By Lisa Regula Meyer
The last couple of weeks haven’t brought lots of interesting news around our house. If I’m being honest, it’s been simply more of the same with a friend having a biopsy for possible cancer later this week (can I say “Screw you, cancer”), another friend going through health complications (on top of everything else) with her child, a student who’s going through an extremely rough patch and in need of desperate help, and there’s ongoing health concerns with my father-in-law that are a mystery, but he’s finally having them addressed. In the midst of all this stress that isn’t mine directly but that I have to navigate around, I have found myself focusing on silver linings, bright sides, and the simple pleasures (to throw together a mash up of happy cliches). It’s helpful for me, and gives me the strength to be what other people need from me at that moment.
Health- Yeah, I may have a slight cold but that’s nothing compared to what others have to deal with, obviously. This winter has been pretty mild for our house, frankly, with no major flu or other illnesses hitting our house. In fact, with the help of a faculty and staff wellness program at work my health has been improving and I’ve been losing some of the weight I packed on while dealing with the crap of the past couple of years. This is one blessing that I could pack up as easily as other blessings and share with those who need.
Family- They might be annoying at times and a source of stress at others, but they’re mine and they’ve been there through so much for me. It’s awkward, and they’re hard relationships to maintain but we do it. We recently had a visit from my mother-in-law and her new husband, and it actually went far better than I had expected. She and I can’t hold a conversation to save our lives and have almost nothing in common. Heck, I can’t even get her to talk about our difficulties. But we had a good visit, playing board games after brunch, and having fun as a family. My brother-in-law even showed up, and both he and his wife came out for dinner.
Friends- They are my rock, and have helped me through so much. The least I can do for them is to reciprocate when they need it, and as much as I wish they weren’t going through the issues they currently are, I’m glad to have the chance to return the help that they have given me over the years. One friend nearly made me cry by asking if I would help her and her husband by carrying their child if her health issues end up being worse than we all want them to be. Even though I hadn’t been thinking of myself doing another surrogacy, the possibility of helping a friend in this way has me a bit excited, I have to admit; she would make an amazing mom.
Job- Even though I’m currently one of those adjunct faculty members that are getting an increasing amount of national attention, I enjoy my job. I love it, really. I know this adjunct thing is temporary, and have solid applications out to a number of tenure track jobs and a campus interview in a week. No, I don’t have all the resources that I need, but I’m finding creative ways to fill the gaps that benefit my students and my research. I’m learning skills to be a better educator with less, and with the help of another colleague, I’m writing my courses to be intentionally more inclusive and present more of the history of biology than just old white guys by talking about researchers like Rachel Carson, Rosalind Franklin, Wangari Maathai, and Tyrone Hayes. And I have great fun with side projects like this blog, Fireside Science, and Ear to the Ground.
Home- My husband and my son, the home that we’ve made together, and our life are amazing. I can’t imagine any other place to be or who to be there with. Yes, it’s tough; yes, it has challenges, but at the end of the day this is the life I chose, and this is the life I would choose over and over again. I have what I need, and I have enough to share what I have.
I just wish that more people in my life could say the same right now, and I’ll keep doing what I can until they’re there.
By Lisa Regula Meyer
Apparently, there’s a man in Utah protesting the recent expansion of marriage equality in that state by starving himself. I’m all for his sentiment of preferring action over speeches, and standing up for your principles. At the same time, though, I have to wonder if his chosen action fits with the principles that he is defending very well. The man in question has previously run for Utah state senate office as a Constitution Party candidate, and feels that the nation is drifting quickly away from what our country’s founders would recognize as the United States.
Let’s unpack this concept a little. TM (I’m not using his name because 1)you can easily Google him, and 2) he doesn’t deserve to get personal attention for this; I want to stick to the issues as much as possible) follows the claim of the Mormon and other churches that marriage is between a man and a woman, and believes that marriage equality goes against the church. It’s not an uncommon idea, and one that is perfectly fine- until you decide to use your religion to influence other people. Remember, “freedom of religion” goes both ways, not just the way you want it to. Everyone of a different orientation than straight has the right to follow their own faith, which may or may not condemn inequality. At the same time, the Christian religion also speaks against killing, even one’s self, and self-inflicted death is a potential outcome of this and all hunger strikes. At best this is cherry-picking your theology, at worst it’s simply using religion to condone bigotry.
