Monday, May 23, 2011

Pick A Hand

I am ambidextrous. There is only about 5% of the world’s population who are considered ambi (no, I do not want to spell out ambidextrous a bunch of times), and most of these “ambi” people are converted lefties or right-handed people who have made a conscious effort to learn to use their non-dominant hand.* Around 10% of people in the United States are left handed by comparison.**

I am a natural ambi, I was not a lefty switched to righty or a righty who “picked up” left-handed skills. I have been this way since birth. My mother once told me that even as a baby, I would alternate hands with no preference for either. I was a rare find, an almost mythical beast. My mother was content to let me have no dominant hand, having already had a lefty and two righties.

In kindergarten, I met the first obstacle to my neither-handedness. My otherwise nice teacher did not believe ambidexterity truly existed. To her, it was like big foot or the perfect swimsuit for any woman over a size 6. She thought that I was just being obstinate when I would alternate hands midway through a writing lesson. Through gritted teeth told me, “choose a hand already.” I looked around and noticed most of the kids were using their right hands, so I chose to use my right one for writing. It was the first time I made a conscious decision to favor one hand over the other. When I got older, I taught myself to write with my left, but it will probably never be as good as my right.

Because I am an ambi, I don’t pay much attention to which hand I am using to eat unless I am sitting next to Jamila. She is a natural lefty. If I am sitting on her left, I will make a willful effort to use my left hand. It upsets her when she is placed to the right of a right handed person as she knows they will end up bumping into each other multiple times. She often had that trouble when she was in Head Start.

Having her in Head Start caused many headaches. First, they placed her in the Spanish speaking section. She speaks maybe three words (non food) of Spanish now, and she spoke less of it then. Secondly, the “teacher” (teacher is in quotation marks because that is what her title was, but I considered her as much a teacher as I consider the Flintstones to be a historically accurate cartoon) would “correct” her when she would do anything with her left hand.

Despite my daily complaints, this continued for weeks. I had enough the day I showed up early and she was crying because her “teacher” yelled at her, in Spanish, for knocking over another student’s glass when she was eating. I was not happy. I got down to Jamila’s level and I told her that she had done nothing wrong, that the adults had made a mistake by putting her in the middle instead of on the end. Then I voiced my displeasure to this “teacher” and her supervisor. After the stunned looks started to fade from their faces and the supervisor started to give me a weak apology, I let them know that my left-handed, English speaking daughter would not be returning and left without looking back. It was one of my momma bear moments. I am not a woman to be trifled with if I am in momma bear mode.

*I read this on some website that I am pretty sure was scientific or something, but I don’t remember the website name because I visit a *lot* of websites and I read a *lot* of stuff.

**I am pretty sure that I read this in “Left Handed Kids, Why are They So Different”- the 1997 edition, so it may be outdated information. I only remember the book because of how wrong it was in so many ways.


  1. My son hasn't really picked a hand yet, either. He's only 2 and a half. I don't care if he's a lefty or a righty or a bothy. My dad's left handed and we try to put him where we won't all bonk elbows when we go out to eat. Half the time it seems like my son will favor his left then switch randomly to the right.

    I get mad when I hear about 'educators' being that stupid. Out of curiosity, if you didn't specify Spanish, why did they stick her there?

  2. They said it was a clerical error. They also promised to move her once a spot opened up in the English section.