Britney Spears by John Sciulli/WireImage.com Britney Spears by John Sciulli/WireImage.com

Britney Spears was amazingly (and yet... not) a no-show at Wednesday's custody hearing, instead spending her afternoon hanging with her dog, making a Starbucks run and getting a gas-station fill-up. The judge made it clear that he wants Super Mom on hand for the next hearing on Oct. 26, and nonetheless granted her closely supervised visitations with sons Sean Something and The Other One. Asked to defend his client's absence, Spears' lawyer told reporters outside the Los Angeles courthouse, "It's totally inappropriate... to make a comment on an active case without [Britney's] expressed permission." And she was busy nursing her iced grande skim latte.

Kevin Federline, however, was at the hearing, because, as his lawyer notes, "He felt it was important for the court to see who he is and to be there should the court [want] to ask him anything." K-Fed in fact was rocking an eye patch (due to an infection), a fashion statement that a year ago would have invited snarky derision, but now looks positively erudite compared to his ex's antics.

Spears' Aunt Chandra, meanwhile, is begging for her kin to return home to Louisiana, telling the New York Daily News, "We fear that one day we may turn on the TV [and see] that she's done something terrible to herself." Something like... Chaotic?

UPDATE: Some good (non-maternal) news for Ms. Spears. The first single off her new album, "Gimme More," this week topped Billboard's Hot Digital Songs chart with 179,000 downloads, and jumped from No. 68 to No. 3 on Billboard's Hot 100.