Sunday, March 29, 2015

SOLSC March 29 - What's in a Name?

Join me as I participate in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Other "Slicers" can be found among my students in the comments of my class blog. There are also several hundred teachers participating at

One night, three years before Clara was born, I had a dream. I heard footsteps come down the hallway, our door opened slowly and a child's voice gently called out, "Dad?"  I woke up immediately, full of emotion and hope, because my wife and I had been trying, for several unsuccessful years, to conceive. Eventually, with the help of medical technology, were blessed with Clara and there was finally someone to call me, "Dad," in the world.

Throughout my life, I've been called a lot of names; not just nasty ones but many variations of my own name, which is Max. Actually, my whole name is M-A-X. Not "So it's just Max," but it IS Max. Max is by far the most common moniker for me but I've also be called: Maxmillian, Maxwell, Shmaxwell, Max Headroom (I did grow up in the 80s), Mad Max, and even Beyond Thunderdome. Only a few people are allowed to call me 'Maxie' and they include my parents, my wife, and oddly, the catcher on my college baseball team. Everyone else who tries to call me 'Maxie' gets politely shut down.

As a teacher, I also get called a few names by my students, again, not just the nasty ones. For the first nine years of my professional life, I was called 'Mr. Maclay.' That was a little odd at first and while I would have preferred Max or even Mr. Max, that was not an option. Now I'm called Max by my students because our school is on a first name basis. But fun and slightly awkward moments arise when I get called Dad or even Mom by my students. And that brings us to an interesting point.

My daughter calls me Max. 

She knows I'm her dad, and did call me Dada early on. But when she was three, she found out that Mom and Dad had other names that were Susan and Max. She still calls Susan 'Mom' most of the time although she will pull out 'Susan' when she really wants her attention. 

But me, she calls Max over 90% of the time. 

She is the only person in the world who gets to call me Dad and I'm Max to her. It was somewhat cute at first, but at this point I wish I was Dad in name and not just in action. It doesn't really matter in the long run. I am her dad and she knows it. Our relationship is not any less special because of it; you might argue it's even more unique, but it does gnaw at me a little. Ironically, she mistakenly calls me, "Hey Mom! Ooops. Sorry...Max," more often than she calls me 'Dad." 

I guess that's just the way it is. She gets to be her own independent person and as long as she doesn't start calling me those other, nasty names, I guess I can live with it.


  1. Yup, I had read your slice of life called, "Remembering Pain hurts" and you finally wrote this slice. Every teacher gets called 'Mom' or 'Dad' once or twice. I like how you wrote this slice. Nice job! :)

  2. Kids do have a mind of their own. Max is just a great word to say. Quick and crisp I can see why she might like to say it. My students just to call me Grandma or Gandpa ( I don't have grey hair) so I would take the Max and just smile. Nice post.

  3. Oh Clara! I loved listening to her voice recordings on the overnight: "Hi max!" Nice descriptions of what she is like. :)

  4. Nathan did that too when he was young, & we realized that that was all he heard us (& everyone else) call each other. We let it go too, & eventually he changed back to Mom & Dad. Funny kids!

  5. Clara is so cute! I can see how it would be kind of weird to have the one person who could call you dad, call you the same thing as everyone else does, Max.