinating how “white” is an insult for them.)
  • Looking over writing from 7-8 year olds becomes a whole new world when they try to write English phonetically: “fablss,” “prity,” “stor,” and “drdy” (fabulous, pretty, store, and dirty).
    • This kid, who’s usually so sweet, wrote, “I kick my kat.” Honey, you don’t even have a cat.
  • Despite my phobia of clowns, I couldn’t help but laugh when a student told me, “I want to be a clown because I’m a funny guy.”
    • Actual words that left his mouth: “I bopbopbop and the dog goes away.”
  • At lunch, I told someone he had to throw away his food, and he grumbled, “I don’t wanna,” so I told him, “The zombies are gonna get you!” and he yelped, “No!” and promptly began cleaning up.
  • One child asked me, “Can you take me home with you?” called someone “Mr. Evil Demon” and “Mr. Devil,” and hugged me while proclaiming, “My City Year!”
    • I couldn’t stop myself from laughing at her when she dramatically plastered her face to the glass wall of a classroom and watched dolefully as I walked away.
  • A little space cadet took what I assumed was a sour bite of pineapple, and stared at the remaining morsel on his fork with the most betrayed expression.
    • My partner teacher told me to take pictures of the kids reading, and whenever I pointed her phone at him, he looked at me like, “HOW DARE YOU I’m camera shy.”
    • While he was climbing on the top of the monkey bars: “I’m living the monkey life!”
  • Someone said that the tooth fairy brings her gold bars. Why didn’t I know about this as a child?
  • Me: “What are you thinking about? You gotta focus!”
    • Him: “I’m thinkin’ about ice cream!”
    • When I left the room to plan, he squished his angry face right up against the window, and I booked it out of there before I started laughing.
  • Me: “You have to remember things in that little head of yours!”
    • Her: “Things pop out of my ears!”
  • One girl repeatedly demanded to know my real name. Sweetie, it’s right there on my name tag. I don’t have another name.
  • Some of these students are getting so possessive. They wrap me in hugs, or attack me from the other side when one of their classmates is hugging me, and claim, “My City Year!” Uh, no, I’m not an object for you all to fight over.


  • I was explaining 9/11, and a 4th grader said, “Muslims are the people who everyone thinks are bad but they’re all actually good.”
  • We had students create laws for their own country, and the first thing one student wrote was, “A country where people don’t kill each other.”
  • Unrelated to afterschool, but I am still–and will always be–confused about a 3rd grader telling me that I look Spanish…???

WOC Reflections and TAPIF Reminiscences

I’ve been procrastinating on studying for the GRE by actually being social for once. After work on Friday, I booked it to the CY Office to attend the API (Asian Pacific Islander) Affinity Circle meeting. Unsurprisingly, there weren’t very many of us because the API community is such small percentage of not only the DC corps, but also CY as a whole. Nonetheless, it was so nice to be able to talk to other people who are always on the same page as me. (Thank you, fellow APIs, for understanding the BS behind an office telling me that I don’t count as underrepresented in higher education. “Model minority” status, yay!) Our agenda included setting dates for future meetings and preparing blog posts, so be on the lookout for those at!

After the half-hour meeting, two out of the five people who’d attended, A and R, invited me to go eat dinner with them. Over bowls of delicious pho, we shared so much salt about everything imaginable, and we even carried an entire conversation in nothing but sarcasm, e.g. how much we love it when kids ask, “Are you from China?” or “Are you Muslim?” It was exactly what I’d needed, because while I love being surrounded by POC at Ketcham, especially WOC faculty and staff, I miss being around fellow API women.

Saturday evening, I walked to an Ethiopian restaurant to meet up with my fellow Nice and TAPIF alumna, S and A. Despite the strangeness of finally seeing each other in America, we caught up on our new lives and reminisced about France. It’s odd how, despite the fact that TAPIF ended five months ago, everything already feels like a blur, like we were completely different people back then.

Even now, to me, it seems so surreal that we lived and worked in France for almost a year, just because America is so different. Nobody else in CY truly understands the TAPIF struggles of living in a small town and working a scant 12 hours a week, or the joys of having 8 weeks of paid vacation and the freedom to travel across Europe, and being able to go into a boulangerie and buy a random pastry that has a 0% chance of disappointing you. (If I didn’t have pictures and a passport, was there ever truly proof that I traveled to places like Copenhagen, Dublin, and Giverny?) Although the plus side is that, for me, I was so bored with the short work week that the busy 50 hour work weeks now feel like a blessing–I’m genuinely enjoying being busy.

P.S. A friend recently remarked that the field of French is sea of white women, and last night, I had to stop and think about how accurately the TAPIF demographics reflect that statement. The majority of assistants were, in fact, white women, and as for the few Asians in the program, every single one of us experienced racism. Hell, I even met someone in DC who actually left the program because she was the only Asian in a town smaller than Laon and couldn’t be bothered to deal with the resulting racism. This is why I’m so done with white people (not my woke friends, but, you know, white people as a whole).


Things Kids Say

I’m officially going to document what my 2nd grade babies say and do, because they’re just too cute. (I’m so disappointed that it’s illegal for corps members to take or store photos of kids on our phones, because I just want to show everyone how absolutely adorable they are.)

  • One of them tied this little heart charm onto my backpack, and then told me, “You can keep it forever so that you remember me forever.”
  • Kid: “How old are you?
    • Me: “How old do you think I am?”
    • Her: “100?”
    • Me: “No, not 100.”
    • Her: “1000?”
    • Me: “No, you gotta go under 100.”
    • Her: “90?”
  • One of my kids (who’s so cute, she’s rocking the whole “big eyes, missing front teeth” look) came up to me and asked, “Did you get whoopin’s as a child?”
    • Me: “No, I did not. Do you get whoopin’s?”
    • She replied gleefully, “No!” and then proceeded to skip away.
  • The same child held her arms out to me and sang, “Wanna be my lover?”
    • Me: “Your what?”
    • Her: “Will you be my friend?”
    • Me: “Yes, I’ll be your friend, but you have to pinky promise me that you’ll behave.”
    • Her, five minutes after the pinky promise: “Will you be my friend?”
  • One kid was upset over a pencil and wouldn’t do her work, so I asked if she wanted to use my “special pencil.” She nodded, and I forked over one of the mechanical pencils in my pocket. After she did her work, she brought the pencil back to me at the end of class. I legitimately thought I’d never see that pencil again.
  • My partner teacher told a little space cadet to collect everyone’s worksheets, and this poor boy did not know how to stack papers. I had to try so hard not to laugh, because he was gathering them in his arms like a bunch of leaves while holding his jacket in one hand. Unsurprisingly, he dropped them, and as I helped him pick them up, I asked, “Do you want me to hold your jacket?” and he claimed, “No, I got this.” He proceeded to bring an armful of disorganized papers to my teacher. I could not hold back my laughter.
  • One kid asked, “Is Ms. Z your sister?” Hon, she’s white and I’m Asian.
  • Another kid guessed that I was 18, and then 13. This is what I get for having #babyface.
  • Someone asked, “Will you be my mom?” No, honey, no matter how cute you are, I will not be your mother.
    • She also told me that she was going to take me home with her. Not that I would mind because she’s so cute, but that goes against CY rules.
  • Actual quotes from two kids: “Donald Trump isn’t mine” and “I didn’t vote for him.”
  • Not my story, but I love it nevertheless. One of my teammates who works with 1st graders asked one of his kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
    • Him: “A vegetarian!”
    • J, understandably confused: “What do they do?”
    • Him: “It’s like a doctor, but for pets!”