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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Celebrating A Left World ~ A Left Handed View

The Washington Posts Staff Writer Bill O'Brian writes about lefty-isms. Yes, being left handed has carried some stigma, especially back in my school days.

Here my family excepted me the way I was, but a few teachers tried desperately to make me into a righty. Children's scissors didn't come in lefty style, so I had to cut with my right hand. My cafeteria food trays looked out of order to me - for me. So I re-arranged my utensils, milk, napkin and everything for my "left" way to eat.

School desks were built for right handed kids, so I had to reach over from my left to the right to write. That was until the late seventies when I suspect more left handed people or sympathetic righties made their mark by producing more left handed desks. Teachers of a certain mind set would toss those desks to the back of the room. Thank goodness I was tall for my age.

Several teachers publicly announced with frustration, to the class, that anyone who tried - could learn to write with their right hand. That it was only lazy children who could not learn. Then that teacher would proceed to attempt the task by forcing the child to do so, in front of the class. So, I developed a technique, at a young age, to print and write as though I wasn't a southpaw. I managed over time to correct the reverse ways of the right world to suit my needs.

When a teacher would exclaim how nice my paper was written, they weren't necessarily referring to anything other than the fact that I didn't write like a left handed person. Some would actually say so out loud to the class. I decided to turn all comments about my hand writing into a compliment (backhanded as it was) through my years of being a lefty. At least eventually, the teachers stopped trying to force me to become a rightie.

Same went for work situations, where people would gush in awe "You don't write like a southpaw!" My proudest left handed day was when my nephew (the only other left handed family member) was ready for school. I gave him a child's book that celebrated being left handed. The book was filled with information about other left handed people that achieved great things in history and in life. The sports figures were his favorite people.

For him, it was probably the one book that seemed to be his favorite for the longest time. I don't believe I had ever witnessed him quizzing anyone prior to that book. Not only was the book for him, but he shared all the left handed facts with his brothers, sister, cousins and friends. His enthusiasm told me that I had introduced this very important subject at just the right time.
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