I’ve got a three little notes to myself I’ve been meaning to cover here. I think I’ll just lump them together, though they are not necessarily related. Just things that might be of interest.
–There’s a new book out called Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. I have not read the book yet (though I hope t0) but Terry Gross did a very thought-provoking interview with Waldman on Fresh Air. It’s that interview I want to recommend. There’s a discussion of abortion, in part about the language of abortion and generational shift, that I’m still mulling over. If you go and look soon you can still download the podcast, I think.
–Also from the radio, but on a different note, this past Saturday Weekend Edition had a little Mother’s Day essay by Alice Furlaud. She includes discussion of the rescue of three stranded dolphins in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. There were two adult dolphins (one male and one female) and a young dolphin. I’d seen them described as a dolphin family elsewhere.
The event was discussed in the radio piece because it demonstrated the bond between the mother dolphin and her offspring. But where other people portrayed this as a family, the person interviewed here referred to the mother and “the large male”. Now I don’t know why the female got to be the mother but the male didn’t get to be the father. I’m quite sure there was no genetic testing done. And both large dolphins had apparently become stranded while tending the little one. But the choice of language was striking.
–The octuplets made a brief reappearance in the news here. This time someone wants to be appointed as guardian to the octuplets to ensure that any money paid to them/for them is properly managed.
Of cousre, this is one of the things parents generally are relied on to do. On the one hand, perhaps there is reason to suspect Nadya Suleman’s judgment and worry for the well-being of the kids. On the other hand, here is someone who has no pre-existing relationship with the octuplets and who would gain from being appointed guardian trying to elbow his way into the room, as it were.
Beyond gossip value, this is one of those stories that makes me think about what it does mean to be a legal parent. It means (usually, barring exceptional circumstances) that you have the right to make decisions for your kids and keep other folks out of the picture. As I’ve noted before, in general either you are a parent, and you get all the rights and the power to exclude others, or you are not a parent, and you don’t get much at all. But this is an instance where you can see that sometimes the rights are divided into bits and parcelled out. A guardian, were one appointed, would have some but by no means all of Suleman’s rights. Because it is an intrusion on a parent’s rights, it’s not all that easy to get. Be interesting to see what happens here.6