There’s a fair bit of detail in Chapter 1 of my blog (What Planet Are You From?)about my childhood, but one topic I didn’t touch on was how I ‘discovered’ I was ambidextrous.

It all starts with my mother (which rather goes without saying, but in this particular context I mean that my mother is a left-handed identical twin with a right-handed sister, sometimes known as mirror twins).

My mother is undeniably left-handed and as is often the case, was not encouraged during her childhood to be so. When I was an infant, my mother noted that I first reached out with my left hand and took my first step with my left foot. Armed with this information, she made it her mission to encourage me to be left-handed and overcome the obstacles she’d encountered.

When I got to school, I learned to write with my left hand and cut paper with left-handed scissors. (My poor teachers had to search through the school supplies for the lonely pair of green-handled, left-handed safety scissors so I could cut out my paper snowflakes and such.) But at home, there were no left-handed scissors except the ‘good’ ones my mother used. I had to have permission and supervision if I were to use those. No, far more appealing was learning to use ‘normal’ scissors and avoid the interview process necessary to ensure responsible use of the ‘good’ scissors.

And that’s where it started. I dabbled in the right-handed world by using any of the multiple pairs of scissors that the rest of my family used.

Now, throwing a ball is one of the first things little boys learn and it was no different for me. Since my mother had already determined I was left-handed, I was encouraged to throw with my left hand. I can imagine my father sitting in front of me tossing a ball. If I mirrored what he did, I’d be throwing with my left and catching with my right. What is interesting is that my family also played Frisbee, but my mother was not the most proficient at this skill so she left the teaching of that exclusively to my dad. Now, you can’t really stand close together and play Frisbee so he stood behind me and guided my motions. The result is that I throw a ball left-handed, but a Frisbee right-handed (and I was pretty good at both).

The next event was being forced to play the guitar ‘right-handed’, but I’ve already been over that (see Chapter 1, What Planet Are You From?). A few years later (I think it was late summer 1978), I was in right field during baseball practice and misjudged a tailing fly ball. The result was a broken left pinky and a splint that immobilized my left wrist for six weeks just as school started. This made it sufficiently awkward to write that I practiced writing with my other hand. I was fascinated with the novelty of this skill and to this day, the hand I write with is really about which hand is closer to the pen.

Then I took up the drums in my early thirties. As I mentioned earlier, I got to play with the instruments of the bands I hung out with in my teens, but when I had the means to buy my own drumkit, I learned something I didn’t know before: Now, I can keep time on any drumkit, but I soon realized that I could not force myself to lead with the right hand. Frustrated at my lack of improvement over several months, I finally turned the kit around and found it much easier.

So, there you have it. As far as I can determine, my awkwardness and confusion isn’t social, it’s organic.

In fact, to give you some sense of what it’s like in my brain; if I am in a neutral position with my hands at my sides and you hold out a pen for me to sign something, I hesitate until I can remember which hand to reach out with (I only sign with the left). This probably has something to do with why I have never been able to tell left from right without thinking about it.

Since I’m a geek, I’ve created the following table as a summary. It’s split right down the middle 😉














Right (right eye dominant)




Signs with left
Lectures (blackboard/whiteboard) with right (it slows me down, so the students can keep up)