Math: What Not to Name a Child

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.

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12 responses to “Math: What Not to Name a Child”

  1. ‘Math’ is also the name of 1 of the heroes of the great Welsh epic The Mabinogion. Math must have his feet held by a virgin at all times except when he’s at war.

    Now THAT’S a background story…!

    • Up, of course! Everything about is is above average – the noise level, amount of laundry, height of the weeds in the yard, number of sticky spots currently waiting to be mopped up…

  2. As I was laughing and then pointing out to my husband that we are somehow sort of related he then got all caught up in the math equation and is now trying to figure it out. And where you got it. He’s a high school math teacher… 😉

  3. as someone named “alisa,” i really have no reason to judge…but i am not going to tell joe about the name “math.” math hyland just sounds like a school yard fight waiting to happen.

      • I agree! I think Alisa is a beautiful name, quite common over here as well (but you probably already knew that, right? 😉 ). One of my favourite students is actually named Alisa, she’s precious 🙂 (at least for a teenager she is, don’t know whether she could compete with the preciousness of some toddlers, but that’s a whole different story!)

  4. I left out something important. My hubby was named after his grandfather. You probably got that, but I wasn’t sure if it was clear.

  5. I followed the link to read about the matchy-matchy names, which somehow I missed the first time around. Did I tell you my son’s name is Gabriel? The funny thing is, almost every time we are in a situation like a doctor’s office, and in spite of the fact that they know he’s a he, they ALWAYS call him “Gabrielle” pronounced the girl-way.
    Another interesting (to us, anyway) thing about naming him……We had NO IDEA what we were going to name him. My husband has an awful name, because he was raised Jewish and his grandfather with an awful name died right before he was born, so it wasn’t going to be Jr. We were watching a movie while I was still pregnant (Dinner With Friends) and the Dennis Quaid character’s name was Gabe. And I liked it. A lot. And my husband liked it. So Gabe it was, and is. (And he is my little angel!) But, everyone on my MIL’s side of the family believes we named him after MIL’s deceased brother, whose name (unbeknownst to me at the time) was………Gabe. So Uncle Gabe’s widow dotes on my son.
    BTW, my husband is now a Jewish Christian. Isn’t that awesome?!

  6. I think my child-naming rights will be taken away as well. My first child is Hunter Caddis, because my husband likes to hunt and his favorite “fly” to fly fish with is the Caddis Fly. I’m sure my son will have deep disdain for us somewhere around 5th grade, we did after all name him after fly larva. My daughter is named Madison, after my husband favorite fly-fishing river. I may lose child-naming rights but scored high in cool-wife points! My parents however asked if we were going to choose “Biblical” names for our kids…they stopped asking by the time the twins arrived.

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