Friday, December 22, 2006

From Left Field

Today I was talking with buddy B and somehow, the subject of right handed vs. left handed came up. B is left handed, and so is my darling daughter, Mayhem. I am unable to unearth any other family members, on my side or her dad's side, that are lefties.

That sparked an interesting discussion about famous southpaws and how Mayhem is in good company. DaVinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Picasso, Ben Franklin, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Joan of Arc, Oprah Winfrey, Henry Ford, Helen Keller, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer, Carol Burnett... all of them left handed. Jay Leno. David Letterman. Paul McCartney. Simon and Garfunkel (both). Julia Roberts. Even Barack Obama.

But look at those names. What do you notice? You got it. There's a disproportionate number of males. It's even more noticeable if you do a search for famous left-handers. Are more males left-handed? Or do more left-handed males become famous?

And what the hell does this have to do with knitting, anyway?

Good question. I'll tell you.

Mayhem wants to learn to knit. I've managed to teach her some crochet basics. I was even able to teach her left-handed, even though I'm a righty. I want to teach her to knit left-handed, though. After all, she's a lefty.

If you read yesterday's post, you already know I managed to teach a seventh grade boy to knit. But for me, seventh graders are easy. I've been working on seventh graders for 16 years! Seven year olds are a different story! And one who does everything backwards (I guess to a lefty that would be an insult) from the way I do it is even more challenging. Yes, she looks like a mini-me. In many ways that is where the similarity ends.

I could teach her right-handed and then try to transfer it. Here's why I don't want to do that. My parents grew up in Germany during WWII. If you know anything about Hitler, you know he loved conformity. Anyone growing up left-handed during that time in Germany was forced to learn to do everything right-handed in school. My dear Tante Annamarie, who was like my second mother and grew up with my mother, had a horrible time as a natural left-handed person. Imagine doing everything with your dominant hand until you reach school age and then having to learn all over again, by being physically punished. I remember asking her growing up why she cooked and crocheted and sewed left-handed but used her right hand for writing. That's when Tante Annamarie told me about what school was like when Hitler was in power... until the war became bad enough for school to cease.

Mayhem is a lefty. There shouldn't be a penalty for that. She's smart, creative, artistic and bold. She already knows when we sit down to eat that she needs to be at the end of the table where she won't be bumping into someone. Mayhem advocates for herself at school when her teacher rearranges the classroom - "Put me at an end, please, I need elbow room."

During our break from school, while I'm working (hopefully) on my raglan sweater, I'll be teaching my lefty to knit... left handed. Of course, she might be too busy with the paint and clay and markers and colored pencils and...


Anonymous Liz (the other) said...

How about you sit across from her and have her mirror you actions? DH is a lefty-neither kid is though. Goodluck and Merry Christmas Karen

Saturday, December 23, 2006 at 12:36:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ollie's a lefty too, and so is my dad. I find it tough to teach him how to do things leftywise, but worthwhile.

One simple trick that works with him is to have him sit on my lap and watch me as I try to do something left handed; I'm no more clumsy at it than he would be starting out, and he can watch more closely. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006 at 11:02:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My understanding is that more males are left-handed. Lefties also tend to congregate in the higher-than-average and lower-than-average IQ categories--I think there's a theory about how testosterone levels during pregnancy can affect handedness and also things like IQ.

I am a lefty (as you can probably figure :) ) and I knit Continental, which I find very comfortable, and otherwise "normally," except that my long-tail cast-on is left-handed. I've heard that knitting left-handed means you have to work a little harder at interpreting patterns, though I haven't attempted it myself. It's true in guitar, though. I play left-handed, which means my strings are backwards and my fretboard isn't marked and I can never quite figure out the chord charts because they're backwards and upside down. But that's worth it to me; maybe knitting left-handed will be worth it to Mayhem.

Also, I learned to play guitar mainly by mirroring my guitar teacher, as Liz suggested, for what it's worth.

Thursday, December 28, 2006 at 5:03:00 PM EST  
Blogger g-girl said...

I love that mayhem advocates for herself in school..a 7 year old! Wish I was that smart when I was 7 years old. I'm a lefty who was taught by 3 right-handed people--but it wasn't until that third person that things started to click. The way she did it was she showed me the knit stitch for example first and then I tried to do it and we went back and forth that way. I knit left-handed..continental I think!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007 at 9:29:00 PM EST  

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