TM argues that action is preferable to words, and I would normally agree with that. I say “usually” because for the action to be effective, it should convey what the words would have conveyed, or at least be relevant. Maybe someone could explain it to me, but I don’t really see the connection between bigotry and starvation, so this makes it seem like his action is more of a publicity stunt than anything else. As a publicity stunt, TM seems to have been fairly successful, having attracted a conservative blogger and a person currently being monitored by Southern Poverty Law Center to call for a “state insurrection ‘in the name of the Constitution and the Prince of Peace,’” and for “[putting] the federal government on notice, in the holy cause of Liberty.” I’m familiar with churches and religious people calling attention to the cause of poverty with fasts, and the case of Guantanamo Bay prisoners using hunger strikes to call attention to their treatment, but this is the first I’ve heard of using hunger being used to further the cause of privilege and inequality (but I’d love to hear of any other examples someone might have). In any protest, relevancy is pretty important, and I don’t see the relevancy here.
TM claims that the legal theory of nullification would be a simple fix to this situation. Utah could nullify the court’s decision against the Utah marriage equality ban, and he would go back to life as normal. The only problem with this proposed solution is that nullification was dealt a pretty big blow by the Supreme Court in the 1958 Cooper v. Aaron decision. And there was that pesky Civil War that showed the devastating results of taking nullification to the extremes. Yes, states have rights that the federal level of government does not, and yes there is a constitutional division of power between the federal, state, and local governments. However, the issue of rights lies with the federal government, not the state or local governments, and marriage equality is most definitely an issue of rights, so nullification and states’ rights aren’t applicable here.
Finally, there’s the issue of what are we teaching with this effort? That hate and inequality are worthy of inflicting self-harm? Is this a cause that we want to normalize? Don’t we regularly fight to teach just the opposite, that people should love and respect themselves and their body, and thus take care of it? How would TM feel if in the future one of his children chose to act out against his/her father by refusing food; would he try to stop this, or accept it as a valid protest action when you disagree with someone? Oh, wait, many kids already do that. Which, at its heart, shows exactly what TM is doing- throwing a temper tantrum because of a decision by the court with which he disagrees.
Remember, folks, hate hurts you as much as it hurts the person you hate, sometimes even more so.
By Lisa Regula Meyer
The holidays are in full swing (and will be over by the time this post is up), and I’m trying to focus on the positive. It should be a happy time of the year, and this should be considered a good year for our family- no deaths, I graduated, Kenny is having a good year at school, and Dwight and I have had enjoyable teaching assignments. For the most part, I’m even succeeding at this whole holiday spirit thing, at least a little.
One thing that I’m very grateful for is the Holiday Shop that Kenny’s school puts on with the parents’ group there. The parents at our school do a great job making crafts, finding deals, and getting donations to make sure that the kids have a huge selection of gifts to choose from while teachers, other students, and parent volunteers help students do their own holiday shopping. This relieves me from the stress of shopping with him, and trust me, shopping is stressful enough on its own for me. After crafting some gifts and decorating cards, he proudly went off to school with his list of people he still needed gifts for, and ideas of what they might like written on the back of a money envelope containing his saved allowance for the past few weeks, and I proudly looked at my growing up kid.
That afternoon I picked him up from school, and couldn’t wait to hear what he had found to finish his holiday list. He showed me the ring he found for Grandpa D, the “family gifts” for our household that he could only tell me how much Dwight and I would love and no further details, the snow-globe for Grandma S, and the Hot Wheels car for Mr. D. Then- his eyes glimmering- he told me of his best find: not just one, but THREE! Barbie dolls for Miss E. And my heart sank. She might enjoy the dolls, but her dads would be anything but cool with this gift. There are small parts, the suggested age (3+) puts them at too old for her, and body image discussions are a big deal in their house (which is a good thing- but kind of contraindicates Barbie dolls as possible gifts). A classmate of his had given him the idea, and he thought it was brilliant, but I wanted to avoid the emotional fallout of having his gift rejected. So we had another Big Talk, this time about choosing gifts that will be appreciated and how best to show love to someone- hint: it’s not always buying something.
In the end, he took the Big Talk much better than I had expected, and we worked together to find a gift for Miss E that would be a hit- a book about a toad that a local artist had written and illustrated. The unexpected bonus in this whole thing, was a new toy for Kenny. Unsurprisingly, one of the reasons for his infatuation with the Barbie doll set was because he himself thought it was cool, so for finding such great gifts for most of the people on his list and dealing with a tough situation so well, we let him keep his favorite doll. The other two are being given to a local “angel child” gift tree to brighten some other child’s holiday a bit.
