I would like your help today.
Do you have any lefties in your family? I am not talking about people with particular political views, but one of the supposed 10% of the population who do things the wrong way round.
That is what a right-handed person might say, anyway. The thing is I am one of those 10%. I’m left handed, but I do many things ‘the right way round’. That is because I have had to adapt over the years. No one ever gave me a left-handed gadget and said ‘here, try this. It will make your life so much easier.’
That is precisely why I am asking for help today. My five year old has almost come to the end of his first year at school. It took him a while to decide, but he is definitely left-handed. Luckily, for him, he does lots things with his right hand, which was why I think it took him so long to decide.
However, I didn’t think about buying any gadgets to help him, until the other day when he was struggling to use the scissors.
‘You have to use them in your other hand,’ I told him, which he did.
That is when it hit me. Why should he have to swap everything around and try to work out how to use it the other way? That is what I have spent my whole life doing and still do and it has been very frustrating.
Can you imagine a world where whenever you have to use something, or are told how to do something for the first time, your brain has to interpret the information and then swap it all around so that you can attempt to do it yourself. Here are some examples:
– I had an archery lesson with my daughter last year. It was very embarrassing because as the instructor was explaining how to hold the bow, position your fingers, set the arrow etc. I could not work it out. I had to wait until everybody had taken his or her first shot so that he could help me set mine up the other way round. Then I had to take my shot with all eyes on me. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you I hit the bulls eye would you?
– I decided I would like to take up sewing, but have struggled so much with the sewing machine that I convinced myself I was no good at it. My left-handed friend explained that she had similar problems because it’s the wrong way round for us. When I resorted to hand stitching, I realised that I sew with my left hand but go towards the right. A right-handed person showed me how to stich and that is how I interpreted it.
– I was rubbish at hockey at school because no one ever offered me a left-handed stick. I’m not sure they even existed back then and my parents would never have bought me one.
– I use scissors in my right hand, open cans using my right, but peel veg using a parring knife with my left. I have never been able to use a vegetable peeler.
– I could never draw a straight line with a ruler, no matter how hard I tried!
I’m from a generation where you were told to just get on with it, but I don’t want that for my son. Why should he have to swap everything around when he doesn’t need to? The question is what do I buy him?
From what I can gather, scissors, pens and rulers are popular for children and you can buy special mats that help them get the right angle of the paper they are writing on so that they don’t smudge the ink.
Have you tried and tested left-handed gadgets that you think are worth buying?
I found out when researching for this post that August 13th is left-hander’s day. It is a fun event, which aims to raise awareness of how difficult it can be for left-handed people. It suggests that you ask right-handed people to swap hands for the day. The things they might try with their left hand include:
• Stirring food in pans
• Filling & pouring a kettle
• Pouring from milk/measuring jugs
• Opening tins
• Peeling vegetables/fruit
• Opening wine bottles
• Using microwave/hob controls (often positioned on right of the equipment)
• Washing up (draining board is often wrong side if you are holding the brush in other hand, so you have to pass wet dishes across your body to drain).
• Using spatulas (angled ones go the wrong way for left hand use)
• Cutting bread (wonky slices using right-handed knife in left hand)
• Drawing a measured line with a ruler
• Having the computer mouse on the left of the keyboard and trying to draw a shape on screen, or clicking and dragging – we usually have to do this with our right hand as the mouse is always set up for right-handed users
• Using the computer keypad to enter lots of numbers – using wrong hand
• Drawing or writing in a ring binder/spiral bound notepad with left hand – binding hurts wrist
• Using fountain/ink pen or just felts and colouring in with left hand – smudged work and ink on side of hand as it follows the work
I had never heard of this day before and I think it is a great idea. I will definitely encourage my family to try some of these things on that day. It will help them to understand some of the difficulties that my son and I have to face. It will be our turn to laugh at them trying (and failing) to do things for a change!