Family: What is progress, anyway?

Three of the seven children in my family were born with the rather dubious distinction of being left handed.

I was one of them.

For me, being left handed was not a problem. In fact, I kind of liked it. I thought it was cool, sort of like a mark of distinction that I had been given for no other reason than just because that’s the way the stars were aligned.

It was a gift!

When I was a child, people, older, wiser people, would look at my writing and say things like, “oh, she’s such a nice writer. She’s left handed, too, they would add, somewhat, incredulously.

And then they would pause, and, so I would pause, too, looking at my left hand in awe.

It was then I decided I must have been born with some kind of special talent.

However, my sister and my brother did not fare so well.

Apparently, as they sat in those little desks that all ran together in neat little rows, you know, the ones with the ink bottles placed in the right-hand corner, obviously waiting to be used by perfect little right handed people, they were told being left handed was not a good thing; not a good thing at all.

In fact, they were told in no uncertain terms not to use that hand. I’m thinking those were the days when a student getting his or her knuckles wrapped with a yardstick or a ruler was totally acceptable. I’m sure that happened more often than not.

It makes me flinch, just thinking of it.

But that’s the way it was back then, apparently. Writing with your left hand was just not right, I guess.

It seems weird to me, but then, what do I know? Perhaps there was some sort of logical reason behind this thinking that has yet to be discovered.

Anyway, now we have moved on past the days when being left handed was punishable by certain acts of verbal and physical abuse.

Now we are on to modern classrooms! Classrooms full of left and right handed kids!

I know that, for sure, as one of my grandsons is left handed just like me. One of my granddaughters does lots of stuff with her left hand as well, just like her dad.

And that pleases me to no end.

Unfortunately, I have not yet come to the conclusion of this little story.

One of my very dear granddaughters, the one that does lots of left handed stuff, as a matter of fact, has moved away, not that far, but far enough to mean dropping in for a visit is not really a viable option.

And, so I decided, in my grandmotherly wisdom, that I would write her letters, lovely letters on beautiful writing paper, telling her little tidbits of family gossip and, mostly, letting her know how much she is loved and missed.

I loved my idea.

First, I had to purchase stationery which proved to be much more difficult than I thought. Apparently, nobody buys writing paper anymore.

Nobody writes letters.

Finally, I found some lovely printer paper that I determined would easily double as writing paper.

And, so it began.

Weekly letters from grandma.

But, now I have learned something new, something surprising and I must admit, something a little bit shocking.

Students, today, can write with whatever hand they want to. There is only one drawback.

They don’t know how.

They also don’t know how to read handwriting.

To say the least, I was surprised.

It doesn’t make sense to me. It just doesn’t make sense.

After all, what is a child to do when she receives a lovely letter from her grandma, a letter that she could tuck away somewhere and tie with a blue ribbon. A letter that she could stumble across years later and read with a gentle smile tugging at her lips as she remembers.

It’s perplexing, but apparently it’s progress.

Or is it?

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