Gratitude,  Memories,  Musings,  Writer's moments

Sunday Snippet: The Lefty Edition

No, I’m not talking politics, I’m talking literally from the left side. That’s how I see life because I’m a lefty. And not just left-handed, but extremely left-handed. Don’t ask me to do much of anything with my right—it simply ain’t gonna happen. It’s not always easy being a lefty in a right-handed world.

I grew up during the time when old-fashioned school teachers thought that being a lefty was a bad thing. My first grade teacher thought it was just plain wrong, so she made me sit on my left hand and write with my right as I learned to form the alphabet. I did it. I was six and compliant to the point of passivity. What did I know? I had a problem and gracious Mrs. Carr was going to fix it for me. She’d stand behind me as I struggled with the fat pencil clutched in my right hand, creating awkward, ugly letters. “Don’t you switch,” she’d warn with a sharp tap on my shoulder, almost as if she sensed when I was about to give it up and go back to left-handed writing.

But writing with my right hand still felt wrong, even though I knew being a lefty was what was really wrong. So I practiced at home, sitting on my left hand, putting pencil to paper, and scrawling my letters. One evening, Mom passed by the table where I was working and stopped to stare at me. “What are you doing?” she asked.

Nan, age 6. Yeah, that’s really how Mom cut my bangs…

“Making my letters.”

“Why are you using your right hand?” She stooped over to gently remove the pencil from my tight grasp.

“Because the left one is wrong,” I replied. “I hafta learn to write with my right hand ′cause that’s how I’m ′posed to do it.”

“Who told you that?” Now she was sitting next to me, drumming the pink eraser end of the fat yellow pencil on the table in front of her.

“Mrs. Carr.”

“She makes you sit with your left hand under your leg in class?” Mom’s cheeks were reddening—a sure sign she was irritated.

“Yes.” Fear began to well up in me. I didn’t want Mom mad at me, too, so I said with six-year-old reasonableness. “It’s okay. I’m getting better at it.”

Mom just rolled her eyes, pulled my left hand from under my leg, and put the pencil between my fingers. “Do your letters with your left hand, honey. I’ll talk to Mrs. Carr.”

Later that night I heard her ranting on the phone to my grandfather about how incredibly stupid my teacher was. Poor Mrs. Carr was in for it now. You sure didn’t want my mom ticked off at you. She had mastered the withering stare and cutting word. Mom was badass.

The next morning she drove me to school. I sat in the front seat next to her feeling very small, and worrying that Mrs. Carr was going to lose her job because I couldn’t write with my right hand. I asked Mom if she was going to get my teacher in trouble with Mr. Mehaffey, the principal. Nobody deserved that.

“No,” she replied, giving me a grin. “I’m going to ask her to let you be yourself, my sweet, freckled little lefty. No one has the right to change something essential to you. God created you a lefty and that’s the way you’re supposed to be. So don’t try writing with your right hand anymore, do it with your left—it’s how you’ll do it best.”

I didn’t hear what was said to my teacher that morning. Mom pulled her out into the hallway, and Mrs. Carr shut the classroom door. But when it came time to do our penmanship lesson later that day, Mrs. Carr strolled over to my desk, took my pencil from my right hand, and placed into my left. “Do it this way from now on.” she said, and moved on. Nothing more was ever said about it.

The following Sunday, we had our usual after-church lunch at my grandparents. In the kitchen, I stood on a footstool next to the stove to watch my grandfather cook. He offered me the spoon to stir the gravy. I accepted it with my left hand, and as I began to stir the rich, thick sauce, he said, “You know, darlin’, being a lefty is a special thing. Any fool can write or do things with their right hand, but it takes someone extraordinary to be able to do things with their left.” He winked and smiled.

I tried on the word, whispering it to myself—extraordinary. It felt good. I was extraordinary and in this, if nothing else, Mrs. Carr was wrong. Being a lefty made me very special.

So here’s the question I’m tossing out to you today: How many  of you are lefties or are close to someone who is? Talk to me about how you, or they, see the world differently.

Stay safe, stay well, send light to Ukraine, and most of all, mes amies, stay grateful,


  • Roseann McGrath Brooks

    Wow. What a great mom! Talk about fighting the battles that need to be fought. I’ve always been a little jealous of lefties, having learned that left-handed people tend to be more creative. But that’s OK; we each have our gifts. Oh, and I can’t do a thing with my nondominant hand either!

    • Nan

      I am forever grateful that she fought for me. Not sure we’re more creative, but I think we do have tendency to be creative–maybe the result of having to deal with life in a righty world? Thanks for stopping by, Roseann!

  • Kaz Delaney

    Nan, I love this story. My heart broke for the little girl who was being forced to be other than herself; a little girl who was so kind and gracious – and grew to be such a kind gracious woman.

    Most of all? I LOVED your Mom. She was the best kind of Mom…
    Kaz – a rightie who is USELESS with her left.

    • Nan

      Hiya, Kaz! Bless you, sweetie! Yeah, my mom was badass, especially when it came to allowing her kids to be themselves. I didn’t respect that about her as much as I should have when I was younger…I missed being able to tell her how much I appreciated her. She died very young at 60. I miss her every day.

  • Leigh Ann Edwards

    I only have two children and both are left handed. I have always told my daughters they’re special and extra creative because they’re left handed. My son-in-law faced the same problems in school as you, Nan. The teacher was even more cruel in trying to enforce him to use his right hand. I think that contributed to his lifelong dislike of school.
    Lefties are very special!

    • Nan

      So glad you came by, Leigh. Isn’t it funny how things like that can affect your whole outlook forever? I’m so grateful for my mom and my granddad!

  • Sandy Pride

    My mother’s teacher tied her hand behind her back. On top of that, she started first grade when she was four, turning five in September. There were four in her class, the other three her boy cousins; she was picked on constantly. Her handwriting has always been awful, she typed when she could. Her self-esteem has never been outstanding, but she got her BA at age sixty.

    I taught first grade for so many years and never even noticed if a child was left or right-handed. I think it was because of Mom or that my brother was left-handed, so it seemed fine to me.

    I feel so badly whenever I hear that happened to a child.

    Happy Easter,


    • Nan

      Sandy, I knew as a first grade teacher, you’d find this story interesting. My first-grade teacher was very old school…but Mom brought her up-to-date real fast that day.