I Have Not Yet Begun to Mock

by Marinka on June 15, 2010

Yes, I’m still mulling over the whole Abby Sunderland adventure.

Frankly, when I wrote the post on Friday morning, after she was found safe and sound (as safe and sound as you can be in the middle of the fucking ocean, alone) I fully expected to be awarded some kind of a Pulitzer for my brave reporting, or perhaps the Nobel Prize of Common Sense and Fantastic Parenting.

Instead, I got a debate and a discussion on other blogs about whether I was Miss Judgypants.


Like it’s my fault that Abby’s parents are dumbasses.

(Disclaimer: I fully support spirited debate on my blog and I truly do not have any hard feelings for the misguided souls who disagree with me. )

But since last Friday, I learned some new and fun things about Abby’s family. I read these things online and in The New York Post.  I have no idea if they’re true.  I’m not a journalist and I’m not here to verify facts.  I’m starting to suspect that this is why I am, to date, Pulitzer-free.

* She is one of seven kids, and they are all homeschooled. This puts things in perspective for me.  Because if I were homeschooling even one child, I’d be signing her up for intergalactic travel by the time we were doing long division.

* Her mother is pregnant with what I assume is child number 8, although my math is great. (But rhyming is certainly a strong point!)  This means that her mother has been pregnant off and on for nearly 20 years.  I take my hat off to her.

* The family is broke! I’m not an economist, but I wonder if there’s a correlation between the number of children and their finances.  Probably not.  The mom probably just likes to buy a lot of make up.

* The father signed up the family to be on a reality show!  Sort of like a modern The Swiss Family Robinson.  So of course this is a biggie, and not just because no one knows exactly who the hell the Swiss Family Robinson are and if they’re somehow related to Swiss Miss pudding snacks.  But it didn’t take long for the accusations to start flying, accusing the father of selling out his family and being like the UFO-balloon boy’s father.  That I totally disagree with.  Because the UFO-balloon boy’s father gave us something special:  two kickass hours of television, as we united as a country to watch some tinfoil float across our beautiful country.

Seriously, there’s a lot that I could say about the reality TV aspect of it, but so much of it is obvious, so I won’t insult your intelligence by spelling it out.

* Except, oh NO!  the mom says that Adventures in Sunderland has been shelved because the developed couldn’t find a buyer! Sad.

* California’s child protective service agency approved Abby’s trip! Apparently they interviewed Abby and were so impressed with her answers about the ocean, that they gave her the go-ahead.  Seriously, I hope that they never come to my house because Young Ladrinka would blow their minds with his extensive Pokemon knowledge and I’d hate to have them approve his trip to an alternate version of earth.

You know, the one where parents allowing their 16 year olds to sail around the world unassisted and solo is okay.


Reminder!  Last day to enter my iGo charger giveaway! Don’t let your teenager sail the high seas without it!

One year ago ...

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

June 15, 2010 at 10:18 am

fantastic post. i really haven’t been following Abby’s story post-lost at sea, so i didn’t know any of that info about the family. i’ll definitely be sticking to my opinions of them, and that her adventure was to make money, get a book deal, talks shows, etc. as soon as i read your first line about the reality show my mind went to balloon boy and could her “issues” at sea have been a ploy to reel in a network, since she is supposed to be so qualified at sailing and stuff. of course, i’m very happy that she is safe and sound, and that nothing tragic transpired. i thought your previous “Abby” post was spot on, so forget the haters, Marinka. people are judging this family on the web and at the dining room table. i support you and your bid for a Nobel Prize. take care.

ps – my son wants to start watching Pokemon. is that a can of worms best left un-opened?


Alias Mother June 15, 2010 at 10:56 am

Hey! I object to being called a hater! I am, at best, a mild curmudgeon with questionable boundaries.

Otherwise, I bow out. I think I’ve said my peace on this and anything further taps too much into my Earnest Energy, which I need to save up because I intend to confront a puppy kicker later on today.


Marinka June 15, 2010 at 10:56 am

I just want to clarify that I really don’t consider people who criticized my post as being judgmental to be haters. Sadly.


Liz June 15, 2010 at 10:24 am

I am totally with you on this one. And I do not think that you are being overly judgmental. I am relieved that Abby is safe. But I think an underlying issue that needs to be addressed is why the push to do everything so young? I think that this sort of environment cultivates an attention addict that will never feel fulfilled or satisfied with her life.


MarathonMom June 15, 2010 at 10:54 am

Why does everyone need a reality show just to live their lives??


