Living the Lefty Life in a Righty World

Cooking and Recipes Featured GeekMom Science
Lefty power! Image capture: Patricia Vollmer.

I’m a southpaw! I’ve always been proud to be in this elite 8-15 percent of the world population. Did you know that in 2008, you had no choice but to elect a left-handed president? Four of the last seven presidents are left-handed, and seven presidents total have been lefties (16 percent). Fascinating, don’t you think?

I polled the other GeekMoms and it turns out, I’m possibly the only one (out of those who responded) who is left-handed. I was particularly intrigued by this, since there are around 20 of us, and if I’m truly the only lefty that would make our group only 5 percent left-handed.

Left-handers also have an advantage in sports, particularly in baseball, since they can add an element that most players don’t train for.

I remember my parents making sure I had left-handed scissors for school each year. I also remember my mom struggling to teach me how to use chopsticks, knitting needles, and crochet hooks as a young girl. Luckily for me, I play sports (including fishing) and musical instruments right-handed. I also use firearms (for my Air Force work) right-handed.

In today’s world of spending most of my time at a computer, there’s very little that I need to do that really reminds me (and the world around me) of my sinistrality.

But every once in a while… I’m reminded. And sometimes it can be downright frustrating! Most often, I’m reminded in the kitchen. Today while making a fruit smoothie with my Ninja Blender, I was reminded once again.

The Ninja Blender is designed for right-handed use, evidenced by the handle on the right, spout on the left. The motor only fits on top of the pitcher in this direction—believe me, I tried it the other way! Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Here are some other kitchen gadgets that favor right-handers:

What on earth is this? Holding it with my left hand, it’s hard to tell. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Oh! I see! It’s a can opener! I got it as a gift and don’t use it. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Pay no attention to the chip on my favorite geek coffee mug, covered in weather facts! I know, I can use it as a lefty just fine! Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
But if I were right handed, I’d be greeted with this pretty cloud and sun art with every sip of my AM elixir. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Most can openers are designed for right-handed folks. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
This is a pie server. Actually, I’m not sure of the Emily Post-sanctioned name for this utensil, but that’s what I call it. Note the serrated edge that faces up when I’m holding the utensil in my left hand.  Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

So the next time you are shopping for your favorite sinistral southpaw, consider ambidextrous kitchen gadgets 🙂

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28 thoughts on “Living the Lefty Life in a Righty World

  1. Any idea when left/right is determined in kids? My 19 month old has chosen to pick food up with his left hand since he was ten months old so we’re wondering…

    1. I’m not completely sure. I remember sorta rooting for my kids to be left-handed from about age 1 (it’s lonely in my family of righties)…but doctors telling me “you won’t know right away” and suggested I not get wrapped up in it until they start writing and using utensils in earnest.

      I wonder if you might see other subtleties, such as which foot he leads off of when he walks, or heads up/down stairs…or which hand he puts out instinctively when he’s trying to steady himself if he’s losing his balance?

      However, those are all pure matronly speculation. I’m anything but a doctor – and if I were one it certainly wouldn’t be a medical type. I was lousy at biology!

      1. My daughter is (to my dismay) left handed as well. She has been since she started eating food. Her left hand was always her first choice. Now at three she eats, writes, colors, and throws lefty too. I’m not dismayed that she is left handed. I’m dismayed that I, a right-handed mom, have to try and teach my left handed daughter how to do stuff lefty. It helps, though, that my mom is left handed. She can help. (I wonder if those genetics just skipped a generation…)

    1. I hear ya about the scissors Lisa! I remember those green-handled scissors when I was a kid, but I can’t seem to find them anymore, except for from specialty retailers (like an eBay shop).

      I’ve given up and just learned to use right-handed scissors. It’s not as natural as picking the up with my left hand, but I muddle through…

      Love the mug!

  2. Southpaw also. Both my maternal grandparents are lefties but I’m the only grandchild out of I think 16 that are. I now have a left handed son. 🙂 My right handed son is working on his handwriting (he’s 5) and I honestly have the hardest time with helping him hold the pencil right and it just seems backwards when I stand behind him. The lefty son and I are way more alike, creative and artistic…plus, he holds the pencil the right way. 🙂

    1. Very awesome Heather! The only other lefty on my side of the family (we checked at a reunion in the late 1980s) is one aunt…out of my grandparents, 4 uncles, 4 aunts and about a dozen cousins.

      My husband and both my sons are right-handed…but we seem to be doing well teaching them basic skills in every way except one:

      My sons (ages 6 and 8) are learning to cut their foods with a knife. For some reason, I keep my fork in my left hand, knife in my right to cut foods. My husband reverses his utensils for cutting and one of my sons inquired about it recently. We had no good explanation, except to tell them to do whatever is comfortable. They’re still figuring it out…

  3. After decades of using right-handed scissors and kitchen tools, I’m not sure I could even use a left-handed version!

    I did struggle for a little while using a camera right-handed. The first few times, I wanted to support the weight of the lens with my right hand and control the button with my left, but I guess I learned the “right” way eventually because now I don’t even think about it.

    I should ask my mother how hard it was to teach me to crochet left handed. 🙂 But I knit right handed.

