Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Left-Handed Child


I’m ashamed to admit that I tried to turn my left-handed child into a right-handed one.  From a very young age, he had always used his left hand to draw, to eat, to throw a ball.  My son was 18-months-old when I gave him a crayon in his right hand on purpose, trying to change his hand preference.  “I take it here!, he told me speaking his baby words clearly.  He then promptly switched the crayon from his right hand into his left and scribbled a beautiful picture.  He was trying to tell me that he is left-handed, and we’ve never looked back since then.

Why is there still a left-handed stigma in our society?  After all, celebrities like Barack Obama, Albert Einstein, and famous couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are all left-handed!  Even 5 of the last 7 American presidents were lefties, although left-handedness only occurs in 5-10% of the population!  Why did I feel a need to change my son?  I think it was for fear that he would be treated differently due to his left-handedness (silly reason, right)?

Upon discovering that my son was a little lefty, I had to find out “how this had happened”?  After all, my other 4 children are righties.  Was my son a lefty due to my “advanced maternal age” at the time of his birth?  Was it because he was born 5 weeks premature?  Or was it just “because” he was born this way?  Once I stopped trying to figure out why he was a lefty, could I then embrace my son for the unique individual that he is.  (And when I say “unique”, I say this in a good way.)

I asked myself how my son is different from my other children?  And with the exception of his left-handedness, there is no difference!  He is just as handsome, funny, smart, active, inquisitive and creative as my other kids.  Then I tried to think of any lefties that I know in real life, and 3 came to mind right away: my brother, my sister-in-law and father (who was forced to become a righty at an early age).  All three intelligent, talented, upstanding human beings. 
 
Of course there are special considerations with lefties, such as buying left-handed or ambidextrous scissors (right-handed scissors don’t work with lefties), seating lefties on your left-hand side at the dinner table (so you don’t bump elbows while eating) and placing a computer mouse on the left-hand side (or using a mouseless keyboard).  And by gaining a little lefty, we have also gained a new holiday: Left-Handed Day on August 13th!  I’m sure I must have left out something else!

This article was written by me, Jenna Em, and appears on the Wednesday September 26th, 2012 issue of the Kuklamoo Blog.

9 comments:

  1. I posted about Left Handed Day just this year. I'm not sure when it started but I hadn't heard of it before.

    I think it's great that you offered your son a pencil in the other hand and don't see it as you trying to influence him (only you would know, smile). Everything is new to him so introducing him to the concept of writing with another hand sounds like teaching. Glad he set you straight (smile).

    My 3-year old son is also left handed. Do you really think there is a stigma? I'm left handed and grew up on the 70's. I don't remember anyone trying to change me.

    Thank you so much for linking up to the "I Am Canadian" Linky for September. Did you email me about being featured and I misplaced it? If so, please send me another note, I'd love to have you!

    P.S. I can't use left-handed scissors. While it's better for my hand (it hurts with right handed scissors), the cut mark doesn't line up with where my dominate eye does (hard to explain) It just doesn't work.

    Besos, Sarah
    Zookeeper at Journeys of The Zoo
    journeysofthezoo at hotmail dot com

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    1. Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for your note! Yes, I do believe there is a stigma. I am not sure why that stigma is there, but it might be that no one wants strangers making assumptions about their child's intelligence based on handedness.

      You should buy yourself some ambi scissors. Most of the scissors in our house are ambidextrous and seem to work well for everyone.

      I will e-mail you now.

      Jenna

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  2. I'm a proud lefty! I was actually going to post my "pen-smudged" hand today on twitter going "See! The trials of being a lefty!" Quite honestly though, I haven't had too much of a problem. Can openers, sissors and the bumping elbows can all be worked through. When I was learning to tie my shoes, my parents had a rough time - but then sat in front of me "mirroring" vs beside me. There was no problem then!

    And I use the mouse on the right hand - I think a lot of us do! Means we can write notes with our left and still use a computer!

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    1. Natalie, thanks for your note! Very cool of your parents to teach you to tie shoe your shoe laces by "mirroring" you. That tip will come in handy!

      Very neat that you use the computer mouse in your right hand so you can take notes with your left!

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  3. Being left handed can have it's challenges! As a mom and a grandma, I would have probably done the same thing, not realizing that they are just left handed, but thinking in our right handed world, that the little one was just using the wrong hand! heheheheee we as adults sure can learn some lessons from the little ones!

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  4. My sister is left handed. It was always funny when we were kids doing our homework my sister would always smudge her as she was writing.

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  5. I think it's tough being a lefty! My brother is a lefty and my parents a lot of trouble teaching him to use scissors and even just teaching him to write. My father in law was born a lefty, but his mom forced him to be a righty so now he does some stuff with his left hand and others with his right which I think is pretty cool!

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  6. I also am left handed and I remember my Mom teaching me to knit and her being right-handed,oh it was a job......

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