‘Left’ Her Amazed

Berkshire, England, UK | Learning | July 20, 2017

(I work weekends at a falconry center and on this occasion I’m doing a birthday party for a group of six year olds. Because of their age most of their parents have stayed to watch and supervise. We’ve just finished going over the health and safety and I’m handing out the protective falconry gloves for them to wear. Note that in traditional falconry the glove is always worn on your left hand, irrespective of whether you are right- or left-handed.)

Me: “Okay, guys. Remember that the glove goes on your left hand. If you can’t remember which is left hold your hands in front of you and the hand where the thumb and first finger make an ‘L’ is the left one.” *turns my back to them and demonstrates*

Parent #1: *looks at me like I’ve just told her the meaning of life, the universe, and everything* “Oh, my god! I’ve never realised that. Look, [Child], your left hand makes an ‘L’ with your thumb and finger! Isn’t that cool!”

Child: “I know, mum. We learnt that at school weeks ago.”

Parent #1: “Look, [Parent #2], the finger and thumb on your left hand make an ‘L’. ‘L’ for left. Isn’t that so useful!”

Parent #2: “Umm… I guess. We’ve known that for a while now.” *edges away*

(Over the course of the party the parent went on to tell at least three more people about it and when her partner arrived to collect them at the end she walked out the gate still going on about the ‘amazing’ new trick she’d learnt. I admit it’s a useful trick to help children (and adults apparently) learn left from right but I didn’t know it was that amazing!)

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  • Ebony

    I actually never noticed it myself X_x I have a birthmark on my right pinky that I’ve always used to tell which was which

    • Benny

      Scar on my left index finger is how I always figured it out!

      • Rebecca Jones

        Scar near my right index finger (as mentioned above) 😛

    • jay-lee-beanz

      I literally had to look at my left hand during the story, never realised or learned this either. While I didn’t feel the need to tell my entire family about it, I was probably just as amazed as this woman. Boy, this trick could’ve been so useful, like, twenty years ago. C’=

    • Souless night

      I used logic… might’ve helped that my left thumbs double jointed

      • Leah

        there’s no ‘logic’ to right and left, they’re just labels. You just remembered.

  • LordOfMantas

    It’s lost a bit of its luster over the years, but I remember this trick blew my mind when I was 5.

    • MadHighlander

      That trick blew my mind just now.

  • MariaTeresa

    Don’t kids learn left from right before they learn the alphabet? (Obviously I don’t know much about kids.)

    • Huck Perry

      yes, but some kids (and some adults too) still don’t remember exactly where is right and left, sometimes they get them mixed up

      • arglebargle

        Wait! Is that your left or my left?

        • Katrin Schirmer

          that reminds me of one of my friends, who would often mix clockwise and counterclockwise up. we started asking her if she meant clockwise or amanda-clockwise.

    • Leah

      Not really. A lot of little kids have difficulty remembering right from left. A lot of kids know the alphabet – or at least some of it – by the time they’re 3 or 4. I remember being taught this trick in preschool (4-5 years old) and I thought it was wonderful. I probably couldn’t write the entire alphabet at that age, but I would have been able to identify most letters. Plus I could definitely write my name, which starts with L.

    • Laren Dowling

      Nope. My son is nearly 3. He knows the alphabet, he can count to 20. He’s still not getting the whole left-right thing most of the time. And this is perfectly normal, according to his pediatrician (and my mother, who raised a passel of her own kids, in addition to mothering every one of our friends).
      It’s why young kids have trouble getting their shoes on the right feet.

    • Catherine Newell

      One of my maths teachers (who was generally very clever) said that she put a rubber band around one of her wrists before doing her driving test, because even at age 17 she couldn’t remember her left and right.

      It seems to be one of those things that some people “get” when they’re about 3 and others never seem to grasp.

  • Frédéric Purenne

    People need tricks to remember left and right? O_o

    • Max

      Some mental disabilities (e.g. dyspraxia) can make it quite difficult to get your head around, so yeah.

