You Can Raise a Left-Handed Child in This Right-Handed World

Being left-handed has been a blessing and a curse. My odds of dying are higher than my husband’s, who is right-handed. Then again, if I do die it will be from a very creative use of machinery, and he can sue since the instructions did not state, “do not allow in the hands of a lefty”. Thus if you are a parent of a left-handed child, be patient and seek advice from a friend or anyone you notice who is left-handed. You can handle having the lefty challenge in your house. After all being left-handed has provided humor throughout my life, and a chance to always sit at the end of a table with left elbow askew.

Apparently as a child, my mother who is very right-handed, attempted to convert me. She always handed me a spoon to my right hand, which I promptly switched to my left when I wanted to actually get food in my mouth. She despaired at teaching me to tie my shoes, and back in those days there was no Velcro. Fortunately a neighbor declared that I was not an idiot, I just needed to loop the laces as a lefty. Upon being shown, I was able to tie my own shoes. Whew! So, for parents, the basics of life can hinge on a child’s predisposition. Try to encourage the use of the right-hand, but do not force the issue and make accommodations for using the left.

I learned to color and write with my left hand. Using scissors ended up being a challenge. My mother only had right-handed scissors in the house, so I hacked away with those. Once I was in school, the left-handed scissors felt odd in my hand and I never did learn to cut properly. Circles were not my forte. I learned to bat, play putt-putt, and hit a croquet mallet with my right hand. I swung a tennis racquet with my left, and ultimately learned a mean lefty serve. Day to day skills is often taught without thought to future ramifications. Whether cutting with scissors or learning sports, consider the process and make sure the proper tools or teachers are available for the left-handed child.

Gym class proved challenging at times since the physical education teachers were predominately right handed. With archery class, I remember being told to go way off by myself before shooting the arrow. Facing a different direction, who knew where the arrow would go? Junior high sewing class was a nightmare. Everything was rigged for the right-handed world. I ended up doing classmate’s math homework in exchange for a sewn hem. Art class proved to be a salvation. Somehow, all the lefties of the school ended up in the art rooms, and we could learn from our left-handed teachers.

As a grown-up, being left-handed is a way of life. Somehow, one maneuvers machinery without taking heed of danger. Leaning in as a lefty, you are often exposed to blades or sharp whirring action, but if you need to get the job done you laugh at the danger. On the other hand, it is amazing how often a right-hander will leap into action and take care of the job for you. Apparently, the left-handed viewpoint just plain looks wrong, and you do look perilously in danger of losing a finger.

My husband has adapted to marriage to a lefty. He sighs at the constantly curled and twisted hair dryer cord, as we turn it in different directions. He has replaced our electric can opener numerous times. This is something you do not think about, but when I push down on the lever with my left hand, I am giving it a slight torque each time. Ultimately it becomes unaligned and fails to cut a can. He knows that, if given a choice, I will always enter a movie theater and go to the left. He also will not allow me to rearrange the kitchen cupboards. When we had a kitchen upgrade, the designer was thorough and asked about left hand versus right hand, and who was the predominant cook. Alas, my husband won on that point, and the kitchen is designed with a right-hander in mind. The spice rack is on the right, as well as the knife holders. Then again, I am not allowed near the knives, so it is just as well.

Somehow, left-handed people survive in this right-handed world, and we add our little bonus quirk to art, sports, and living. With the advent of the computer, people can now read our thoughts clearly rather than translating an ink-smeared scrawl. Raising a left-handed child presents a few challenges, but the child will adapt and so will you.

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