Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Not So Flawless Plan

My parents got home yesterday, after being away for about 6 weeks.
Today I've got a guest blog post written by my dad... in honor of them being back on Canadian soil.
Today, Peter is sharing a story from my childhood, so without further adieu..
My comments in dad's post are in this color.

All kids have some word or skill that simply eludes them.
For my sister or I (can't remember who), it was the word "Montreal" … it used to come out "UntreeMall."
For a friend of mine, he couldn't snap his fingers.

For Faith, it was knowing her left from her right (she got that from her Mom - Deb still can't tell the difference).
We worked with Faith for months on this, but to no avail … left and right were just a jumbled concept in her head that never found a place to root.
Until she went to school.

When Faith entered Grade Primary I was like most fathers, wondering whether she would fall victim to the emotional trauma that had besieged her mother. I couldn't wait to hear how she made out and was grateful to hear stories about how much fun she had with the other kids and how great her teacher was. But I was completely unprepared for what followed; she had learned something.
Not just anything … but something of staggering significance. She learned how to tell her left from her right.
Of course I was skeptical because Debbie and I had worked tirelessly for months to do, what some stranger had supposedly done in one day of diluted time.
FYI - student:teacher ratios then were about 30:1.

"Really?" I challenged. "Show me."
"It's like this, Daddy. You hold up your hands like this."

(I've asked Faith to take a photo of her 24-year old hands demonstrating the pose … pretend you are looking at 5-year old hands).

Please excuse the most ridiculous picture... my dad "voluntold" me to do this.

"The hand that makes the letter "L" is the left … "L" for left."

This was brilliant. No, it was genius. I couldn't help but notice the gleam in my wife's eye. Simply because she now found, for herself, an absolutely flawless technique to help her escape those embarrassing moments when she betrayed her Faith-like ignorance of this essential life skill.
Whoa dad, that was the longest sentence, ever. I refused to re-write it, haha.

For the rest of that evening, I would ask Faith "show me left and right" to which she would robotically flip up her hands into position and nod at the letter "L" and then raise her left hand declaring, "This is left." We were so proud.
Deb was quietly excited for herself.
I absolutely love how much you keep calling out mom. I'm sure you're winning brownie points for this, good job.

What I haven't told you is that we had done a lot of reading on the subject and apparently this is a not-so-rare challenge out there. Thousands of people struggle with knowing their left from their right. And hundreds of authors have sought the holy grail of handedness … a foolproof way of establishing orientation.
As a physicist, I can appreciate the importance of understanding things like directional or rotational orientation.
There are basic laws which appeal to knowing right from left, such as the right-hand screw rule (look it up if you are interested). In weather we use terms like "cyclonic" to describe rotation but have an anchoring standard to resort to for explanation … counter-clockwise (I pity the coming generations who will never see an analog clock).
But for right and left there is no anchor … there is no standard reference to help us. Or so I thought, until now.
Faith's teacher was simply a genius … this was flawless.

The family had a good night sleep. Upon waking the next morning, I couldn't wait for Faith to wake up and take a pop-quiz to ensure that she retained her newfound knowledge (how could she not). Dad, would you have still loved me if I hadn't remembered? (just kidding)
The moment she emerged from her bedroom I called her to me, with proud chest, outstretched arms and an ear-to-ear smile, I said "show me your left."
In Pavlovian response, her hands flipped up into position as she declared "The hand that makes the letter "L" is the left … "L" is for left."

Photo on 2013-05-20 at 20.53
Too bad I was too dumb to remember how to hold my hands properly.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Oh dad, thanks for this. Don't worry, I still love you.


Kristin said...

Truth....I still use my hands a lot of the time to figure out my right from my left. haha.

Cute story.


Stephanie said...

Love this post! The only way I can remember is that I write with my right hand, so the other is left...lol.

On a similar note, I should also mention that the only way I can remember the 7 continents is thanks to a song from Sesame Street!

Rachel said...

Awww, I love that your dad guest posts on your blog. It makes me miss my family. :'(

Kay said...

Cute post! Love your blog. :)
Follow me and I'll follow you. <3