There were even a couple of times when I’d fill in for the regular coaches at the games. I’ll admit that this was a little nerve-racking, and I’m sure this was true for Sasha as well, who may have winced when her dad would voice his displeasure with a particular call made by the referee. But I was so proud, watching her run up and down the court, seeing her learn and improve and gain confidence. And I was hopeful that in the years to come, she would look back on experiences like these as the ones that helped define her as a person – and as a parent herself.
There is a marvellous illustration of this arms-race problem in the work of two psychology professors, Deborah Gruenfeld and Robert Wyer, Jr. They gave people statements that were said to be newspaper headlines, and asked them to rate their plausibility, on a scale of zero to ten. Since the headlines basically stated the obvious–for example, “black democrats supported jesse jackson for president in 1988”–the scores were all quite high. The readers were then given a series of statements that contradicted the headlines. Not surprisingly, the belief scores went down significantly. Then another group of people was asked to read a series of statements that supported the headlines–statements like “Black Democrats presently support Jesse Jackson for President.” This time, the belief scores still dropped. Telling people that what they think is true actually is true, in other words, has almost the same effect as telling them that what they think is true isn’t true. Gruenfeld and Wyer call this a “boomerang effect,” and it suggests that people are natural skeptics. How we respond to a media proposition has at least as much to do with its pragmatic meaning (why we think the statement is being made) as with its semantic meaning (what is literally being said). And when the pragmatic meaning is unclear–why, for example, would someone tell us over and over that Jesse Jackson has the support of black Democrats–we start to get suspicious. This is the dilemma of spin. When Rahm Emanuel says “bombshell,” we focus not on the actual bombshell but on why he used the word “bombshell.”
It is interesting to me that most women who are infertile speak of their childless state as though it is something out of their control. They need to be honest and admit that being childless is their choice. There are literally millions of children out there who need good homes. If your goals are family and motherhood, why is adoption given such short shrift? Why not just be honest and admit that family and parenting aren’t your goals, but rather genetic preservation or perhaps just the state of being pregnant? While Ms. Little cursorily addresses adoption by demeaning those who have suggested it to her and tries to save face by praising those who do adopt, it doesn’t seem to me that she has honestly examined her motives for not wanting to consider adoption.