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# Ask Your Kids if Numbers Have Personalities

By Kacy Faulconer |

Image by Woodlouse

I’m going to tell you this even though it’s really weird.

The other day my son and I were talking. I told him that I thought the number one was like a stern dad, number two is married to one and she is the mom of three (who is kind of selfish), four (who is very nice), and five (who is really talented but demanding and sometimes emotionally abuses four).

I’ve got the whole story worked out to about number twelve. Incidentally, I was never very good at math.

It may be weird that I anthropomorphize numerals. But my son does it too. He was all,  “No way. One is a baby!” We both think seven is a bit of a cad.

My husband was totally blown away and had no idea what we were talking about. Some people do it and some don’t. It’s called ordinal linguistic personification. No one really knows what it means, cognitively, except that it stems from “cross-talk” between spheres in the brain. Here’s another person’s description of the numbers. It’s not just me!

My daughter thinks of herself as eight. I relate most to two. My older son and I agree that eight is sometimes mistreated by nine but eight loves nine fiercely anyway. My daughter and I both think of most even numbers as female and my sons think of them as male. There is no correlation between mathematics aptitude and personifying numbers, at least not in my family.

I don’t know what it means. I don’t know why I told you.  But it’s actually very  interesting to talk about. My kids can go on and on explaining the relationships between the numbers and the characteristics of each one. They don’t have to think about it–it’s just like describing a person they know. I feel the same way. It was really shocking to find out that Ben thinks of one as three and four’s baby when I think if one as the patriarch of all the numbers. I mean, it doesn’t matter but it’s a glimpse into my kids’ interior life.

Do you and your kids think of numbers with personalities? You really have to get back to me on this one.

More of my Babbles.

Read more from Kacy at Every Day I Write the Book.
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### Kacy Faulconer

I'm Kacy Faulconer. I'm your friend. Read more from me at Every Day I Write the Book. Read bio and latest posts →

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## 35 thoughts on “Ask Your Kids if Numbers Have Personalities”

1. Rob says:

I have always thought five to be an arrogant jerk. Thinks he so great because he’s right in the middle. Also, this isn’t really anthropomorphizing by I’ve always felt that seven is an odd, not even, number.

2. Caitlin bahr says:

I always thought even numbers were stuck up and odd numbers were more humble and cool. But when I told my mom she disagreed, and said she had always thought odd numbers were somewhat malicious. I also view time as both three dimensional and circular/cyclical. My cousin doesn’t like Dr. Pepper because it tastes cylindrical, which is just one part of her synesthesia. People, right?

1. Kacy Faulconer says:

Interesting.

3. Lisa says:

I totally do this in my head, and never thought anyone else did! I’m going to talk to my kids about this and get back to you!

4. Jane Luke says:

I remember when I was around 8 I revealed to my older sister that I thought this way about the alphabet. A is a girl, B is also a girl but she is a bully. C is a boy who is shy, etc..She thought I was nuts and I haven’t discussed it since. Thanks for bringing this important topic out into the open. Nice to know I am not alone, plus now I have something fun to talk about with my kids in the car.

1. Kacy Faulconer says:

You are not alone.

5. Jill says:

Heck yeah! Not only do numbers have personalities, but in my head they also have colors. 2 and 8 are always yellow, 7 is green, 5 is blue, 12 is red…don’t get me started. As for personalities, 10 is the dad and 20 is the mom. 5 is a jock, 8 is a bratty know-it-all, and 13 is a female junior high gym teacher. For the most part, evens are girls and odds are boys, with a few key exceptions.

Now I’m dying to know if my kids have any ideas on this. Can’t wait for dinner!

1. Kacy Faulconer says:

I wonder if your kids will have as vivid personalities for the numbers as you have.

6. Jamie says:

Just read this with my 11 yo daughter. When I read seven is a cad she asked what a cad is and Then said, “yeah, seven is a jerk.” but I think she gets that from they might be giants’ seven ate nine. She just said ” nine likes to go shopping.” I don’t have intricate personalities, just one word traits like one is smug, two is nice and busy, three and five are chubby and sweet, four is a kind and helpful lady. 11 is an adolescent 1, 12 is a domineering but kind of cool lady. WEIRD!!!

1. Kacy Faulconer says:

It is SO weird. Does anyone like 7?

7. Elizabeth says:

I love this! Have you ever read “A Girl Named Zippy”? (http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Named-Zippy-Growing-Mooreland/dp/0767915054/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339239267&sr=8-1) I think you would really enjoy it and there’s a whole chapter about how a card game Zippy plays with her dad falls apart because of doing this.

1. Kacy Faulconer says:

I have read Zippy and I love it. Thanks for recommending it. I forgot about that part!

8. Michelle J. says:

My son associates numbers with colors, like Jill. Synesthesia is very interesting! I’ll have to ask my kids if numbers have personalities, too.

9. robin says:

once again you have written about something that is so fascinating! i love this stuff! my husband absolutely does not understand my obsession with even numbers. even numbers are WAY better than odd numbers. they’re prettier, they’re nicer. they just look better. 7 is a mean, number, and i’ve never liked 15. i am going to ask my oldest daughter about this and see what she says…

1. Kacy Faulconer says:

I relate much more to even numbers. I guess because I think they are female? Except 6 and 10. It’s so weird.