June 15, 2010 at 10:59 am

Prepare for the homeschooler attack.


sdog June 15, 2010 at 11:29 am

Hey, been following your blog for a while and finally had to chime in on this one. I agree with you 100% – this family’s nuts. Believe me, I do get it. My parents were immigrants and scared of their own shadows. And if their children’s dreams didn’t include something math or science related, they didn’t see the point of encouraging them. I hope that I’ll be more open-minded and less hovering. But there’s a big difference between not letting your high school daughter try out for the school play or go to the movies with her friends [lingering resentment? of course not :)] than not letting her SAIL AROUND THE WORLD SOLO. I heard that the American Sailing Association wouldn’t sponsor her because they believed the voyage to be too dangerous, and it was about more than just her age. I’m not saying that Abby shouldn’t be admired for her go-get-em attitude. But I would think that the role of a good parent would be assess all the risks involved and decide what’s in the best interests of their kid, even if it means disappointing her. And in this case, the right call would have been to encourage her to go sailing somewhere else, maybe somewhere that didn’t entail her being out at sea for a year in stormy waters. Just my two cents.


Jen June 15, 2010 at 11:35 am

Is it really so terrible to be judgmental? I judge my neighbors across the street for letting their 13 year old keep guns in his room. My own personal good judgment says this is not a good idea and I have decided my children are not allowed to play over at that particular house. Now maybe that means I’m trying to stifle this 13 year old’s dream of being the world’s youngest expert marksman or maybe it means that I have a brain in my head and I use it consider individual situations and decide what I think about them. Or, you know, judge them.

Seriously, everyone is judgmental sometimes, even if it’s just to judge people for people too judgmental.


Joanna June 15, 2010 at 11:52 am

PLEASE continue to mock!

First of all because I find you totally amusing and entertaining and frankly, that’s why I read your blog.
Second of all, I sail. As someone who’s been out on a boat pretty regularly and in some rough seas I’m aware of how hard, both physically and mentally, sailing is. My husband (a grown up) is going out to sea for a year (a whole other story) and I’m freaking out. At 16? Her parents are nuts.


June 15, 2010 at 11:54 am

“Seriously, everyone is judgmental sometimes, even if it’s just to judge people for people too judgmental.”

Jen hit the nail on the head. Seriously.

Oh, and I think her parents are fucking crazy. Fo’ Sho’


Joie June 15, 2010 at 12:05 pm

I don’t have children yet. I do hear them though when I am in my local high end Walmart. They make me want to send them out on small boats in the ocean. Or drown myself. Either way.

I don’t care how “mature” you are as a 16 year old. Maturity is not going to keep dirty pirates away, mother nature from flipping your boat, or seagulls from crapping on you. Or Jaws away. Jaws is scary. Pointy teeth thing.

Yay Abby for wanting to have something completely hers. But at 16, responsible parenting seems it would dictate that there would be another human on board with her (adult) but letting her do all the actual boating. Or at the very least having an adult or two in a separate boat trailing behind. World record? Really? Your child’s life is worth that? Dream or not, don’t be a dumb ass.


Halala Mama
June 15, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I agree with you on almost every point. People are NUTS. The best parents I know, with the BEST kids, don’t hand over the family car keys without a full fledged interview and a curfew, let alone let them go around the world.


Antropologa June 15, 2010 at 12:31 pm

This story just keeps getting better and better! Thanks for keeping me up-to-date. It all sounds like a publicity thing to me. Crazy people.


June 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm

I am not one of those misguided souls who disagrees with you. Certainly not very often anyway, and definitely not about Abby Sunderland.


The Vamp Tramp June 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Wait. They’re broke? Really? Hm. Here comes my judgemental side ’cause, um… don’t these sail boats cost a pretty penny??


June 15, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I am so SICK of these parents foisting their children upon us for profit. Thank GOD I was able to escape to the movies this weekend to see “The Karate Kid”, starring Jaden Smith.


June 15, 2010 at 1:28 pm

I wish I could like this comment.


Maggie May June 15, 2010 at 10:48 pm

If Peajaye’s comment was not intended to be ironic, then
hell, what else can I say?


June 15, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Well, the reality show thing is NOT surprising in the slightest. I’m assuming they were bucking for Wife Swap and not Supernanny.


June 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm

One of the best debates I had on my blog was about the radical unschoolers homeschoolers. Fascinating to read the comments. There are so many different types of parenting styles out there. And everyone thinks they are right.

Do you remember that free range kids post I emailed you awhile ago where the mother let child run around town and one day the kid got hit by a car. Yeah. I tend to be a lot more of a helicopter parent. I’m glad you have the courage to say what I was thinking.


June 15, 2010 at 5:40 pm

That post of yours? Was awesome. Shit the parents themselves attacked you. Now that could have made a good reality show. 🙂


Tiffany June 15, 2010 at 3:24 pm

reality show? this whole situation has a little ‘balloon boy’ stank on it…


Liza June 15, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Let people say whatever they please, THAT was the funniest thing I have read in a long time and I don’t want you to ever stop! LOL


Heather, Queen of Shake Shake June 15, 2010 at 3:42 pm

How does a broke family afford a boat? I’m highly curious, because, fuck, I’d like to own one too. Can they do a reality show on that instead? How To Afford Expensive Ass Hobbies While Having 8 Kids.