Yeah, I probably could have handled this far better than I did, but this whole parenting thing has no instruction manual, and I did the best that I could in the moment. But between this little episode and our night-on-the-town handing out treat bags with some of my friends and Kenny, you can paint me the proud mama of a kind hearted, long-haired, Barbie loving Brony this season. Somewhere my sister (the long-haired, girly Barbie-lover of us two) is laughing her head off.
By Lisa Regula Meyer
Holidays are supposed to be happy and joyful occasions surrounded by family and friends, but for those who have had a falling out with their family, or who have lost loved ones through death or estrangement, the holidays can be everything but happy and joyful. All too often, teens and young adults in the LGBTQ community fall into this category. We all know the statistics about LGBTQ youth and suicide, violence, depression, and homelessness, but if you happen to need a review, Lambda Legal, Human Rights Campaign, and PFLAG new York City have some great data sets that are not for the faint of heart. Not that youth are the only ones suffering right now; we also see a bleak picture for older LGBTQ individuals as well.
Now that you’re thoroughly pissed off, depressed, resigned- whatever negative emotion these statistics strike in you- do something about it! The good news is, it’s never been easier to provide support as a part of a community than it is today, thanks to the internet and social media. Granted, it’s not as good as an actual hug, but even reading kind words reminding you that you are important enough to reach out to can be a huge lift during the holidays. Your Holiday Mom is trying to provide just that for LGBTQ youth with a virtual message that can be read as a reminder that people do care and you do matter. For some of us, the holidays are just plain terrible, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can insert all the criticisms of digital communication and community, and cries of “slacktivism” that you want, and at a rational- intellectual level I would totally agree with you. But here’s the thing- humans tend not to be very rational. Obviously, this little bit isn’t going to replace any other holiday good cheer that you might send out, but it’s a small thing that you can do that might just mean the world to someone who needs it right now. I’m proud to say that I know some of the holiday moms already posted, and I hope to be able to include more acquaintances in the list of people-doing-something-great that is the holiday letter site.
I know you care, let someone else know that you do, too.
By Lisa Regula Meyer
Today marks the start of the holiday shopping season, the day after Thanksgiving, when Americans take to the malls in droves looking for spectacular deals on the latest, greatest thing for this year. Or at least it had been the start of the shopping season until the recent craze of opening earlier and earlier began. So this year while most of us are home enjoying a holiday feast with our loved ones, retail employees will be stocking shelves and ringing up orders of people who can’t wait another day to spend.
I’ll admit that I have a vested interest in maintaining the day off that had been far more common just a few years ago, as Dwight works in retail. Having a day off to celebrate the holiday with family is also something that I believe is just plain the right thing to do. It’s not often that families today have a day set aside that everyone can be together, between more businesses being open more hours, and many people working more than one job. The biggest irony that I see is the messaging that we send- give thanks and treasure time with those you love on one hand, and love is equal to a purchase, but especially a deeply discounted one, on the other hand. It’s a sad way to start the season, in my opinion, focusing on the purchases and the profits instead of being together.
I realize that their are some people who want to work on the holiday to earn extra income for the holidays, and I hope that those are the people who are the ones staffing the Thanksgiving retail floor, but I also know that at most stores these will be mandatory work days to make sure that staffing levels are high and customer service is up. Wouldn’t valuing families mean paying people enough that a day off with their own families was a sacrifice that they could afford?
As much as I may be complaining, I’m thankful that- for the most part- we’ll have some time together as a family this holiday season. I cooked for our kin that can make it, and lit a candle for those that couldn’t. It’s entering the end of the semester, which is a busy time for the students and teachers alike, and we have both in Dwight’s side of the family. I’m thankful for the chance to do what I love and teach biology to undergraduates. I’m thankful to have my dissertation done and submitted, and my hooding coming up. I’m thankful for the families that I’ve seen through the family building process, and child-free friends who remind me of my more carefree days before kids (and let Kenny and I participate in their big Random Acts of Kindness endeavors).
Being thankful for these things makes me want similar privileges- family, friends, living wages, education- for other families as well.
