When I was in First Grade, I wrote with both hands. When the teacher said, Alright, children, pick up your pencils and begin writing, I would gather a pencil in each hand, write with one hand until it got tired, and then switch hands to write with the other. I was six years old at the time and thought nothing of it.
One day I was caught talking during class time and had to write, I will not talk in class, five-hundred times. I went home and began writing in my normal fashion, using my left hand until it began to fatigue, then switching to my right.
When I handed in the work, the teacher asked me who helped me do the writing. I promptly told her that I did it all. She accused me of cheating. I denied it. Then she pointed to two lines in the middle of one page and said, “These are written by different hands.”
Oh, that, I said. That’s my right hand, I said, pointing to one line, and then pointing to the other. I added, “And that’s my left.”
When she refused to believe me, I walked up to the chalk board, grabbed two pieces of chalk (one in each hand) and wrote two more times, I will not talk in class, one left-handed and one right-handed. I thought that settled the matter when she let me go.
A few days passed and my parents brought up the subject. At first, I thought I was in trouble again for talking in class. However, it turned out that writing with both hands was frowned upon at the time. I was told that I needed to pick one hand and stick to it. Being 1964”as I now look back–I am surprised that they didn’t tell me to use my right hand. And while I think it was wrong to make me choose, I give my parents credit for giving me the choice rather than forcing me to be right-handed, since being right-handed was considered so much more normal back then. I give most of the credit to my mother since I now know she had her own trials around this issue when she was a child, since she too was left-handed.
As we sat around the dinner table that evening, I asked each person in the family what hand they preferred to use. My brother, sister, and dad all said they were right-handed. My mom said she was a lefty. I thought for a bit as I ate my dinner, then announced, I don’t want mom to be the only one who’s left-handed. I’m going to be left-handed like mom.
Today I can still write with both hands, although my right hand penmanship is horrible–it’s much worse than my left hand. And while my tendency is to do most things right-handed–it is a right-handed world–I am quite ambidextrous. In fact, I again write with both hands. I just use a keyboard when I do.