Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The Right to be Left
My name is Farah and I am a mother to left-handers.
Yes. Both of my children are left handed (A'aesyah who will turn one soon is showing preference for the left hand)
Ok..so what is the big deal?
It is actually. To me personally although I am right handed.
If one favors their left hand, people do tend to notice. But some fail to notice that because left hand children work differently using their hands, even the most simplest task may proved to be very difficult for them.
These become more prominent when they start school.
Teachers at pre-school do not notice how different left handed children write especially on how they form letters.
Aliya was always stuck on her small "t"s and "f"s during those years she was learning to write.
The work books teachers gave did not help nor the teachers themselves, as the flow of the letter formation in preschool education was catered for right handed children.
Another overlooked task is using the scissors.
"when you close the scissors, the cutting edges close and are pressed rogether because your fingers holding the scissors bend and your thumb stretches. If the cutting edges are pushed away from each other, the material being cut slides in between and is definitely not cut. This is what happens when you use a right hand scissors with your left hand"
Fortunately there is a store that helps lefty kids who face this problem and there is the internet for a mother like me - an abundance of literature to browse and read through to assist my daughter.
And as for the smudging and sort when she uses felt pens, I encourage her to use the computer instead and these beautiful masterpieces are born.
However the biggest challenge is how my eldest child has to face discrimination, oppression and humiliation when she was small.
A classic example is was a rude remark made to her when she was helping my mother out in the kitchen. Using a butter knife, my mother was training her cooking by cutting snake beans.
She was told harshly that (not by family though nor by my mother) "you are using a hand you wash your poop with".
As harsh as that would be to me and condemning I have bad mothering skills, it has more destructive ill-effects to the child.
Ages 0-5 are the crucial years in a child's development.
The lasting effects of this kind of humiliation on a child is undoubtedly, as it is a sign of disapproval and negativity. Whether it was said unintentionally; it’s no excuse.
It lowers your child's self-esteem and self-confidence.
I am a Muslim in a country where it is faux pas for someone to use your left hand or left leg for that matter. This is fully understandable as in response to the Prophet's recommendations or to follow his example of preferring to use the right hand
It is a sunna to use the right hand for noble matters, and the left hand for lowly matters, whenever reasonably possible.
Thus, as a muslim :
- to eat with our right hand
- to enter the mosque with our right feet
are some examples of what is to be expected if you are a muslim.
But to repeat my earlier statement, it is "in response to the Prophet's recommendations or to follow his example".
RECOMMENDATIONS see? - Not a clear cut HALAL or HARAM.
I have heard of other examples where as muslim children they were told that if you use your left hand you will enter hell *eyes rolling*
Islam teaches us that we are not accountable for such actions that are beyond our ability or means.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
"Allah does not burden any soul with more than it can bear." (Al-Baqarah 2:286)
"He has not placed any hardship for you in your religion." (Al-Hajj 22:78)
"Allah wants ease for you, not hardship." (Al-Baqarah 2:185)
With all that said however, I do not advocate the encouragement of my daughter to use her left hand to eat.
I simply embraced her difference by allowing her to use spoons and forks more often.
In time she does know that if she were to use her hands to eat she should use her right hand.
When A'aesyah was born in 2008, I never imagined that I would be blessed with another left handed child. Although it is too early to tell, she seems to favour her left hand rather than the other.
Thus I feel, Allah swt is Merciful...he knows how diligent I am to perfect my mothering skills and he has given me a second chance to make it WORTHWHILE and REWARDING by fine tuning it. The things I learn now to prepare A'aesyah in turn will be beneficial for Aliya as well.
As a voice on behalf of my children, I know deep down the most important thing they want is for us to allow them to be left-handers.
I am hopeful that any teachers or educators reading this, might may pay a little more attention to help out the left handed children in their classroom, or having proper scissors for preschooler (or advise their parents to do so) and encourange their staff to teach proper letter forming to left-handers.
And that anyone who has a left handed child, related to one or know one might not discriminate them especially if they are muslim and come up with that classic humiliation of "you are using a hand you wash your poop with"
I am not asking special treatment for my daughter(s)...
"Left-handedness is a human development taking its natural course. It is not an active choice by the child to be different."
..how do I know this? Ask my husband. He was a left hand child and still is :)
Happy International Left Hander's day! Its a day to celebrate your RIGHT!
On 13th August 1992 the Club launched International Left-Handers Day, an annual event when left-handers everywhere can celebrate their sinistrality and increase public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed. This event is now celebrated worldwide (although Malaysia celebrates it during the previous weekend 8th & 9th August)
Farah Rahim is the co founder of the REAL FOOD movement in Malaysia under the local support group called "HOMEMADE - Air Tangan Ibu" as well as an advocate of managing asthma, allergies and eczema naturally via NaturalAAE. She's the official Malaysia's ambasador of Jamie's Food Revolution. When not an activist she's a Stay at Home Mom to 3 girls who loves nothing but good ol' homecooked meals.