Carlitos is left-handed.
I have always thought of this fact as merely another trait I can use to describe him.
Carlos Eli: Light brown hair. Dark brown almond eyes. Silly. Alphabet lover. Building cities with blocks lover. Knocking block cities over lover. Anchovy, caper and olive eater. Bug hater. Tall. Thin. Affectionate. Tiger fearing lion lover. Friendly. Book lover. Emotional. Loud. Passionate. Broccoli eater who hates avocado. Baby brother protector. Baby brother tormentor. Dancing fool. Independent. Counting maniac. Stubborn. Sweet, sweet little boy. Lefty.
I knew that there were ‘things’ that came with being left-handed. My mother-in-law has always told the story of being locked in a closet with a photo of the devil while in elementary school in Panama. The nuns working every angle they could to try to rid her of her connection to Satan himself: her left-handedness. She is one of the most generous people I know, so I can’t imagine she actually has any connection to the devil. But perhaps the nuns of her youth would tell you that is because their aggressive tactics of transforming her into a right-handed little girl also rid her of the devilish traits believed to accompany using your left hand. She always tells this story with a laugh. And her audience always laughs along with her. How silly and ancient one must be to actually believe that being left-handed demonstrates dark, sinister qualities.
On the contrary, I was always raised to believe that being left-handed is actually a blessing. My mother is an artist, and while she is right-handed, she always told me that being left-handed ensured that you were filled with creative juices far beyond those of any other ‘average’ individual.
So, when it became apparent that my first-born was clearly favoring his left hand I didn’t think that much of it. If anything, I was happy that this child, who was already showing signs of brilliance (I know, I know. Says his mother, of course.) would also have a strong creativity. Something, quite honestly, that I have always wished for in myself. How wonderful that his future would hold so many options, paths and passions.
But then I stumbled across this article, On the Left Hand, There are No Easy Answers in the New York Times. Well, what mother doesn’t want to see the words ‘schizophrenic, immune disorders, dyslexia, criminality’ when reading about a trait of her child? Isn’t that just lovely.
Obviously, being left-handed does not actually mean that you will suffer these effects, and in fact much of the article mentions studies that dispute any connection at all. But this information is now there. In my brain. Tumbling around, creating questions and worry.
The truth is, Carlitos is an exceptionally healthy, happy and intelligent child. (Again, says his mother. I know.) After this article fades a bit from my own memory, I know I will take it’s points with a grain of salt. But it is a reminder of one of the more difficult areas of being a parent: the fear. Sometimes it feels like around every corner there is another study with frightening conclusions. Conclusions that could affect the little pieces of my heart that walk around outside of me in their little converse sneakers every day.
Only organic EVERYTHING from now on. No plastic ANYTHING. Put down the deli meats. Drop that painted toy. Don’t ride in cars. Or on buses. Or in planes. Or on trains. Rinse that chemical-filled soap off of your skin this instant. Spit out that tainted spinach. Back away from the microwave. Remove the plush stuffed animals from your bed. And for God’s sake, let’s move to Iceland to get away from this pollution.
Now, I need to worry about which hand he prefers to use when drawing dinosaurs and dragons? (Oh no! Do you think it is a sign of his ‘savage criminality’ that he loves dinosaurs and dragons?!?)
Well, I can’t take it. My heart can’t take it. And to be honest, I am not sure my marriage could take it. For all of these reasons, I have managed to stop myself from actually raising my children in a bubble. But if you are a mom, you know a part of me wants to. Part of me wants to protect them from every ounce of negativity, illness, pain…and dirt, in the whole universe.
But it just isn’t possible. And my brain keeps reminding my heart that it isn’t even what’s best for them in the long run either. There has to be a sense of moderation. A lessening of the neuroses that motherhood can create.
So, back to my son’s left hand. I will continue to let him use it to throw baseballs. To learn how to write letters. To put together puzzles. To give his daddy a high five.
To eat frosting.
Because I can’t actually change this part of who he is. I would never want to. And I can’t dwell on fear inducing articles, because you can find scary statistics or ‘possible correlations’ about just about anything these days.
I guess I just have to hope that if being left-handed has any navigational control over his life path, that it is in the direction of immensely successful fellow left-handers like Leonardo da Vinci or President Obama. Yes, there is another creative, charismatic, genius headed out into life with the whole world in his hand – his left hand, of course.
*The teacher in me says “Here’s a link if you want to learn more!” I’m not the author of the article(s) below, but it’s still decent writing, I guess… I mean, if you like writing that isn’t mine.*
“Right-Handers, But not Left-Handers, are Biased to Select Their Dominant Hand.” Science Daily. March 8, 2011
Onion, Amanda. The Left-Handed Advantage.” ABC News. February 17, 2005