When it comes to crazy baby names, an Australian couple has moved the proverbial goal post.
In a magazine article, a Gold Coast mom admitted that she always loved the name Kaitlyn, but felt it was too common. So Dad had a solution: mix it up with Roman numerals to make the sound "ait." Hence, KVIIIlyn.
“Kreaytiv spelling at its finest, because every child should be yooneek in every way,” wrote a commenter on Reddit.
The comment may be funny, but it's hardly far-fetched. Our children may be one of a kind, but their names needn't be. Sadly, in our quest to find truly unique names for our little darlings, our choices sometimes stray into ludicrous territory.
Sure, it sucks when you're the third Jen (or Julie!) in your class. But isn't it a far better fate to be common than to be the laughing stock of your classmates — not to mention the bane of your teacher's existence?
The irony with unusual spellings is that they are destined to be abbreviated or simplified until they are easily recognizable. So despite her parents' wishes, KVIII will ultimately wind up being Kait anyway. So much for originality!
In Australia, anything goes in the naming department, so long as it isn't overtly offensive or obscene. But other countries have stricter parameters that parents must adhere to when naming babies. Roman numerals, for instance, wouldn't fly here in Canada — unless you live in Alberta.
In some countries, like Denmark and Iceland, parents are only allowed to choose their child's name from a set list of a few thousand names. New Zealand even has a list of banned names. While it may seem like a violation of basic rights, some parents clearly abuse that freedom and cannot be trusted to exercise common sense.
In time, a whole generation of kids may grow to resent their parents and HVIII their given name.
Many schools in the UK have moved beyond the gender-neutral bathroom debate and are changing the policy regarding uniforms, to allow kids to wear the clothes they identify with - be it skirts or pants.
In a bid to be more sensitive to transgender children, an estimated 80 schools - including 40 elementary schools - have revised their uniform policy to allow boys to wear skirts or pinafores, and girls to wear pants.
"Everybody has the right to be themselves - that was the impetus for it," said Paula Weaver, the Head of Allens Croft School in Birmingham. "We do lots of work through literature and drama and we talk to children about the fact we have someone who was assigned male at birth who is saying 'I'm a girl.' It's about being open with them and about everyone feeling OK."
Children as young as four and five years old now have a choice to dress according to the gender they identify with. While many groups fear the move could prove "confusing" to young students, parents have largely been supportive of the change, which has not resulted in tons of boys suddenly wearing skirts. It has simply put the option out there.
For one mom, Emma Symonds, the change spells relief. Her four year-old Logan adores wearing dresses and playing with dolls. Previously Logan would throw tantrums at having to wear "male clothes." He now wears a pinafore to school.
Obviously four is young to formally label a child as transgender due only to their choice in clothing. While kids may not be able to put into words their feelings, even by four or five many readily identify with a certain gender and shouldn't be forced into being something they're not.
Having neutral uniforms is a great step in taking the pressure off kids from feeling they must strictly conform to a certain identity.
Having said that, wouldn't the obvious solution be to remove gendered uniforms entirely? A single uniform for all children. Shorts or pants depending on the season, simple.
Yes, those pleated skirts are cute. But there's no good practical reason I can see for separate uniforms (at least not here in Canada where girls suffer through the harsh elements for a good part of the school year).
One uniform. That's the true definition of gender neutral.
I'm all for art and freedom of expression, but I draw the line when art manipulates kids for its own purpose. Case in point: a New Jersey photographer recreated key scenes from The Walking Dead using a group of 24 young children - including her own kids, aged three and five.
Alana Hubbard's images see the children simulating scenes from the series, namely "Carol shooting the young girl Lizzie in the head, villain Negan preparing to smack someone with a baseball bat covered in barbed wire, and Daryl Dixon escaping a pack of zombies on his motorcycle."
Hubbard likens her photos to kids "playing modern-day cops and robbers," and sees nothing wrong with the shoot, which took place in the woods.
Do children love to play dress up? Hallowe'en was invented for that purpose. But typically dress-up comes from the fertile grounds of kids' own imagination. It's not meticulously staged by adults. Nor does dress-up usually involve violent and morbid montages.
"I think it's pretty sick for you to expose children to the show or these ideas in general," wrote a commenter. "Would you let them pose or 'pretend' for Fifty Shades of Grey? Equally disturbing. What a bummer for you to use your talent and public forum in this way."
Even though some of the bloodied effects were added via Photoshop, social media came running with pitchforks at the ready. Facebook pulled, then quickly reinstated, the photos.
"Art is subjective,'' Hubbard said. "Art creates emotion. If everyone just posts lollipop and gumdrop photos, what's the point of that? If this was an off-Broadway show featuring children as The Walking Dead cast, do you think there would be any outrage?"
Yes, there would, probably.
While I wouldn't go so far as to criticize Hubbard's parenting skills, I do question her professional judgment in this case. There's nothing wrong with pushing the envelope when it comes to art. And not all art involving children has to be about "lollipops and gumdrops." But involving children purely for 'shock value' feels cheap and irresponsible.
Hubbard admits that all the backlash will be worth it if it leads "to [her work] being recognized by the show."
Image Source: Facebook