Math: What Not to Name a Child

May 13 2011

I’m  very good at math.

I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I’m not sure it’s bragging when you simply state the truth.

Oh, sure.  When I was in 5th grade, I had to go to “special school” because I refused to memorize my multiplication tables.

So that might indicate a spotty history with the subject, but, honestly, no one had convinced me yet that the Times Tables were very important.  And 10-year-old me felt that every bit of larnin’ that was shoved down my throat should be justified.  In writing.  And that it should go through an approval process.  And that I should then be able to do whatever I felt like doing.

Gosh.  Isn’t it weird that I ended up with all these stubborn, opinionated kids?  I just don’t know how that could’ve happened to compliant me.

But, by the time I was in 7th grade, I was in advanced math.  Go, me!  (My parents probably had whip-lash.)  And I stayed in those advanced classes until I nearly failed 11th grade Trig.  Then I retired from math.  Because, like Michael Jordan, it’s important to retire while you’re at the top of your game.  And because Calculus would’ve killed me.

In fact, I’m SO very good at math that I recently had this conversation with Abby, my own 7th grader:

Abby: Mom, you can’t help me with math because, no offense, you’re bad at it.

Me: I’m bad at math or at helping you with it?

Abby: Does it matter?  You can’t help either way.

Huh.  So there’s a different perspective.  I learn more and more from my kids every day.

And from my husband.  Who’s good at math.

Greg was in advanced math in 7th grade, just like me!  And in Trig in 11th grade, just like me, too!

He got an “A” in Trig, but whatever.  It’s mostly the same as me.

And then he took Calculus in 12th grade and got an “A” then, too.  Which I totally could’ve done, except I didn’t want to.

And then he graduated valedictorian from high school.  While I was home for half of my senior year, faking bronchitis.

And then Greg went to college, where he majored in math and graduated with highest honors.

Did I mention I was in advanced math in 7th grade?

This is how much Greg loves math:

He wanted to use it as the first name of one of our twins.

It’s true.

Not Matt.  Not Matthew.

Math.  As in, ematics.

He might have been kidding.  But I’m still not sure.

The problem was, Greg had justification.  Of sorts.

Did you know Math is an actual, real name?  According to, “records indicate that at least 18 boys have been named Math since 1880 in the United States.”

At least 18!  That’s, like, 18 more than I thought there were.

Nevertheless, I put my foot down on Math.  I was very firm.  Saddling a kid with “Math?”  Um, no.


Really.  No.

Instead, we used it as a middle name.

See how firm I am?  Like I said, VERY.

OK.  Truthfully, we didn’t use just Math… we ended up intentionally misspelling Matthew.


A nod to my husband, the mathematics major.  And the name means Gift of God, which I love.

And, um, I think it’s funny that it says Math. Ew.

Because I’m 12 years old.

But I just thought of the whole Math. Ew. thing, so I swear it wasn’t a premeditated, passive-aggressive attack on my husband’s baby-naming disability.

Really.  I’m not passive-aggressive.  Passive is right out.

So our kid is going to end up spelling and respelling and explaining Mathew for the rest of his life.  And getting confused with his brother because of the matchy-matchy twin names we didn’t intend to give.  You’re welcome, Cai Cai.  Special present from us to you.

We should have our kid-naming license revoked.

Which is probably one of many reasons my brother, Jeff, and his wife, Kim, haven’t let us weigh in on naming their baby.

The baby that should fall out, already.  (That was just for you, Krista S!  I’m grinning at ya.  I hope I have more to report soon!)


P.S.  Just to clarify… I’m not a math basher.  I swear.  Math is good.  But it’s also mysterious and weird.  And I think there might be magic spells involved.

Seriously.  Did that say “eye of newt?”

Yes.  I think it did.  But I’ll leave that to you mathematicians.  Let your conscience be your guide.