I’m not surprised at the reactions of both sides of the argument. We experienced it firsthand with our 9-year-old and how people reacted to what he was doing at his young age. Some people were against us and did what they could to make us stop, while others staunchly supported us. And the most dangerous thing about his work? The fucking car drive there. Seriously. But they were all worried about safety and liability.

I guess I have that whole experience to temper my perspective. That, or I’m just too lazy to get worked up about it. It’s VERY hot down here already, which induces more laziness.


Heather, Queen of Shake Shake June 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Oh, and just so you know my Swami training is far from completion, would you like to know what I DO judge?

Parents whose kids are on behavior-mod medications but feed them junk and call it food.


Sophie@Fabrications June 16, 2010 at 4:20 am

Damn right!


Backpacking Dad June 15, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Congratulations to Abby for making it to the Indian Ocean in a crapshod boat.

The family should absolutely be held responsible for the costs associated with a rescue. Not because they were stupid or reckless or bad parents or whatever, but because those were real costs, buried in the projections of “what is it going to take for Abby to pursue her goal” that, failing to be considered, have the world taking part in Abby’s adventure without agreeing to participate. I don’t get to say “I’m going to be the first man on Mars” and then say “please provide me with rocket fuel because I have a dream, world.” That’s the real short-sighted, suburban illness that’s behind the tragedy: not bad parenting, but bad citizenship.

I don’t really care if someone lets their kid sail around the world. They’re great parents if it works and failures if it doesn’t. While teen heroes abound in history, those were teen adults; we’ve moved beyond history and are, most of us, adult teens. Our perspective demands the extension of our adolescence, which means protecting everything from everything. If Abby succeeds, she chips away at our myth, and that frightens us, because maybe it means we can’t celebrate youth culture anymore, young as it makes us feel when we are older. If she fails we are confirmed in our selfish protectionism that insists teens and their interests remain toys for adults to play with. Adolescence used to be short, and finite, ending with childbirth or ceremony. This was Abby’s ceremony. And she’ll be a better adult than most of us, because she’s jumped into it with both feet while we stick a toe in the water here and there and usually judge it too cold before we flip on TMZ to find out what Lindsay Lohan was up to.

Of course, if she died there’s no adult to celebrate. But there are few enough worth celebrating anyway, so why not desperately encourage our species to mature before we all atrophy?

Also, Abby’s parents are nuts, obviously.


June 15, 2010 at 5:37 pm

They asked CPS? Okay, I’ll give them points for that one. I still wouldn’t do it.


Kate Coveny Hood
June 15, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Love this. Actually laughed out loud. My favorites were “intergalactic travel ” and the image of Ladrinka’s pokemon voyage.

Still agree with you and now feel much better about my own use of the term “dumbass” in previous comments.


elenka June 15, 2010 at 6:38 pm

You are my hero!
Yeah, I told ya the parents already told ‘them’, “geez, we have no money to pay for the rescue.”
Dah, didn’t they think (and hope) that if something ever happened to her, that ‘someone’ would have to rescue her at great expense and danger? Shouldn’t that have been part of the big picture? Who did they even call??
I can’t even believe that ‘someone’ was able to find her puny boat in the entire Indian Ocean. They are darn lucky.
Idiots, but lucky.


empress bee (of the high sea) June 15, 2010 at 10:16 pm

i’m with elenka. who, by the way, sent me here but that’s another story. reality show my fat rear end. just like that bubble boy nitwit family. please continue to be judgmental and i’ll be back…

smiles, bee


Maggie May June 15, 2010 at 10:51 pm

The whole ‘judge and you are judging thing’ = I judge what I KNOW. That was what my point was, not that I am a sanctimonious bitch who never judges. The point I made was laid out clearly in my comment, and it wasn’t ‘ don’t ever judge ‘. Marinka you work it. Maybe you’ll get a whole new blogging community out of this. You could call it Motherhood In NYC. Or wait…that would be like creating a Reality Show based on your life!? And why would anyone do that?
Oh damn. I couldn’t keep it shut. Stop with the posts Marinka! I have no self control, clearly. I plead being 16 weeks pregnant with my fourth kid and working full time. Does a number on you. Hey it’s like Howard STern says, I don’t care if they love me or hate me, they’re still listening…


soccermom June 16, 2010 at 11:01 am

I agree what the hell is up with everyone wanting to share their lives with the world.

I have to say there are some families I really could care less about seeing what goes on in their lives.
Isnt there a freakin screening process before they just throw this shit on TV?


Crisanna June 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Ok, ok…I think everyone is missing the point here. The real issue at stake is what does Husbandrinka think of you being referred to as “MISS Judgypants???”

Sheesh – priorities, people.


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