Something Sinister

Like approximately 85% of the world, I’m right handed.  My maternal grandmother, mother, and two of my sisters are left-handed, so I’ve heard how difficult things can be for those who favor their left hand, but I honestly never gave it much thought.  However, now that my almost three-year old son has turned out to be a definite lefty, I find that I’m much more attuned to the little issues that pop up daily in the life of a left hander.

A meeting of left-handed Presidents.  [Image in the public domain; click photograph for further info]

Three of the last four presidents have been southpaws! [Image in the public domain; click photograph for further info.]

For instance, there is nothing my son loves more than helping to clean up (and I hope this never changes!).  His first “chore,” and one that he loves, is using the dustpan and brush to sweep up the floor.  This simple task caused us no end of frustration when I would try to hold the dustpan for him so he could sweep things in.  Eventually, the light bulb clicked on in my head and I realized that I was holding the pan in the same position I’d use when sweeping with my right hand.  For him, this was backwards and difficult!  Once I showed him how to hold the dustpan in his right hand so he could use his left hand to sweep into it, he got it down in no time. While things are a bit different now than they were for his great-grandmother, who used to get punished for writing with her left hand, we are undoubtedly living in a right-hander’s world.  Things as simple as clicking a computer mouse, using a sewing machine, playing guitar, or using a can opener are all a bit trickier when you’re trying to do them in reverse.  Some studies have shown a tendency toward developmental delays in left-handed children, which doesn’t surprise me a great deal.  Imagine learning something brand new, only to encounter the challenge of having to do it backwards and upside down! I hear that spiral notebooks are a pain, too.

Of course, for all the challenges that lefties face, most right-brained folks will also tell you that there are definite advantages.  Artists and musicians are more likely to be left handed than the rest of us, which leads to some theorizing that left-handers are more naturally creative.  There’s also a possibility that southpaws are more mathematically gifted than the general population.  And I for one am pinning my hopes on my son’s career as a left-handed pitcher for the Pirates (leading them to greatness, winning the World Series, etc.). Keep your eye on the 2030 draft picks.

-Irene

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Something Sinister

  1. Eleanor "Serene" Mendicino

    My mother was left-handed and a beautiful knitter. She taught me to knit. We did it not by sitting side by side as most would do, but by my sitting facing her so that what she would do with her left hand I could try and visualize doing with my right.

  2. Love it – my children are all “righties”, as am I. However…every man that I have ever been attracted to, included my ex-husband, have been “lefties”, even before I knew that they were! Go figure :)

  3. lizzy

    we just arranged one of our desks to accommodate left-handed staff. there is a setting for the mouse that can be adjusted (re the buttons). Us right-handers didn’t think about the toll it might take on someone doing repetitive tasks but she definitely felt an improvement by this simple change!

  4. Katrin

    Irene,

    You appear to be a very thoughtful and observant mother! Around the age of three, parents often notice things about their children that make them special. When my son was three, my husband and I could no longer ignore the fact that he was not speaking. I was never much of a talker myself (although I love sentences); so it didn’t really bother me. However, we decided to consult some early childhood experts, and they diagnosed him with Autism. They don’t have any brain or blood tests to determine when a child has a developmental disability — mostly checklists and observations. As a Special Educator myself, I see the benefits and dilemmas a “label” can have on a child. However, we were able to get my son into an early intervention preschool, and it made a world of a difference! (He talks all time now and he has the sweetest heart!) The best advice I received at the time was to be an advocate for my child! I’m happy to say that he’s twelve, and he is doing well. That’s why they call it the Autism “Spectrum.” So I think it’s great that you are observing how your child experiences the world as a “lefty!” It’s interesting that you titled your blog post “Sinister.” People do tend to judge others, who are different. As humans we often fall into this trap. Share a story, open a mind! And what a coincidence! I was just writing a poem about my son the other night. As he is growing older, it’s fun to look back and write about my experiences and feelings as a mother. In fact, at your very own library, I once attended a poetry reading. The poet was Rebecca Foust. Her son has Asperger’s Syndrome. She wrote a book of poems called DARK CARD. She was so inspiring to me that I started using poetry in the classroom with my own students, who had disabilities! Thanks for sharing and good luck with your son!

  5. Lefty checking in!
    I could respond with a comment as long as – or longer than – the post itself. Golfing, woodworking, art, writing, etc. are all things I love that were dynamically affected by being left-handed. I’ll just say – only left-handed people are in their “right” mind! Ha ha ha
    Thanks for the shout-out for southpaws : – )

  6. What a great read :) I’ve recently been giving tours at work, which focus on portraiture. It is fascinating to realise that women were often placed on the man’s left (or ‘sinister’) side, particulatly in 17th century Dutch portraiture, to represent their ‘lower’ status. http://www.wga.hu/html_m/v/verspron/port_w_m.html As you mentioned, being left-handed was once regarded as a negative thing in certain cultures. Do you think that your great grandmother remained a ‘lefthander’ in her thinking?

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