By Lisa Regula-Meyer
I’m a biologist, and as such, I care about the words we use for things. Words, especially names, in biology mean a lot- they can tell us details about who an organism is related to or similar to, or some of that thing’s history (where it was found, who described it), and they can be very descriptive like the newly discovered ligament in the knee. It’s being called the “antero-lateral ligament” because it’s found on the lateral (outside) side of the knee, and is anteriorly placed (or closer to the abdomen than the foot). Names of things can also give an idea of when it was discovered, as trends in names have changed greatly over time, from being more honorific to being more descriptive. Yeah, I kind of like etymology.
While there’s a ton of thought that goes into naming something in biology that we don’t think of going into naming everyday objects like “cat” or “ball,” to a person just learning any language, there can be a lot of thought in figuring out what words like “cat” and “ball” mean. This is even more the case for new learners of any language- young children. Trying to discern how general a term like “cat” or “ball” is, and how large a group it encompasses- deciphering what makes a ball a ball and not a cat- is tough work. My cat is rather large and often curled into a spherical shape- will she bounce like a ball does? This new ball is soft and squishy like the cat- why doesn’t it make sound? From an adult perspective, these questions are ridiculous and sound like something a person on drugs would come up with, but to someone who is figuring out the meanings of words for the first time, they’re valid questions.
And then there are proper nouns, that have a specific thing to which they’re tied, but of course those terms are not marked in some way in verbal communication. Thus, every bearded man wearing flannel becomes “Uncle Mark” until we learn otherwise. Possibly the most difficult are those terms that can be specific or general, like “grandma” or “doctor.” As adults, we know these terms are roles, and act as descriptors for the names with which they’re attached- I am Dr. Regula Meyer, noting both who I am and what I do; “Grandma Sue” tells both the specific person and the very important group of people to whom she belongs, grandmas.
Lately, Kenny’s been figuring this out with me as we talk about common names and species names, and he’s learning that not all “finches” are the same type of “finches” and how to tell them apart. We’ve even stocked up on our bird feeder supplies, in hopes of continuing watching and learning through the winter. Miss E, on the other hand, is learning more simple levels of this discussion, and trying to figure out family configurations. What roles are there in a family, who fills them, and what do you call them? She’s made the mistake a few times of calling either daddy or papa by the term “mama” because they were doing something that the “mamas” of her classmates do- baking, hugging, reading, and whatnot. I’m sympathetic to this plight, while I can laugh at it, remembering all the times that Kenny has (and still does) call me “dad” or Dwight “mama.” It’s rough building all those neural pathways to fix a language in your brain. Even harder is having to make all those connections on your own, without someone who speaks “Babyese” to help explain the nuances.
Speaking seriously, this is why reading and talking to children is so important, so that they can experience words in multiple scenarios and make those connections, generalizations, and specifics more quickly. Taking a more light-hearted approach, it makes for great stories when they’re older, about incorrect or inappropriate use of words as they were still practicing these language skills. And finally, from a more reflective position, thinking about all the work that goes on to try and communicate, even with people closest to you and whom you hold dear, might give us a bit of appreciation for the tough life of a child, how they can expend so much energy and get tired so quickly, and maybe why tantrums happen to frustrated, tired kiddos who have spent all day trying to decide just what exactly “blue” means.
By Lisa Regula Meyer
Over the weekend, our family was enjoying some down time and relaxing by watching old episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise. Nothing surprising or extraordinary about that, as we’re huge science fiction/fantasy geeks. The episode on was “Cogenitor,” a story of first contact with an alien species that has three sexes instead of two, and thus uses third party reproduction obligatorily. If you enjoy Star Trek, you know of the Prime Directive- a sort of Hippocratic oath for space exploration- that states a priority on non-interference in other cultures and their development. The introduction of a third sex and third party reproduction obviously got my interest, and this portrayal of third party reproduction was not much different from other portrayals in the media, like Baby Mama, or the “Friends” episode where Phoebe serves as a gestational surrogate for her brother, among others. There are hierarchies, possibilities for exploitation, qualitatively different life histories and possibilities, all the fun themes that keep surrogacy misunderstood and surrogates stereotyped (here I give a huge hat-tip to The Next Family for helping to change so many stereotypes- thank you!).
I know enough surrogates to know that this stereotype is far from the full story, but like all stereotypes, there is a small percent of people who do fit the stereotype, and one shared characteristic is enough for humans to lump lots of diversity and variation into one loose-fitting category. Our brains have evolved to categorize things, to make decisions simple and quick, because a wrong decision for a hunter or gatherer could have been deadly. Today, our brains are far too good at categorizing for our own good, and those quick decisions often get us into deep doo-doo.
