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Values & Education

Being A Lefty In A Right-Handed World

My elder one is a born lefty, i.e. he uses his left hand for everything from writing to eating. Recently, we attended a function at a relative’s house and seeing him eat with his left hand, a cousin commented, “You should have at least taught him to eat with his right hand.”

Being A Lefty In A Right-Handed World

It took me some time to explain to her that the left hand for him, serves all purposes that our right hand serves to us, and vice versa. He cannot eat with his right hand because he uses it for functions we do with our left hand. But I could see she wasn’t convinced, because she still commented, “It is parents who help make or break a habit for a child, you simply didn’t try”. I didn’t offer to explain any more, but I could see that it disturbed my elder one a wee little bit.

The world is custom made for the right handed. Even though roughly 1 out of 11 people in the world are left-handed, with a prominent left hand, they are still a minority and even considered a taboo by some!

As we drove back home, my son complained how he felt upset by the comments of that aunty and he wanted to know why the discrimination for lefty exist. We did have a pep talk after which he seemed pretty convinced but it set me thinking how biased society is towards left-handed people. Even I had not realized how everyday tasks are a challenge for him.

Every time he extends his hands for taking “Prasad” or “Aarti”, he will always be told by someone with a look of disapproval on their faces, “Beta, right hand se lo”(son, use your right hand)! And then the same pair of eyes will look at me, like I have given no “sanskar” to my child! Are they sure God is right-handed?

Every year as he begins school, I have to visit the school to tell his new teacher not to seat anyone to his left because both the kids will have to struggle for hand space when they write. I realized this, when he had just learnt to write at school, and after a few classes he refused to write at all. It took a lot of prodding to get him to tell us that the girl who sat to his left kept jostling for hand space all the time! So meeting the teacher to inform about seating arrangements became a yearly chore!  Some people have even remarked that “Saraswati ulte haath se nahi aati!”(the goddess of knowledge does not favour you if you are left handed) OMG! Really? Have a look at his accomplishments here..!

His school has straight desks, but he once went to another school for a competitive exam, and came out all frustrated. We assumed it had to do with the exam, but later learnt that the school had chairs with ‘L’ shaped wooden boards attached to them and on the right side, making it very difficult for him to write on it!

By the way, this is true at dinner tables too! There is always an elbow war at the table! To top it someone will invariably ask with wide eyed wonder, “Ulte haath se khaata hai?” (does he eat with his wrong hand?) Wrong hand? Who decided what is right and what is wrong?

Everyday tools are a pain for him. Something as simple as using scissors for craft is not possible because they have all been made for the right-handed. When he grows up, he will also see how knives, peelers, belts and a host of other things are not suited to his needs. Thankfully there are now stores that have tools for the left-handed and he is spared the embarrassment of having to ask his teacher to cut paper for him each time.

Look at door knobs, fridge doors, locks, musical instruments like guitars, belts, spiral notebooks, from the simple to the complicated… from tying shoelaces to shaking hands, to giving high fives, everything is designed for the right-handed! Life is indeed a challenge for the left-handed!

But research says that the lefty are more creative, imaginative, and intuitive, can perceive 3D forms better, have a better grasp of music, and are inclined for a holistic thought to life. They have better linguistic skills and a higher IQ. The reason is the right part of our brain controls the left part of our body and these are the functions of the right brain! Not to take anything away from the right-handed, the right-handed ones too have their own set of skills.

We realized our son was a lefty when he was merely 6 months old. We took him to his pediatrician and asked him how to make the child use his right-hand. The doctor gave us an amused look and told us, that it was the orientation of the child to use his left-hand and we should not attempt to interfere with it ever. I wonder why people think it is a mental disease to be left-handed!

If your child is left-handed, here are some tips to make life comfortable for him or her.

Buy proper equipment/ school supplies/ stationery/sports gear for the child, which are designed especially for the lefty. They are no doubt a little more expensive than the normal ones, but nothing compared to the cost of raising a confused child. If you don’t find a store in your city, there are plenty of them available online.

Talk to the teacher so that she knows the problem of the child and keeps him comfortable at school, during sports and cultural events.

Let the child know the advantages of being a lefty but don’t make it so hunky dory that he starts ridiculing everyone else who is right-handed! Let him know that there will always be questions raised on his hand usage and he must take such questions at face value and never take them to heart. You could teach him how to politely answer such questions without being rude.

My name is Shubhangi Srikanth and I write under the pen name Titli. I started my blog “the little princess” and it helped me channel my thoughts in the proper direction.
After having worked for more than 12 years in the Pharmaceutical and Banking sector, I now freelance as a content writer for medical and health websites. I have two adorable boys, who have taught me more about life than I could teach them. Being a mother is one of the most fulfilling roles of my life, one that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world!