>Left or Right

>I was born left-handed. You wouldn’t know it to look at me now, but I was. Like most kids, for the the first few years of my life, I would pick up crayons, markers, toys and such with either hand. I learned to read early, starting in Kindergarten, but we did more drawing and coloring than writing at that point.

For first grade, my parents enrolled me at Miss Trudy’s Kiddie College. Really. That’s what it was called. Anyway, Miss Trudie’s school was in a room behind her house, which was a couple of blocks from my house.
The good news was that since hers a private school, she would take kids under the state-mandated minimum starting age. The bad news was that Miss Trudie was “Old School.” I knew that, even as a not-quite-six-year-old. Probably because she reminded me of my own Oma, who was a teacher in a one-room school for decades.
While we were learning to write our letters and numbers, she made sure that there were no lefties in the class. At some point, educators realized that it was important for children to discover for themselves their dominant hand, and the vast majority will gravitate toward the right. But there is a constant percentage of people who are left-dominant.
How do I know this happened? Well, I don’t remember every day at Miss Trudie’s, so I couldn’t point to specific moments. I do remember watching astronauts in space on her TV (this was 1972) and having Tang for snacks. I remember losing a tooth and being afraid to raise my hand to say something. And I remember that she ran a very tight classroom.
Even though I never really tried to learn how, when I’m tired or distracted and pick up a marker to write on a whiteboard… I might grab it and start writing with my left hand. I have drawn and painted lefty with some success. More interesting, when I take the various profiles for how one thinks and processes information, my brain more closely resembles a classic lefty.
But there were some other ramifications that I trace back to a left-right switch. Every sport I’ve ever attempted, I’ve had to work twice as hard to learn an approach (I always want to be left-footed). When I shoot, I am left-eyed. I was able to switch-hit in both volleyball and baseball. That’s not all bad, I suppose.
But then there are the issues I had learning to write in cursive, being unable to distinguish between similar letters (think p, g, q) or which direction the bubble part of the 9 should face. I still have difficulties with left and right, clockwise and counter-clockwise. I didn’t understand how to read a clock until 12th grade, which was about the time that number lines started making a little sense. There are all sorts of things that I ought to be able to learn or memorize that just don’t make sense at all. All of that can be chalked up to a learning disability, but they point to a brain that needed to remap how numbers, letters, and directional relationships are processed.
So why didn’t Miss Trudie let lefties be lefty? In our culture, it was mostly so that lefties would fit in. And so that they could use the tools that were available. Any more, scissors and other tools are made to support ambidextrous use. And the ones that aren’t, adapted versions are available at specialty stores. There were some superstitions around left-handedness, and maybe they could be traced back to the same traditions that remain in practice in some Middle- and Far Eastern cultures today. The left hand is the one that does the dirty work, so to speak, putting those who are left-hand dominant in a position of having to change in order to be acceptable.
It has taken me much longer than it should have (given that I’m not really that dense) to realize that when people consider a person’s sexual orientation to be nothing more than a sinful behavior, they honestly believe it is separate from that person’s essential being. Repenting is just a matter of changing one’s mind and being diligent to resist the sinful behavior. The argument is that if a straight person can marry and resist the urge to become an adulterer, then someone who has been giving in to the urge to have homosexual relations should be able to stop and then resist. But what I never hear is what they are meant to do. Start dating someone of the opposite sex or just remain celibate for life?
What happens if they are wrong and the growing mass of legitimate scientific data is correct and sexual orientation is as much a part of the way an individual is wired as which hand is dominant? How much data will it take before that happens? After all, it was only after we’d sent men to the moon, crews of men and women to live in a space station and probes to the edges of our solar system that the Catholic Church changed its stance on Galileo and his heresy.
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3 thoughts on “>Left or Right

  1. I have a small disagreement with the above writer. I’m a lefty and graduated from Mrs.(or Miss) Hardaway’s school in 1959 and I don’t recall any pressure to use my right hand (thank goodness!). I do remember her her as a strict disciplinarian who not only spanked her students but, according to my parents, was not afraid to scold adults for bringing their children to school late. I remember standing in front of the camera upon graduating in a white uniform wih a white cap. I was one of the many kids whose birthday fell too late in the year so I was almost six when I started.

    • Hey Larry- thanks for the comment. I honestly never imagined any of Miss Trudy’s kids would find this post, so welcome! I agree- she definitely ran a tight ship (for students and parents), but I do remember that year fondly.

      I would have been there around 1971-72… I remember sitting in the living room to watch an Apollo mission on her big console television.

  2. I went to first grade at Trudy’s Kiddie College in College Station, Texas in 1963. I remember watching the news about Kennedy’s assassination on her television. Like you, I was a not-quite six-year-old. Thanks for the memories.

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