On being left handed

Friday, May 12 2006 @ 05:19 PM PDT

Contributed by: Admin

Right brain

Shannon is left handed. She's had an easier time adjusting to a right handed world than most kids because she happens to have two left handed parents. We already had a collection of those funny scissors, odd can-openers, upside-down oven mitts and neutral-handed corkscrews before she was born.

I've been told that left-handedness is very recessive, and having two left-handed parents didn't make Shannon significantly more likely to be left-handed, nor could a child become left-handed by watching us. It was pretty much the luck of the draw, plus having two parents who could recognize left-handed symptoms early on and have the sense not to force her to switch. (A lot of people who think they were born right-handed probably weren't.)

My wife and I differ on our approach to being wrong-handed. Although we both grew up in a school system that firmly (and sometimes violently) discouraged left-handedness, she stubbornly refused to switch. On the other hand (so to speak), I switched to my right side for some things but not for others. So, for instance, I do most sports and tools with my right hand but still eat and write with my left. I wrote with my right hand for awhile, but switched back the moment they stopped whacking my left with a ruler. As a result (I opine), my handwriting is atrocious, even for a southpaw.

I stuttered pretty bad in grade school, and my speech still gets locked up sometimes if I'm not concentrating. I've read that this is the possible result of efforts to switch me to "correct" hand dominance in grade school.

My maternal grandfather was a southpaw who was switched as a child. As a result, he did some things with his left and other things with his right, as do I, but differed in detail. He ate and wrote with his right, for instance, but his left hand was stronger and clearly meant to be dominant. In school, he did well in football (as a lineman) but couldn't master baseball, as the only way he could connect from a right hand stance was with a cross-handed grip, and the only hit he could make from that position was a pop fly.

When it comes right down to it, other than society's reaction to left-handedness, what's the real difference, anyway?

For more information, please see our collection of lefthanded links.

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