    • Kitty

      Would’ve helped me as a kid, I had this issue that I thought west = right and east = left. I know the difference now, of course, but it still stumps me at times.

      • Rebecca Jones

        I remembered the cardinal directions by remembering that with north oriented up west and east spell “we.” As long as I don’t forget and think it spells “ew” then all is golden. I’m terrible with directions of all sorts. (I’m *okay* with landmark based directions, which use left and right in reference to various landmarks. I forget the technical term for them. But still get lost easily.)

      • SS

        I always pictured a rough outline of the US map. “Out west” was where the cowboys were, and I knew that was out in the California area.

        • Laren Dowling

          Not so much California. Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, etc.

          • SS

            I was a kid. The California gold rush was usually the theme in the TV cowboy westerns so that was my quick east/west reference point and was easiest for a quick mental image.

    • Cathrope

      In the American revolution, they would put straw on one foot and hay in the other, for the volunteers didn’t know their left from their right.

  • Jackie Fauxe

    It’s interesting how different the falconry scene is between the UK and the US. I don’t know enough to know whose rules are better for the birds, but then end result of the differences is that the UK has so many more falconry centers and events than the US does (although I think some of the US rules vary by state).

  • Rebecca Jones

    As a kid I never knew which direction my palms were supposed to face when doing this, which made it useless. *Now* I now that it’s obviously “the more comfortable way” but I also usually know my right from my left. And if I forget I can use the trick I used as a child, which is that my right hand has a scar under the index finger’s top knuckle.

    • Katherine

      Yeah, my sister never got the hang of left and right (she’s 30) and can’t use this trick for the same reason. Usually she either goes by her watch, or has to mime holding a pen. Either way it’s not easy for her

  • Cassie Drake

    In case French people want to be amazed:

    If you take your middle, ring and pinky fingers and form circles with your thumb, leaving your index fingers sticking up, your hands make b’s and d’s. Votre main droit fait un “d”.

    • Leah

      what’s that got to do with being french?

      Edit: Ah, I understand, d for droit. I was sitting here thinking, ‘the right hand makes a d for anyone regardless of what language they speak!’

  • TheWonderRabbit

    I’m not great at directions, but I have my own method for remembering.
    Right wrist has the scar, left the freckle.

    (is this my left hand?) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1c47468f4201c321214fc5c342386514f29e1d740dad636ef1dceed78dd7665a.jpg

    • Souless night

      nope it’s your right, it’s physically impossible for your left hand to point like that

      • Noinipo

        Unless the picture was taken through a mirror

    • Rebecca Jones

      It’s not your hand at all

    • Mad Hatter

      Careful … someone could copy your fingerprints and steal your identity.

  • Matt Westwood

    I found out not long ago that a falconer is actually a valued professional more than at just showing his birds off at parties. They send them out round the grounds where our offices are, to keep the population of pigeons down.

    The falconer in the story is local to me — I may have met the very subject of the story. But if it is, then every time I’ve seen him working, he’s lost one of his birds. Fortunately he’s found them again, but it can be distressing.

    • They’re also pretty commonplace at airports for the same reason

      Although they’re being phased out somewhat with these things https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d03fb08c38c8980d8ec891701ff4f18609f8cecc1c6afb19231a264006a1eb9c.jpg

      • Ronald M Bisnett

        If that doesn’t have laser eyes, I fail to see the value it provides over real falcons.

        Unless laser eyes is planned for the next model, then fine.

        • Mad Hatter

          Or perhaps tiny guided pigeon missiles?

      • Siren

        (Downvote, solely because it makes me sad they’re getting
        rid of falconers)

        • An Oni Mouse

          Logically, that drone’s is probably way more expensive than a bird, and likely a solution to a problem that’s pretty much exclusive to airports. Specifically, a drone remote-controlled from the tower is less likely to fly in the path of a landing jumbo jet.

    • Souless night

      That would suck, it’s like losing family to people. One losing their pet, K-9 unit partner, or falconers falcon etc, isn’t an easy thing to come back from.