Oysters make similar quick decisions when they are presented with something unusual, a grain of sand or a bit of broken shell, for example. It takes that small source of irritation and adds layer after layer of complexity to create a pearl, something unique and valued. What started the formation of that pearl was something unpleasant and not that valuable, but we almost entirely ignore that small grain in the center of the pearl in favor of the everything that came after it; it’s no longer seen as a grain of sand, but as a pearl, something totally different. For our part, we do things slightly differently. We take that small defining characteristic- be it race, ethnicity, gender, orientation- and use that as the basis for defining an individual. We ignore all the complex layers that the world and the individual have added to make a unique, beautiful individual. We see humans as inverted pearls, with the beauty on the inside.
What I’d like to see, and what I’m seeing more of every year, is seeing that individuality as the beauty that it is. I’m going to take a bit of creative license and totally reinterpret the saying “The world is my oyster” at this point. The world IS our oyster- it gives us experiences and challenges that are often a response to our identity, makes us a more complex person because of that experience, and makes us so much more valuable than those categories that we’re initially put into as a part of our identity. And not just us, this process happens to everyone; we are all so much more than the sum of our parts. Thank you, The Next Family and readers, for seeing the beauty in diversity and the value in all people. You’re helping to create a future that is far more interesting and accessible, and I appreciate that.
By: Lisa Regula- Meyer
The school year is in full swing now in Kent, and we’re heartily enjoying life with a second grader. Specifically, we’re enjoying this second grader and his second grade class. This year, our school is trying out a mixed 1st and 2nd grade classroom. Two teachers, two student teachers, and two grades in an extra large room (really two rooms with a collapsible wall between them that’s not used very often now). Kenny’s been thrilled about it so far, and seems to be doing well with this new set-up, in part because the first grade teacher was his teacher last year, and he really enjoyed working with her. We’re glad that he has another year in a safe place where he enjoys learning, and his official teacher for this year has a similar pedagogy and manner to his first grade teacher. His daily pattern is familiar, he’s making progress on school work, and meeting new friends.
I may not work with young kids, but I do teach, and I take my profession seriously. So much in education is bad news- rising tuition, rising student loan amounts, another assessment added to the schedule, and test prep taking more and more time away from teaching. With all of that, it’s great seeing innovation and child-centered learning still making its way into some areas. Classrooms being treated like research, following evidenced-based practices and contributing to that evidence, trusting teachers to take leadership of their own classrooms, those are the things that I like to hear happening.
In my own classrooms, I’m trying some new things, as well, like virtual presentations and some new lab activities. It’s surprising how different things feel with just a little bit of a difference; those little changes make such a big deal in overall outlook. For me, seeing changes in my syllabus come together, and seeing how other people shape their classrooms for the students (with supportive administrators, even!)
By: Lisa Regula Meyer
Three ways to create a family frequently discussed on The Next Family include gestational surrogate, traditional surrogate, and adoption. There are far more other ways, but I wanted to focus on these three because it’s an area where there is frequently some confusion. As a reminder, “gestational surrogacy” is when a woman (the GS) outside of a couple carries a child that is not related to her for the recipient couple, the intended parents (IPs). The child may be the genetic child of one or two of the people in the IP couple or not, depending on how the couple goes about the surrogacy process. “Traditional surrogacy” is when a woman (the TS) outside of the IP couple carries a child that is related to herself, her own biological child and the half sibling of her own children. Usually the child is related to one of the IPs. Adoption concerns an existing pregnancy for the birth mother, and the child is placed with an adoptive family, to whom it does not have a parent-child genetic connection.
There are benefits and drawbacks to each of these methods, and finding the correct balance of benefits and drawbacks depends on the parties involved. Gestational surrogacy tends to have a more sure ending legally, and if there is a child created it is 99% likely going to go home with the intended parents, since the child was created/intended for them, and the surrogate has no genetic link to the child. Traditional surrogacy tends to be less expensive, and does not involve the use of in vitro fertilization (IVF), but is seen as riskier for the parents since the surrogate has a genetic tie to the child. The infamous Baby M case was a traditional surrogacy. Adoption is the most legally risky, as birth mothers can rescind their decision and choose to parent instead of abdicate her parental rights and responsibilities within a set period of time. The child was not created with the intent of the adoptive parents, so legally, they are typically seen as having fewer rights than intended parents. We’ve seen the outcome of this policy discussed by The Next Family writers, and it’s painful.
