How It All Started

It’s one of those things. No one ever remembers the day one decided that one was going to be left- or right-handed.  Presumably, a toddler picked up her pencil/pen/crayon/mother’s favorite lipstick and started to doodle on the paper/table/floor/original Mona Lisa way before she could retain memories in her head.  (If you happen to read this and do remember, do leave a comment and share your amazing experience, or the reason why your parents gave you something to write with so late in life).  Almost like being circumcised.

One of the earliest indications of my minority status came up at the dining table. During dinners with the extended family, when we would take turns to sit at the round dining table (because there were more people than seats at that table), some family members would suggest that the lefties sit together so they would cause minimum disruption to the table procedures of the rest.  However my most vivid memory was when, I musta been about 6, Mom decided one day that it was not good for a child to write with the left. I was, and still am, not quite sure what caused her to suddenly think that there was a need for such radical reforms.  At 6, I thought I was doing pretty ok.  Did a mean uncle tell her about how my left arm impeded his quest to be first to the chicken drumstick? Or did she come across dodgy research about how lefties have 10 years less on this wonderful planet?  A clue I hadn’t.

But one day she decided that it wasn’t good. She sat me down on my home dining table (square, so the person who snitched musta been someone from the extended family), and told me that I needed to practice writing with my right.  My memory fails me ‘cos it was so long ago (sometimes I wish I journal’d), but there was some yelling, some corporal punishment, some tears (on my part), and strong resistance.  Now I am no longer able to recall why the strong resistance.  Maybe the right-handwriting was so atrocious even a 6-year-old like me could tell it was fugly. Bottom line was, Mom failed utterly at that instance (I don’t blame her at all, she did what she did out of love, and she is a fantastic mother). And that thing that was and is so intrinsic to the person that I am, survived. It survived to join me to face the rest of this strange world for the rest of my life.

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4 thoughts on “How It All Started

  1. Suz says:

    So… the trick is to catch them before 6?

  2. Alma says:

    Cheng, we have a similar story. I was a leftie when I was a kid but got some corporal treatment around the same age to make sure that I’ll do it the “right way”. Now that I am older, the leftie in me would still manifest during meal times but I just stopped “correcting it” and decided to be just myself–a part-time leftie 🙂

    • teochenghang says:

      Thanks Alma. I wonder if quality of life would increase if a suppressed lefty emancipated herself…better handwriting, lower golf scores and frisbees that went the way the thrower intended.

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