Don’t Say JMo Never Taught You Anything!

Super Bowl Sunday I was hanging out at my sister’s house with her and her husband (and of course the kids).  At one point, my 6-year-old nephew comes out of the playroom with a piece of paper on which he drew this symbol with crayon:   ÷

Liam: What is this?

Adult: That’s the division symbol.

(We have no idea where he saw it. Also I’m using “Adult” because my sister, her husband and I were all just coming up with the same responses.)

Liam: What’s it called?

Adult: {scared looks because we all realize we have no idea. Does it even have a name?} Divided by symbol.

Liam: No, what’s it called??


Liam: I didn’t ask what it does. I asked what it’s called.

Go away kid, we’re busy killing our brain cells with beer over here.

Three days later I’m back at the house. My sister asks me, “Hey, remember ‘divided by?'”  Uh yeah, how could I forget??

She gives me a look and then beckons Liam to come into the room.  “Liam, what’s the name of the divided by symbol?”


He then runs out of the room, grabs the piece of paper and a crayon and then appears again and asks me to write OBELUS at the top of the page and then draw an arrow pointing to said symbol.

The only problem: I had no idea how to spell OBELUS, since I’ve only  just heard the word for the first ever and had never seen it spelled out.

Apparently his father Googled it. Which is what I went on to do. But when you don’t know how to spell “obelus” you obviously just type in “divided by symbol” and then all you get is results for “How do I use my keyboard to type the divided by symbol?”

Probably on the second or third page of results I come across a letter that some kid wrote to a mathematician. “Hi I’m William. I am in eighth grade. I was wondering if you could tell me the name of the divided by symbol?”

So this 12-year-old kid is wondering something that my six-year-old nephew is wondering. Something I’ve never ever ever never ever thought about before. Ok then. (Nerds)

Yeah so, there. I taught you something. Now go ask everyone you know if they know what an obelus is….and then gleefully tell them “Divided by symbol, dummy!” when they shrug their shoulders.

Three days ago Liam learned chess at a parents night out event. On Sunday I gave him my old chessboard (See Checkmate blog) and pieces. He wanted to play me.  I said, “Fine, bring it.” I’m not the aunt that let’s these kids win at anything. Even Candy Land. I was always “Suck it!” Ok I never swore at them, but still. They must learn to earn their win.

So I sat back and said “ok how hard will it be to beat a 6-year-old at chess?’

In 2-3 moves Liam had my King in check. And in check again 2 more moves after that. Granted I was helping him NOT lose his queen and such, but I was so busy going on the attack that my 6-year-old nephew just floated down the board and checked my King. 

Eventually I checkmated his King and he tipped him over in defeat. Did I mention that during my turn he was busy watching Wonder Pets? Yeah, exactly. Wonder Pets and Chess. Ah, to be young again.

Proud Aunt of a Future Mathlete,


2 thoughts on “Don’t Say JMo Never Taught You Anything!

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