Penn State of Mind

I’ll ‘fess up that when I see Nugget skillfully kick a soccer ball I think that she maybe the next Mia Hamm. Or when she places the “tethescope” on my belly and provides the diagnosis that I have squirrels in my stomach I conclude that she will be a brilliant doctor. Or when she attempts to negotiate every term of her dinner it’s clear to me that she’ll be a damn good lawyer. Or when she jams on her guitar like Ani Difranco it’s just a matter of time before she’s a total rock star, but only after she gains a good sense of herself so that she doesn’t Lindsay Lohan her life.


Regardless, we’re one of the few lucky American families that have just enough disposable income to sock away a little each month for college, so we do it diligently in the hopes that we can send her to a good, well-respected college or university.

Then something like Penn State happens and I’m left wondering what exactly is a “good” or “well-respected” college or university in this country?

Since I began therapy, I’m generally unable to read the news because the rampant salacious headlines are triggers. Instead, I go straight for any other section that’s not likely to cover the latest murder, sexual assault, etc.  I can’t hack that shit.

Also, we don’t watch TV (I do live in Vermont) and I rely on NPR for news. I’ve heard about 10,978 newscasts about the economy on NPR, but they usually steer clear of the subject of sexual abuse unless its newsworthiness is of a significant magnitude – and clearly, Penn State is of that magnitude.

So following Penn State has been somewhat unavoidable and my jaw was on the floor when I tuned into NPR last week to hear the chanting of the students in support of the coach. They highlighted that the students are standing vigil at the coach’s home and even guarding the statue of him that’s placed on campus to protect it from vandalization. WTF! I say melt that fucker down.

I haven’t been able to shake the students’ reaction. It’s like a giant frat party gone bad.  There’s no other comparison that comes to mind as I stream the images of dudes, lots of them, linking arms, swaying, singing, chanting, all puffy-chested and red-faced.

And oh, the revenge fantasies I’ve had on behalf of the victims. I dare not post them.

Let’s be honest, these are some of our country’s more privileged students in higher education. These are the men and women who are likely to become executives, politicians, lawyers, and sit on the boards of prestigious organizations. These are the very men and women who will likely serve in our communities as people of influence, whether that’s through public office, philanthropy, or by leveraging their purchase power.

And we wonder why victims don’t come forward.

But the Penn State victims did come forward, and managed to do something that an entire institution failed to do: they stopped a predator who sexually abuses children.

There are no words to convey my gratitude to them. It is in solidarity
with them that I sit here,  shocked by the spectacle the students and
administration have made of their bravery. When I ask myself if I
would have stepped forward, my gut response is “No way!”  But when I
reflect on the courage of the Penn State victims and what they have
accomplished, strength begins to manifest and I think I probably would.

As for my Nugget, I still hope that she attends a well-respected
college or university, but I also hope that she is not seduced by the
pomp and circumstance of the school’s traditions. I want her to recognize when
power is abusive and find the courage to crack its veneer that
masks injustice and the skirting of moral obligation.

Basically, I want her to kick some ass, and the Penn State victims have
set an example of just that.


About Mama's Tantrum

Midlife tantrum: Mothering a toddler while healing from childhood trauma. And trying not to throw a full-blown tantrum. View all posts by Mama's Tantrum

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