I wanted to address this in writing in one place here because there is an important distinction between surrogacy of either type and adoption- the matter of intent. That the child was created with the intention of the parents is crucial legally, and ends up being important in how we view these constructs socially. I’ve been both a GS and TS myself, so I have first-hand experience with those processes. I’ve often had well-meaning people call my role as TS “birth mother” because birth mother in an adoption case is more familiar than a TS is, and it’s easy for them to understand and convey to others. But being simplistic in this manner ignores intent and adds a layer of assumptions about identity that I don’t appreciate all that much. I do know some TSs that identify as birth mothers, but it’s not common and not always healthy, resulting in a blurring of lines and creating a feeling of loss that I don’t think anyone should have to endure.
Socially, we often see adoption situations with a particular lens- a mother losing or giving up her child, a child being given away or not wanted in the first place- and assuming that there is a loss in that situation. A family is created, yes, but a parent and child are separated, something that we see as a bad thing (look at the Baby Veronica case and how contentious it has become). That loss is not assumed in a surrogacy situation, because there is no family that is broken up, only a family that is formed. That’s a joyful situation and should be celebrated, however it happens. Obviously, there are cases where a surrogacy can end up hurting the surrogate as well, but from what I’ve seen it’s usually not the case, and if it does occur, the pain is due to something outside the birth of the child, the relationship with IPs, extended bed rest or stress on her own family, and other reasons.
Identity is important as it frames how we see ourselves and how the world sees us. Because of that, I think it’s important to remember the full complexity of a situation and embrace that complexity instead of trying to simplify, and it’s especially important to recognize people by their chosen identity, not one that we wish to use for them out of simplicity. Our identities take time and thought to form, so taking time and effort to recognize them correctly is appropriate.
By: Lisa Regula Meyer
In keeping with the theme of additions started by the kittens, we’ve added another member to the family. Specifically, my mother in law has remarried a high school friend, and the man that introduced her to my father in law. I’m happy for them, the groom seems like a great guy (and Dwight asserts this is the case, and Dwight’s known the groom since he was young). They seem infinitely happy, and summer is a season in my life that needs additions to balance the subtractions, so it’s all good. I’m also optimistic that the groom’s longstanding friendship with the father in law might make for less strenuous holiday trips; only having to do one giant holiday bash for each holiday would be amazing.
The nice thing about blending of families for adult children is the limited functional changes that occur. In my experience, I enjoy not having to adjust too much to a new member of the family, and the limited potential for negative interactions that come with that. We get the benefit of a new addition and expanded family without the messiness of blending two families into one. At least that’s how it was with my second step father compared to my first. We’ll see what this new transition brings, but I’m positive about the situation.
My one concern is names and how to refer to people. Dwight’s dad is very happy with his title of “Grandpa,” a title that he doesn’t share with any living person, as my step dad is “Mr. Dusty” in Kenny’s eyes. I don’t want to take something as important a part of his identity away from Dwight’s dad by calling the groom “Grandpa” also. Dwight’s mom has already started that trend, but Dwight and I are leaning toward “Mr. David” instead. The groom has yet to express any preference, and seems comfortable with whatever (can I say that his laid-back temperament is a huge plus?). Kenny has enough problem with names that the groom will probably be “What’s your name again?” for a year or more.
I am, and will probably always remain, a staunch supporter of respecting self-identity, whether that’s in gender, name, career, whatever. You get to choose what other people call you, and the forms of address you respond to. I also tend to think of family less in terms of bloodlines and more as “chosen family,” be it chosen through adoption, friendship, foster care, or some other tie. It’s acting like a family that makes a family, not genetics, as far as I’m concerned.
At the same time, we’re constantly defining not just ourselves, but our relationships to one another. How many jokes and comedy skits have featured the scenario where a new couple are figuring out terms of endearment or relationship status? The awkward “So… are we boyfriend and girlfriend?” moment in high school comes to mind. It’s a human trait- we like to name and group things. If the person is has no preferred title or name, but others are identifying him/her in more way than one, what’s the “correct” term? Is there such as thing as “correct term”? Companies and individuals pay big money for naming rights to sports centers, stadiums, and other buildings; who has naming rights in a child’s relationship? Only time will tell. Besides, as The Bard once said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet.”