Literacy and Liberty

Almost Ambidextrous
Posted by: , September 20, 2018, 5:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I cannot pinpoint my exact age when I picture the first moment in my memory connecting to reading or writing. In my mind’s eye I can imagine precisely where I am standing, almost like watching an old video, in front of the off-white colored refrigerator rearranging magnetic letters to form simple words. I do not recall what words I had yet learned to form, but I know that the magnets were red and slightly peeling from the usage of two sisters before me.

Once I learned to read small things, I frantically tried to absorb everything that I possibly could. I had two older sisters who were both fairly competent readers by that point, and they used to enjoy taunting me about my own inadequate skills. One of my most favorite activities was reading to the family dog. I thought that she was the most captivated listener and I would read to her whenever I was able. I used to take great pleasure in riding in the car and shouting the names of all the street signs that I could read as loud as I could. I quickly was given the moniker “bookworm” and I absolutely loved it.

My experience with learning to write involved somewhat more of a “love/hate” relationship than that of reading. I identify as almost ambidextrous. I say almost because I was raised right-handed but do many activities with my left. The Catholic pre-school that I went to when I was aged three and four years apparently believed that none of the children should learn to write with anything but their right hand. That is why, when I began to show signs of that sinful left-handed dominance, I was forced to switch hands. As a result of this discomfort with writing early on, I had great difficulty forming letters and grasping how to write as quickly as my peers. To this day, I still hold my chosen writing implement in a bizarre position which resembles that of a child who has never written before. Moreover, my handwriting I have been told, is as close to “chicken scratch” as could be.

4 Comments so far
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I found myself laughing as I read! I love this story and I think a lot of people can relate to it on multiple different levels. I was also the “bookworm” and I appreciate you being comfortable enough to put it out there.

   Logan Cort 09.20.18 @ 8:37 pm

I related so much to your forced right-handed experience. It’s almost impossible to write with left hand in my country. It doesn’t only immensely hinder the process of learning how to write in children but also creates a sense of discomfort in innate left-handed kids. But you manage to view the positivity out of this horrible experience and I cannot agree more with you.

   Scarlett Nguyen 09.21.18 @ 1:38 pm

This is adorable and so personal. I totally understand what you were saying about competing with your older siblings, as my older cousins used to taunt me in the same way! I also connected to your weird way of holding your pencil, because my sister does the same.

   Jess 09.21.18 @ 2:29 pm

Oh my gosh, Meredith: you and Julia need to talk about left-handedness and arcane early education rules about kids’ reading and writing. Also, as Jess reflects: there is nothing like older siblings to push a younger sister, intellectually and otherwise.

…are those well-worn magnets still on your family’s refrigerator?

   Professor Seiler 09.25.18 @ 1:51 pm

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