    1. Ha ha! I also knit right handed, but crochet left. My mother couldn’t teach me to crochet…as an adult I picked up “Crocheting for Dummies” and figured it out. They have a section about left-handed crocheting, if memory serves.

      Thanks for sharing SusanS!

  4. George HW Bush, Bill Clinton and H. Ross Perot are also all left handed! So 1992 had the same thing!

    Bob Dole was forced to become a lefty when he injured his right arm. So 1996 sort of had the same thing.

  5. I used to be considered left-handed, but sadly, no longer. Since ‘they’ introduced the concept of “dual-handed”, I am placed firmly in the middle ground. My handedness is defined by which hand is responsible for gross- versus fine-motor skills.
    I write left-handed, and golf right handed.
    So, does that mean I’m only semi-sinister?

    ***Ambidextrous – can use both hands equally
    ***Dual-handed – left hand for some tasks, right hand for others

    1. Count me in as another member of club ‘Dual-handed’. I’m still rather attached to being thought of as a lefty. ‘Dual-handed’ just feels so lukewarm….neither one nor the other. I much prefer the brain-oriented term, ‘Cross-dominant’. It feels more special.

      I’m left handed for writing and most other fine-motor oriented tasks, ambidextrous with eating utensils, minigolf, hockey, baseball batting (equally bad at both!) and right dominant for pretty much everything else.

    2. I guess you could call me “Dual-handed” instead of ambidextrous. Like Kurt, I couldn’t write with my right hand to save my life, and I couldn’t golf left handed to save my life….

    3. I think that as a rule us lefties can’t help but fall into the “dual-handed” group. When most things are designed for righties (firearms, scissors, cars, at least over here, kitchen appliances and most electronics, just to name a few) it’s difficult if not impossible to be a pure lefty. That said, I still consider myself a lefty.

  6. I am a lefty too like my oldest brother. 2 of 4 siblings are lefties.
    I have also Dyslexia, meaning I tend to mix up q,p,d,b.
    This infomartion is maybe related to this story:
    I was teached knitting form my right-handed mother in a right-handed way.
    One day I picked up the sock my mom was knitting and did a few lines. Later my mom came to my and ask if I did something to the sock, because the circular knitting was “backwards”.
    It appeared I knitted mirror inverted WITHOUT REALISING IT !

    1. Berg-Ulme,

      Very interesting indeed! I wonder if we lefties might do circular knitting on the outside of the sock, while righties do it on the inside of the sock? Or vice-versa? I might need to check with my right-handed sister the next time I’m around while she’s working on a sock.

  7. Personally, I think being a lefty in a right world makes us far more creative. Have you seen righty’s try to cope with items for leftys? I can hear the howls of laughter from my fellow southpaws.

    But I see no mention of here which is a shame. They ship to the US and is a haven for us leftys from stationery to kitchen instruments, even left-handed keyboards! They also have lots of items to help parents of left-handed kids start writing, etc.

    1. Wow, I’d never heard of that website, it sounds great! (Once I was high school, I stopped seeking out items expressly for left-handers…and I guess that was even before the Internet was widely used). I like how they have a link to Amazon’s Lefty Shop, too!

      Thanks Wendy for sharing!

  8. I’ve been a lefty for as long as I can remember, I’m also the only one in my family, possibly extended family. My older brother started out as a lefty as well but my mother forced him to become a righty, she tried the same with me, but I guess I was more stubborn than he was. I write, sew, and use eating utensils left-handed, but I knit, crochet, use firearms (prior Marine) and mouse with my right hand. Interesting thing about firearms, if handed-ness is assigned properly it’s not by which hand is dominant but by which eye is dominant. I’m capable of writing right-handed but I’m better with my left, not by much though, and for the life of me, I can’t knit or crochet with my left hand.

    1. I just watched “The King’s Speech” last weekend and apparently King George VI was forced from being left handed to right handed. He had a stammer.

      My father in law told me that his Dad (my husband’s grandfather) had a mild stammer and he was also forced to become right handed.

      There’s no medical evidence connecting the two, just empirical…did your brother stutter or have a stammer at all?

      I can totally see how a dominant eye would dictate which hand is better for firing a weapon. I have memories of my eye getting very tired sometimes at the firing range…I wonder if it means I should have been firing left-handed all these years. Worth a shot the next time I visit the range.

  9. My husband, bless him, found an ambidextrous manual can opener just for me several years ago. I also love the fact that I work with kiddie scissors, since these days they’re also designed to be ambidextrous.

    Did you ever reposition the old single-click computer mice to the left side of your keyboard? It would drive anyone who wanted to borrow mine in college nuts.

    1. I did try to use a mouse with my left hand back in the 90s when mice were first developed as peripherals. I had a hard time, and then others couldn’t use the same computer. So for the past 25 years I’ve been using it right-handed. Oh well 🙂

      Your husband sounds awesome! Yay for helping you in the kitchen!

      1. That’s funny because I’m right-handed and I use the mouse on the left. I made the change because of tendonitis in my right elbow. Took me a few days to get used to the feel (why did the screen look different? I have no idea!) but now it feels natural. For a while, I had both twins using the mouse left-handed too. The youngest daughter swapped back but her twin never did. But then, the youngest son is ambidextrous.

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