MALIBU-If the last one was a case of "baby one more time", maybe this is a case of "oops, I did it again." Long-troubled pop princess Britney Spears reportedly returned to the Promises treatment and rehabilitation center on Wednesday night, this time with her mother, Lynne Spears, in tow; Britney's mother has long been an advocate of her daughter getting help, for the sake of her children with estranged husband Kevin Federline.

This is the third time in two weeks Spears has entered rehab; her previous two stints lasted only a day apiece, and were separated by nighttime parties and carousing and a memorable self-performed head shave at a salon in Tarzana.

But this time, information has come to light about the fate of Spears' children, Sean Preston (age one) and Jayden James (age five months); Federline will watch the children while Spears undergoes rehabilitation, a program slated to take between thirty and forty-five days-though Britney's schedule as of late allows for skepticism that she will complete that term of service.

Previously, Federline had called for an emergency family law court session, presumably in order to get control of his children, though details were never made public. Federline has already attempted to get sole custody of, and spousal support for, the children, but joint custody rules are active through February.

The newly bald songstress will of course not be attending any hearing, which Federline's lawyer has cancelled without explanation, possibly in response to Britney's return to rehab; some skeptical commentators believe that Spears is deliberately faking attempts to deal with her oncoming nervous breakdown by flitting in and out of rehab in order to delay court proceedings and keep her children.

Federline and Spears' family and management have expressed their desires to maintain Spears' privacy and to focus energy on helping her through this difficult time. Spears is "a sick little girl," according to her father's statement to Fox News.

While court appearances are postponed for the moment, the court of public opinion is not on Spears' side; her twice-turned escape from rehab for a party lifestyle has not gone unnoticed, and it is unlikely that her tearful head-shaving episode will soon be forgotten. While many speculate pessimistically on the future of her children, others hope she will make it through all right; late-night talk show host Craig Ferguson delivered an emotional monologue about his own dark times and said he would not joke about the starlet.

Still, it is hard not to wonder if Spears will actually stay in rehab this time.

Categories: Rehab