As most of you know, our university prides itself on the vast number of amazing internships it has to offer. As a student, you have the opportunity to observe doctors in the field of your choice, work with politicians at the state capital and assist scientists with groundbreaking research. Since it is my final year at UC Davis, I made the decision to take advantage of the remarkable opportunities offered to me. I went to the Internship and Career Center, talked to an adviser and searched the Aggie job link thoroughly before coming to a vital and informed decision.
I now spend my Monday mornings with 20 screaming, crying 6-year-olds.
I know what you’re saying, “Danielle, what are you thinking? You could have been walking around the Capitol, getting coffee and running errands for someone of semi-importance!” But let me assure you, interning in a first grade classroom is not as bad as it sounds. In fact, for someone contemplating going into teaching, it can be downright fascinating. I’ve already learned tons of things.
For example, it turns out that boys have always sucked. I think they’re born with some sort of innate, sadistic gene that shows up even when they’re six. This was demonstrated to me when, one day before class had started, I noticed that a group of girls was gathered around the classroom sink, staring into it. I went over to see what they were so enthralled with when I noticed the eight-legged creature scurrying around the basin, trying to find its way out. The girls were engrossed with the spider. Their eyes wide with wonder; they were content to simply watch it dash back and forth across the stainless steel. One of the boys in the classroom noticed the crowd and ran over to see what was so exciting.
“A spider!” he exclaimed with obvious delight. I chuckled to myself, amazed to see that something as simple as a spider could so easily bring them such happiness. The next words out of his mouth wiped the smile off my face. “Squash it!” he screamed as if giving the order to go into battle. Right away, half a dozen more boys appeared out of nowhere. “Flush it down the drain!” “Kill it!” The girls shrieked in fear and protest. Their anxiety for the “Achnid,” which I was informed by the group was the proper name, was enough for me to intervene and carry the spider to safety.
Something else I’ve learned from my unexpected field study is that children never, ever say what they mean. For example, when one of my students told me he had to go to the bathroom, but couldn’t, I assumed he wasn’t feeling well. Of course, what he really meant was, “I broke my arm several months ago and had trouble taking my pants off by myself. Now I refuse to put the extra effort into using the restroom without help from someone who is gullible enough to believe that I still can’t unbutton my own jeans.” That situation didn’t end well.
I know that I make this sound like the babysitting job from hell (redundant much?), but it’s not all bad. In fact, I really enjoy myself most of the time. I have to admit, it’s pretty cute watching them sound out words, turning seemingly basic vernacular into sounds resembling foreign languages. The word “one” becomes “Oh-Knee.” “Two” becomes “Twoah.” Yet somehow the word “cylinder” is a snap. It’s hard to resist smiling when their little hands, that somehow always seem to be sticky, reach out to grab mine. And it’s always heartbreaking when I pull my hand away, because in this day and age it’s just not smart to touch kids, no matter how innocent it is.
I’ll be sad to leave them at the end of the quarter. And I know they’ll miss me since a handful of them won’t even go out to recess without an assurance from me that I will still be there when they get back. So if you’re looking for an internship, I urge you to consider the kids of Davis. Give the clingy, sticky little monsters a chance and I promise you won’t regret it (and you’ll probably develop a newfound appreciation for birth control).
DANIELLE RAMIREZ’s throat hurts from speaking an octave higher than normal. Please e-mail any remedies to firstname.lastname@example.org.