second chance

I have said it many times and I’m not scared to say it again: being at Broad Ripple is like stepping into a time warp where I’m thirteen years old again and I’m a student at Guion Creek Middle, a nearby school in Pike Township with a similar demographic make-up. The noisy halls, the endless lockers, and the stifling uniforms brought me back and made me feel at home.

So far in my time with my students at Broad Ripple, I’ve been lucky to have at least one or two recurring kids who always at least say hello even if we don’t get to work with each other that day. Through the conversations I’ve had with them, I’ve felt old and wise for maybe the first time in my young life.

Some things about middle school never change. There’s always the gossip, the two-day long relationships, the drama, and the whispers about who likes who, but it was this semester at Broad Ripple that taught me that just because I remembered how middle school society works, didn’t mean I understood the changes that it had went through in just six short (or long?) years away. Foolishly, I thought that since because everyone had cell phones and Facebook when I was in middle school that they played an equal role in life as they did before.

One day, as I worked with a student on her writing which had slightly veered from the prompt, she chattered away and told me all the things that she had on her mind, both in and outside of school. Somewhat surprisingly, though a number of years separated us, she was worried about the same things I had been at her age. She had the same exaggerated fears about college parties and boyfriends that I had in her shoes. She believed a lot of the same things that I had about what a girl is supposed to be and what she’s supposed to do that I had before I knew what feminism was.

This was my chance to try it again. This was my time to teach someone how to be better than me at the same age. We talked about all of it. College, boys, clothes, family, friends, politics, the presidential race, and more. Even though I’m sure that she didn’t listen to everything I said, it felt good to know I had the opportunity to try again.

In the end, I know she’s gonna get into middle school drama like everyone else, she’s gonna make mistakes like everyone else, and she’s gonna have regrets like everyone else, but what I do know is that she won’t feel the same level of guilt about it all.

Arisa Moreland is a sophomore Education major.