Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A True Story: Why My Brain Works Like It Does

I was born left handed. My dad was a lefty, and I got that particular strand of DNA.

I did just fine until first grade, when the desks (and scissors) were all built for right-handed children. My teacher had bought into the "right handed is right" syndrome, so I was taught to write my letters and numbers with my right hand. In the second grade, a new teacher noticed that, while I wrote with my right hand, I did everything else with my left. She asked my mom..."Was she born left handed?" My mother confirmed this fact. "Oh, well, then... she really should be writing with her left hand too." I was switched back... learned to write with my left hand. Enter third grade: Uh oh. My first grade teacher had been promoted. She was now my third grade teacher. Switch back again. By fourth grade my handwriting was the most illegible henscratch you'd ever want to see. I was embarrassed. Essay questions were the worst. I got points off just because my teachers had to decipher the penmanship. I practiced, a lot. It was a lost cause.

By junior high I had figured out a solution... I printed everything. That seemed to work. When I was in college I even printed my term papers because typing was beyond me. I carefully lined up onion skin paper over a ruled sheet and my lines were perfectly straight, my letters like 14 point courier type. Life was good.

But what about all the psychological aftermath of all that switching? Was I scarred forever? Actually I don't think so. I think it's why my brain works the way it does... both sides now. I have a strong creative side, but I can balance a checkbook, ride a motorcycle, work an algebra problem. (Well I used to be able to work an algebra problem.) I am as comfortable with arts and crafts as bookkeeping and filing. Who knew?


kpjara said...

and I thought I had it rough! You go girl!

HeyJules said...

Okay, CJ, I'm coming clean here on your blog.

There were six of us in my family - two boys, two girls, and two parents. D. was the last kid born and all the boys at that point were right handed and all the girls were lefties. If D. didn't eat with her left hand, she was going to be a real pain at the dinner table. So...

We made her be left handed. :-)

It wasn't until years later that she was complaining about how bad her handwriting was compared to mine and moms and we both laughed...sorry kiddo...you're really RIGHT handed but you wouldn't "fit" at the table so we switched your hands.

I know I'm going to burn in hell for that but man, it beat bumping elbows at every meal!

Addie said...

Jules, thats just terrible - :)

CJ, any chance of any pics of you on a motorcycle?

Pilot Mom said...

My uncle was born left handed and they forced him to write right handed. He stuttered all his life. I do a lot of things left handed, like ironing, for one.

cgssis said...

As a militant southpaw (ask Sr. CG), I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I've heard may horror stories, but yours takes the cake.I was fortunate that my father, another southpaw, saw to it that no teacher messed with my choice of hands, and that I had all the proper tools that he could find. Yet, I believe that you are right. Since we have to live in a right-handed world, we learn to use both hands and both sides of the brain more than the majority. That makes us better at adapting to all kinds of situations.