10. Amelia says:

7 is a jerk! Just does not want to get along with the other numbers. I have done this since I was little!

11. Emily says:

My brother and I figured out recently that we both associate colors with the days of the week. Monday is Red, Tuesday- blue, Wednesday- orange (obviously), Thursday- yellow, etc… Numbers I haven’t thought much about, but am dying to talk to my kids about it now!

12. Jen Powell says:

How about 0? I think it’s picked on but doesn’t take it hard. Like how it wasn’t even recognized for so long, but didn’t seem to mind. It’s like Ferdinand.

13. Danielle Blake says:

I also have had this since I was a kid. I only personified 1-9 though. I thought 4 and 5 were married. 1, 2, and 3 were their young kids. and 6, 7, and 8 were their older boys. I don’t remember what I thought about 9 anymore. I remember 3 felt left out by his older brothers.

14. Ellen E says:

I. LOVE. THIS.
And yes, someone likes number 7: me! It’s my fav

1. Kacy Faulconer says:

A 7 fan!

15. Jamie says:

That’s so funny. I do the same thing with numbers, letters, and even flatware growing up. Must have helped me set the table growing up. M & N are my favorites. Somehow they turned out as two sassy old maids.

1. Kacy Faulconer says:

I love the image of M&N as old sassy maids.

16. Sarah says:

In “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” Francie has a whole story worked out for the numbers 0-10. In her world 0 is a tiny little baby.
7 is just a jerk.

17. Lisa says:

So funny! I do the same with numbers and letters…. can we all agree that the prime numbers are all a bit rebellious and of course very independent and extremely intelligent? I mean 983 is definitely a genius!

18. Michelle Glauser says:

I’ve always done that as well. For me, odd numbers are all kind of cocky, lame GUYS.

19. Monica says:

This reminds me of one my favourite little-kid jokes:

“Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 ate 9!”

20. christy says:

I love ODD numbers, even numbers to me are boring. I was so bummed when my first son was born on 4-6-10. My only solace was at least 4+6=10. I also prefer Monday, Wednesday and Friday because in my head they are odd.

21. Jennifer says:

Holy cow! I have always done this! I remember Math taking me so long in elementary school because of the way I felt about each number!

22. Bec says:

7 is so yellow! I don’t find him irritating though, maybe just awkwardly inward, and a little taller than other kids his age(he’s a lanky 9).
Also agree, Monday, Wednesday and Friday are odd numbers.

23. Bec says:

It is 9 you have to watch out for, he’s so sly!

24. Marsha says:

I find this fascinating because from the time I was a young child I thought of the numbers 1-10 as male or female: 1 is a girl, 2 is a boy, 3 is a girl, 4 is a girl, 5 , 6 and 7 are boys, 8 is a girl and 9 is a boy. As you can see, there is no pattern to this. I don’t where this came from but many years later I can still identify them this way. It’s cool that other people personify numbers in some way.

25. Jenn says:

This has many qualities of Synesthesia, too – letters and numbers having shapes, colors and numbers. Numbers have shapes and personalities in my head, for instance prime numbers are an inverted pyramidal/conical-type shape, one solid hunk, but balanced on it’s tip; unstable but solid at the same time. I also see the calendar in a hoop around my waist, but that’s another discussion…: )

26. DeeAnna says:

I thought I was the only one! Four and Five run together holding hands and Eight is kind of disgusting for some reason. I have 2 eights in my phone number and it kind of grosses me out. 2 is blue (the color not sad) for sure. One of them has grass growing on it, but I have forgotten which one. Crazy I know!!

27. kara says:

I’m so glad I looked into this! I’ve also always had personalities associated with my numbers and was also never that great at math. I always assumed my numbers had personalities to make math homework more interesting.

Years later now that i’m grown up, I discovered that my twin sister and I both have the same exact personalities assigned to our numbers. Our mom also sees her numbers with personalities, although some of them vary

1 – kind of gender neutral, is an baby, maybe a year old
2 – younger brother, very sweet, toddler, closet with number 3
3 – is a girl, might possibly be twins with 2, but i’m leaning towards just slightly older (maybe 18 months older). I genuinely like 3, but she can be a little annoying every now and then

4 – still a child, but older than both 2 and 3, she looks after 2 particularly. I’d say she’s about 7 years old. She can be a little up tight, but its just because she feels responsible for her younger siblings (1,2,3)

5 – A boy, good-natured, a little wild, he’s about 8-10 years old. Close with 4, although he can be a little too wild for her. Idolizes his older brother, 6

6 – I don’t love 6. I think he has a good heart, but I think he’s struggling to find his way. Torn between being big and bad and still being a little kid. He’s about 12 years old. 9 is a bad influence on him

7 – I love seven. 4 really looks up to 7. 7 is kind to all her younger siblings and has a soft spot for 6. She is very protective of them. She brings out the best in 8, her older brother. She is 14 year old

8 – Reminds of a jock with a heart of gold. Sometimes he can get caught up in being ‘cool’, but 7 helps keep him grounded. He is also a teenager

9 – I do not like 9. He is mean and sneaky and I feel like he is trying to corrupt 6. 9 does have a soft spot for his little sister, 3 though. I think he is 17ish years old

10 – also fairly gender neutral, although I lean towards female. She is much older, off at college. Don’t know too much about her