Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & softcover book anthologies. Collections of her personal items/ photos/ memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian. The Smithsonian selected her photo to represent all teens from a specific decade.
Left, Right, Ambidextrous?
Funny what strange beliefs we have as children. I was convinced that I bounced a ball left-handed, and played cards that way, too, because my left-handed uncle taught me how to do both. I didn't even think it was strange to bounce leftie then transfer the ball to my right hand to throw it at someone, since that uncle didn't teach me to toss anything. 'Course this made lay-up shots, in basketball, difficult to do and funny to watch; every gym teacher I had thought I was just trying to be irritating or call attention to myself. No matter how many times I verbalized that I really couldn't bounce right-handed nor shoot a basket left-handed, I was viewed as a troublemaker.
I also learned to knit 'European' and was sure everyone did. I happily made whatever my mother suggested, leaving buttonholes or zippers for her to create. As a teen, glittery sweaters were chic, so I tried to follow directions for a beaded sweater and the beads came out on the inside. Ah, ha, said the knit shop expert: you knit leftie. Hm. That uncle didn't teach me knitting and my parents/grandparents were right handed. Someone, somewhere... or maybe it was a European way and we Americans knit as silly as we eat with transferring silverware like my lay-up shots.
I tried bouncing rightie; I couldn't. I tried playing cards differently but my hand got tired. I tried knitting the way directions were printed and couldn't. I accepted I was ambi-dextrous.
In a college psychology course, I learned about the brain's right and left sides. I decided both parts of my brain were perfect and I'd never have to 'suffer' if a stroke hit one section. At that age, however, strokes seemed academic, like wrinkles or jowls, and superior brain sides definitely were good for the ego. I practiced signing my name left handed.
I married a rightie and promptly defied Mendel's Law: we produced three lefties. No one would ever use my husband's broken-in baseball mitt as it was the wrong hand for our offspring. At least I could teach knitting and ball bouncing
. I began to realize that my uncle had less to do with my being capable that way as a leftie than my genetic predisposition. The concept of dominant and recessive genes, however, was being challenged as right's dominant, right? So where'd the three lefties come from; my persistent asking was about as irritating to listeners as my gym instructors' observations of my lay-up technique during basketball gym periods.
Who were the family lefties, I demanded! As if a scarlet letter was stamped on a concealed-by-clothing part of their bodies, no one except that uncle admitted to such an awful condition. Teachers forbid students to use left hands, my mother said, and, in her day, they were permitted to strike a pupil's fingers with a wooden ruler. She believed that every adult who stuttered was a victim of the ruler treatment. I listened to every family member articulate; no stutterers.
My kids bowling was costly; they needed to own equipment since most finger holes drilled-in on rental balls were on the wrong side, and slides on shoes had the same problem.
My daughter claimed she couldn't iron 'cause the thumb indent was in the wrong place; and I always got stuck with cutting out her paper dolls since scissors had blades made for righties. I taught shoe-tying via big loops when I couldn't find velcro closings.
They wanted to learn to play golf. Since it is a dominant left-sided game, I suggested they learn to play rightie and they'd already be ahead of their opponents. They fell for my logic not realizing that I didn't want to invest in opposite-from-usual game gear. Tennis came next. At least a racquet was a racquet but a stranger thing surfaced: my oldest played rightie.
Here were these three eating leftie, writing leftie, and suddenly this older son was hitting forehands and backhands with a wooden racquet in his right palm. Oh, no. He's ambidextrous.
I thought about having him do the ironing but knew he'd insist the thumb indent was wrong as only tennis is his rightie thing.
Well, my three lefties went through school with impressions etched into their arms from spiral notebooks being unavailable for lefties, sitting sideways in lecture seats designed with a right writing surface, elbow bumping at dorm dining tables, putting ignition keys into right slots when driving a car, and even dealing with car’s controls in the center console to the right of the driver. Now married, they've produced only righties.
©1995 Lefthanders International
reprinted August 2015 Clear Mt.
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