August 01, 2005
Of all my childhood memories, the one of my father teaching me right and left is one of the most vivid. I don't remember how old I was, I think old enough to read, but probably not quite old enough to write, maybe around 5? My dad asked me something, and I got the directionality all wrong - I said something was to the left and it was actually to the right. Dad corrected me, and a few minutes later asked me again, and I got it wrong again. I was embarrassed and went to the kitchen pantry, chanting to myself which hand was right and which hand was left. I thought I had it all memorized and emerged excited to the living room. "Dad," I said, "this is my right hand, and this is my left." Of course I was wrong.
Dad took an old wide shoelace. He tied half of the shoelace on my left wrist, writing an "L" on it, and the other half on my right, writing an "R." He said, "okay, now wear this and look at the labels, and you will have it memorized in no time." I ran back to the kitchen pantry, this time really concentrating on getting it right. I chanted and chanted, memorizing the names like a poem, and a few minutes later ran back to my dad. "Dad," I said, "you can take the labels off now, I memorized it!" He asked if I was sure, and then cut the shoelaces with the labels off. "Now," he said, "which is your right hand?"
I victoriously lifted my left one.
Dad, this is for you:
20 years later, I'm still having trouble. However, it hasn't stopped me from working on the left front of my new wrap sweater: (the back is all done)
Or is the right front?