    • Dawn

      The only time I’ve been to the UK, there was a falconer in Trafalgar Square sending his bird on laps as pigeon prevention. The bit that interested me most was that he said he was using an US-imported Cooper’s Hawk, instead of a more local species.

      Didn’t get to ask why, though. Lots of people wanted photos.

  • Fenn

    I still confuse left and right it never clicked for me until around 4th grade

  • Vyrmis

    You can also make an L with your right hand. You hold it up to your forehead and use it to gesture to certain people. Parent #1, say.

    • This simple trick brought to you by smash mouth

      • MadHighlander

        [Parent #1] was looking kind of dumb
        with her finger and her thumb
        in the shape
        of an L
        on her fore-head

  • Marisa

    I wonder if the parent speaks English as a second language, and such a trick doesn’t work in her native language

  • Pogla

    Wait till she hears the second line of Smashmouth’s All Star. She is going to lose her sh*t

    • Leah

      though in that case they are probably using the right hand to look like an L to observers 😛

  • Luke Green

    The only person I’ve ever heard about this from is my mother. It must not be common in some parts of the country.

    Incidentally I use it here in Japan when teaching the lesson on giving directions.

  • Novelista

    I’d be amazed to hold a falcon and the parent? Well, different priorities for different people, I guess. (*chuckle*)

  • LuckDragon

    My favorite hand trick is the 9 times tables. If you hold your hands in front of you and put down the finger that corresponds with the number you are timing 9 by, it creates the answer with your fingers. 9×3, put down the third finger and you have two fingers up to the left of it, and seven up to the right, making 27 your answer.

    • Kirishima Touka

      So… you been watching Prison Break?

      • Gabby Signs

        I love that show! I learned that trick prior though

      • LuckDragon

        No, never seen it. My sister taught me when i was learning multiplication.

  • Daniel Gamez

    The title would have been better if the apostrophes weren’t there to draw attention to the joke. It works better as a subtle joke.

  • LordViking

    The one that always stuck with me, though it is more of a joke than an actual trick: Left is where the thumb is on the right.

    • MikeM_inMD

      And right is where the thumb is on the left. So, how does this help?

      • Rebecca Jones

        If it amuses you or you can otherwise remember then it helps. It’s like my trick for nonfiction (from white i was a kid.). Non makes me think it isn’t true but it is.

      • Marcel

        you missed the joke part of the comment?

        • MikeM_inMD

          “Mostly”, therefore not totally,

  • Caroline Levén

    That’s so sweet.

  • Platypusburger

    I kind of want to know more about what it’s like to teach small children about falconry.

  • Noinipo

    I was in high school when I learned the knuckle trick for how many days are in a month.

  • Kirishima Touka

    I was early 20s before someone pointed this out to me. I was impressed, but not as mind-blown as this parent.

    (For the curious; never had issues with right and left)

  • Well, honestly, I never heard of this way of remembering which hand is your left until fairly recently. Was not taught it as a child in the US and it doesn’t work in Norwegian. I think it’s cool, too.

  • AsaeAmpan

    Ma’am… you’re an adult, I suggest you find your kindergarten teacher to let them know that you haven’t remembered anything they taught you as the left hand makes an L trick is taught way back then.

    • Marcel

      Not to everybody. To be surprised that people do not know something that you have known most of your life is the worst arrogance in the world, because there are things thta others have known almost all their life and consider common knowledge that you do not know.
      Also, if this person had no trouble with left and right in kindergarten there was no reason to learn tricks.

  • I Like Turtles

    I’m sure that parent is otherwise an uncompromising tactical mastermind feared by all, yet unable to pay parking tickets or know left from right without mouthing the pledge of allegiance.

  • LittleMissCloud

    This person would be mind blown by lefty loosey righty tighty unless that doesn’t work in the UK.

  • Luke Green

    I’m this age, and I hadn’t known that.

  • Chris

    Maybe English wasn’t her first language? I know I never paid attention to this, since the word for “left” in my language doesn’t even have an L in it.

  • Renee Chenevert

    I was taught this as a child, but it never helped me. I am mildly dyslexic, so they both looked like Ls to me.