If we hadn’t moved from the blistering hot sun to the shade at Wrigley Field last Saturday, my husband, daughter and I would’ve been just about an arm’s length away from Baez’s home run ball. Like the nearly 42,000 other fans, we arrived at the Friendly Confines hoping for that one-in-a-million chance to catch a souvenir.
In hindsight, it was fortunate that we moved out of the area where Baez’s ball landed. My daughter would have needed to make a bare-handed catch because I only took a right-handed mitt. She’s left-handed.
It’s too bad that she outgrew her “I may be Left Handed but I’m always RIGHT” T-shirt. If she had worn it on Saturday, it would’ve been a nice reminder to take her mitt.
When our daughter showed preference for her left hand as a toddler, we hadn’t considered the challenges she would face. Some of the everyday tasks that we take for granted as right-handers, such as cutting with scissors, opening a can, writing in a spiral bound tablet or catching a baseball, are meant for the 90 percent of the population that has a dominant right hand.
Our daughter has learned to assert her needs and preferences, such as not having a right-handed diner on her left side when sitting in a booth in a restaurant. But, while she was young, she hadn’t yet gained that confidence. Suddenly, one day I was left baffled when she cried and cried about not wanting to go to preschool. I spent some extra time with her in the morning at school to try to figure out what was prompting the crocodile tears.
It wasn’t long until the children started a craft project, and the tears started rolling. In the midst of her sobs came the words in her sweet little voice, “I can’t cut.” Now, she had been successfully cutting with scissors from the moment she was born (well, not quite, but you know what I mean). Cutting wasn’t the issue; rather, cutting with right-handed scissors was the issue. As it turned out, the preschool didn’t have left-handed scissors.
The left-handed scissors that she picked out especially for daycare made all of the difference in the world. I wrote her name in big letters so that she could easily locate them in the box of art supplies.
I’m well aware of the countless myths about the characteristics of left-handed people which are derived from the fact that they use the right or creative side of their brain. The one presumption I have is that being left-handed helped our daughter hone the skill of having a remarkable memory. This phenomena stems from learning how to write. She would watch how I formed letters, memorize the pencil’s strokes and then do the exact opposite. For instance, I moved the pencil from the left to the right to make a letter “O.” She moved the pencil from right to left. I’m still fascinated by watching her write and draw.
My daughter is incredibly creative, perhaps because she had to use creativity to navigate her way through using right-handed utensils and sitting at a right-handed desk. Unbelievably, there was a time when parents and educators tried to force lefties to be righties. Our society hasn’t always treated lefties as an equal. After all, a “left handed compliment” is actually an insult.
But, my daughter and the other 700 million people in our world who are left-handed (msn.com, 1/2018) are in the company of some of the greatest. Babe Ruth was left-handed. So is Anthony Rizzo. Five of the last seven presidents have been southpaws, as are technology giants Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg (cbsnews.com). Sir Paul McCartney is left-handed, as is the royalty that bestowed him with knighthood, Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen’s mother, along with Prince Charles and Prince William, are also left-handed (factretriever.com).
As you start shopping for Back-to-School supplies, consider the unique needs of your little left-hander. Scissors, notebooks and folders are a few items that can make things so much easier for your child. If you have trouble finding left-handed school supplies in person, online shopping offers endless resources. Lefties have to make so many concessions to adapt to a right-handed world that these little conveniences would be much appreciated by them.
When you someday buy your child the 5-speed Ferrari, then it’s reasonable to expect her to adapt to using her right hand because she’ll have to shift gears using a gear shift that’s on her right side. And, don’t forget – Aug. 13 is Left Handers Day.
Pamela Henderson is the director of development and communications at Dunebrook. To learn more about parenting and support programs at Dune-brook, call 800-897-0007. Email Pam with parenting questions and comments at email@example.com.