Friday, October 27, 2000

Mom v. Dad

Circumcision continues to be a subject of much dispute, in internet chat rooms, on Web sites, on e-mail lists, anywhere people feel the need to spout off opinions. Now it’s a hot topic in the courtroom, too. A New Jersey couple, unable to agree on whether to perform the procedure on their 3-year-old (egads! have they been arguing that long?), have done what any red-blooded American parents with a problem to solve would do--they’ve given it to a judge to decide.

Mom feels that the boy’s repeated infections in the foreskin area are enough to merit its removal. Dad feels the infections are no big deal, but circumcision is. The first judge agreed with Mom, but Dad appealed and won a stay of...well, execution. By the time this case gets to the Supreme Court, the kid will be 18 and able to decide for himself, but there’s principle involved here. I’m not sure what principle that is, exactly, but there must be one.

Not surprisingly, Mom and Dad in this case are in the midst of divorce proceedings. I’ve heard of arguing about houses and cars and custody and child support, but are penises now going to be fair game? There’s plenty an outraged wife who would probably like to court-order a procedure on her husband’s appendage, but surely we could keep the children’s out of it? Can you just imagine what fun the rearing of this child is going to be? Every milestone--should we start him in kindergarten at 5? should he go out for Little League? what should he wear for Halloween?--will be argued before the court. If the kid needs special education, the child-study team won’t know what hit them; they’ll have to deal with Mom, Dad, Mom’s lawyer, Dad’s lawyer, and a closed-circuit connection to a judges’ chambers.

One thing’s for sure: You’ll see this circumcision scenario popping up on a future episode of “Judging Amy.”

And in related news: Does putting disposable diapers on your baby boy reduce your odds of having grandchildren? That’s the much-disputed finding of a team of German researchers, who found that the temperature surrounding the scrotum of baby boys wearing plastic-lined diapers is higher than it is for their cotton-clad counterparts. And anyone who’s followed the great briefs vs. boxers debate knows what that means: the higher the temperature, the lower the sperm count.

Now, of course, sperm count is not a big concern for the pre-potty-trained set, and most researchers outside of this particular German team scoff at their findings. In general, I’m guessing the overall self-esteem of members of this German team is none too high. At the very least, it’s a sure thing any parents on that team are not getting asked to their kids’ career-day assemblies. “My daddy measures the temperature of babies’ balls!” Not exactly a glamour profession, is it?

At any rate, let’s hope the couple in New Jersey never gets wind of this. Because if that mom ever put a plastic diaper on that boy, his dad’s gonna see her in court.

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