Thursday, November 10, 2011

We Are...still Penn State; just a little less shiny...

I know that I promised you a book review...lets just call this a preview. I still have a book (or a few) I want to tell you about. But I have an apology to make...and maybe just one last, last word on this situation.

I am like my grandma. Took her to the funeral of her sister with my father. I don't speak creole so I missed a lot of the drama (note to self, don't go to any Fils-Aime gathering without learning creole). What I saw was my little, almost 100 year old grandmother ,argue with her nephew, the deceased son, and then, sniffling, be led out of her only sister's funeral by her son, followed by her only grandchild in attendance, me. I was also at a perfect vantage point to hear said nephew murmur something to which my grandmother executed a perfect 360 degree turn and launch all 100lbs of her self at him in the same movement...After catching grandma, carrying her out of the funeral home, and buying her donuts (another note to self, as I self-consciously push the tootsie roll wrappers off my desk...sugar really does not help in times of stress...) We settled her in her hotel bed and I googled "learn creole." I relate that story just to let y'all know that I come by it honest. If you have known me for more than 5 minutes, you probably know that I like my causes. And can get loud. Am totally not afraid of getting loud. And have had to be held back by people who know and love me when certain things are triggers.
searching in the photo for my friends and family in state college and my loved ones in the State College Police Dept..I love JoePa, and I pray for the people of the city of State College. This is a nightmare

This week has been one long trigger. But as a mature almost...sigh...50 year old and mother of 11, i need to begin to take responsibility for myself. My behavior has been unconscionable. I am as guilty of those students having tear gas fired at them as any other adult who engaged in the debate of Joe Paterno's guilt in the legal proceeding going on in State College. A legal proceeding we don't have any business engaging in...we are not called to judge our brother. Just call him on his behavior. Done. But so many of us feel the need to blog, write, give our learned opinions, hear ourselves talk. Its the American way. And it was a trigger.

For me, college was a wonderful time. One big party punctuated by the occasional class. Yeah, when I did my masters at Marywood, it was about grades. But Penn State it was about parties and football. And Joe was our hero. I say that not to glorify alcohol and drinking, but to give you my point of reference. Didn't care what my major was. It was the 80's. We were as free as the kids in the 60's, but smarter. And we had a national winning football was good. And even back then, JoPa was old. He walked the streets with us and didn't let his boys off the hook with grades. Get an Administration of Justice degree but get good grades!! That is how I knew Joe. I was an Administration of Justice major and so was much of his team. Joe wanted his boys to be the best on and off the field. And they loved him. Now many years later, I know as sure as I am sitting here that Joe wouldn't let a little boy be raped in his locker room and not do everything he could to ensure the boy was OK. I am completely sure, and interviews posted on the Internet bear it out, that he would not let any question of his wrong doing tarnish his team and his school. He would resign. But he would not bail on his boys at a crucial game. We all have to process that, let our conscience guide us. But every adult who entered into that debate helped fuel the turmoil that fed that riot. And our kids having tear gas sprayed at them.

A trigger. For me this wasn't all about a beloved coach though. The thing I am most passionate about is kids, our kids...I was a social worker before I was a mom (had to do something with that AdmJ degree and didn't want to carry a gun ;o) I have to wonder why that boy was in a locker room, with a man who was not his father, brother, or uncle, in the first place. My son would not have been. I wish this was hypothetical, but unfortunately, it isn't. One of my children, when they were 3 and still a foster child, was sent on a court-ordered home visit with the biological parents. On that visit, the child was molested by a sibling. I knew within literally 2 minutes of the kids getting back in the car there was a problem. Back at home, I called Children and Youth and had it reported, had collected physical evidence and was on my way to the hospital. I did not blame the boy who abused my child; he was small himself. Had been hurt. And he was sorry...I wish I could have told him we forgive him, but don't know where he is. I did not blame the caseworker, though he was, in fact, negligent. I blamed myself. I told my child that I was sorry I let them be hurt. I did that so they could heal. Ultimately, it was my fault. I was that child's parent. I eventually went to the caseworker supervisor. I did not go to the head of children and youth in that county who was at the time a close family friend. I went to the supervisor because that was the protocol. Actually, Shawn did, because he is the father and head of our household. He wondered aloud if the children's birth mother was supposed to complete a parent class but hadn't and had consistently failed drug tests while on probation but after her probation ended, they stopped testing, and wow, instant recovery. Not making light of a mom's pain. I liked the kids birth mom and spent a lot of time with her...but really. The agency made a decision, and with that, visits were stopped until she would comply with parenting and testing. She never did and we adopted the children.

It would have been very easy for us to come down on the agency and say they weren't doing their job. But it wouldn't have made it any easier for my child. And that is my gripe. My trigger...Yes, maybe Joe could have done more. But where was the child's parents. Why weren't they aware?

So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
1 Thessalonians 5: 1 - 6

We send our children to school earlier and earlier. We release them to the preK teachers and retire our obligation to be our child's teacher of education. And social skills. And moral responsibility. Emotional temperature...people, where does it end. We are our children's teachers and we are responsible for each and every aspect of their lives. I have been angry that the government has been trying to erode parental responsibility for years but maybe they are just assuming it by default...

No comments: