Children. Don’t we love them? Those little bundles of joy that fill our hearts with pride each time we hug them and they enclose their little fingers around our large ones. Oh, and how fast they grow! One day they’re running around, destroying anything and everything they come across, and the next they’re all grown up ready to take the world by its axis; conquer. As they are growing up, parents usually attempt to provide them with all their needs an maybe more, just as they had envisioned in their daydreams; but sometimes their goodwill towards them simply isn’t enough. Yesterday was the 13th of August, a day not many people have an idea that it is the international lefthanders day. I know you might not see anything validly important about this, but let us indulge you for a moment or two about these special kids.
So this child is born, Danny. He is the most handsome, sweetest little one year old you have ever set eyes on. Everyone loves him, and they should, he is just too chic and mignone. Soon, he begins to try his hand, playing with a few toys bought for him. He picks them up with his left hand and tosses them around. You notice nothing. In your eyes he’s like brie. Danny continues with his little bubbly self, seemingly enjoying every moment of his just started life.
He soon turns three. Time to take him to school. You buy him a nice little backpack and uniform that fits snugly into his little frame. The explorer in him is delighted to find himself in a new environment although he is a little scared of leaving you. On seeing other children, he is happy to make new friends and off he goes to class; the first day. Eager to pick him up in the evening, he seems fine, but there’s a certain dark ray in his eyes. This continues for a while. The once curious Danny is no longer interested in school! Always looking for excuses to stay away. He once knew how to count to 10, even before he joined kindergarten, but now is experiencing some difficulty. You decide to confront the teacher. You find out that he is being forced to write using his right hand, being thwacked if he can’t keep up, being punished for something natural, not at all his fault. Quite common a practice in fact, but you can’t see him suffer, so you change schools. You inform the new teacher accordingly. There’s a glimmer of hope in Danny’s eyes again. Mission accomplished, or is it?
The challenge for him has just began. He must now learn how to write. Its not like shooting fish in a barrel. There’s barely anyone to help him. They all try, but they’re right handed, which really doesn’t help. At three, he must develop a way of writing that suits him, with little or no guidance from relevant sources. His writing is not the best, but he is doing great for a self-taught three year old.
He joins primary school, words begin to have deeper meaning. However, all words he hears are telling him that he is wrong, that left is wrong. A friend walking clumsily is said to have ‘two left feet’, comments such as ‘left-handed complement’ which he overhears continue degrading his self-confidence and for him everything with left is bad. For a child, this is too much to process. Back at home he begins to help out here and there. But he does nothing right. He just cannot clinch a thing, at least not the way you want him to. The child is very clumsy, often criticized. Afterall, children his age can only do so much. Danny struggles silently, with no one to tell him that its not his fault, that his awkwardness is a result of using tools designed for righties. He takes it to heart, heck he can’t even perform simple tasks flawlessly. His self-worth is badly wounded.
But he’s just growing up. You buy him spiral books without knowing that this is a hell you’re making him go through. He can’t write comfortably in them. He has to push the pen to make a writing not pull like the righties do. You buy him jeans, but the zipper conspiracy forces him to twist his hand all the way just to zip them up. He looks at decals, they’re all upside down! He tries using a measuring tape, but the labels are also upside down. Now he’s got to accept that he’ll spend an entire lifetime bumping elbows with righties. He abhors scissors. He cannot stand the sight of them let alone use them. The amount of pain that little tool inflicts on his hand is immeasurable. He goes to college. Yes the trouble doesn’t let him be, the lecture hall desks aren’t meant for him. Not even the video game controllers accept him (though nowadays there are modified ones for lefties).
Danny grows up hearing that his kind never live long, approximately nine years less than other people (a fact that has since been disapproved) but he believes it. His self-worth is at an all time low. By the time he realizes that it is just life, that it isn’t a huge deal, not an issue at all, the damage has already been done. Irreparable damage to his psychology.
Yet Danny is among the elite few, among the 10%, among the movers and shakers of the world. His kind are overrepresented among the geniuses, the likes of Einstein and Newton. Four of the past seven US presidents were left-handed, so is the current Kenyan president. Yes, they only make 10% of the world’s population but they make the star interactive sports players, geniuses, heroes, heroines and even presidents. Who knows? Maybe Danny could be the next Bill Gates (also lefthanded).
So today, just for today, respecting a day like yesterday, use your left hand to perform an ordinary task. Use a pair of scissors or a potato peeler. Step into the shoes of this young one and see how much it hurts to walk in a world designed for others.
(This article was co written by me and a growing writer Hampton Macharia)