Friday, September 28, 2007

Get a grip

Earlier this week I was flipping through a book on Medieval manuscripts when I came across these images from the Lindisfarne Gospels. What caught my eye was the way Matthew and Luke were both holding their quills. With two fingers on top!

This was quite an epiphany for me, because I have always held my pencil the same way, which according to every teacher I ever had in elementary school, is the wrong way to hold a pencil. Mrs. Robins (my Kindergarten teacher who, I swear, also masking-taped misbehaving students to their chairs. We lived in mortal fear) even rapped my knuckles with her reading glasses whenever she caught me sliding back into “bad habits.” My teachers barked at me and held the freaky callous forming on my fourth finger up for ridicule before the other children. I took to scooping my left arm around my writing hand and hunching over so they wouldn’t see me giving in to my perverse addiction—I couldn’t have felt more shame if I had been sneaking hits on a cigarette with the lunch ladies behind the dumpster.

If only I had the Lindisfarne evidence 30 years ago, I could have proven that I was not, in fact, weak willed or digitally impaired. I was instead following in the footsteps, um fingersteps, of the great Evangelists themselves.

What’s really ironic is that now Gabie holds his pencils and pens with three fingers on top and I find myself correcting him all the time. He knows the “school way” to hold things and if I tell him to, he’ll quickly shift to one finger . . . which lasts right up until he picks up a new color. I think I’ve corrected him a thousand times (and I know his pre-school teacher did too and now his Kindergarten teacher must be doing the same). Still he persists and I wonder if it’s worth the battle. I say I’m just trying to help train him early to protect him from what I went through. But maybe I’m more Establishment than I’d like to think. Am I truly willing to perpetuate the myth that there is one God-given way to grip a writing utensil? Who cares? Honestly as long as he is writing something worthwhile, he should be able to hold the dang thing with his toes for all it matters.

And here’s what Gabie wrote (with three fingers on top) today: TOMOM FRMU GABRIEL MOM I LUF UTO FOREFR AND WIL FOR EFR NOMATRWAT!

Not exactly scripture, but holy writ as far as I’m concerned.


Jenna said...

This was awesome! I used to write with two fingers on top too, but had to learn the "right" way to please my teachers. You have such an astute eye to catch this.

BTW, are you on cre8buzz? If not, you should be.

~*Country Dawn*~ said...

Amen, sistah!

bubandpie said...

My middle-finger has never recovered from the abuse I put it through before I switched to typing 90% of what I write. The one-finger-on-top method does not protect you from the unsightly bump and detached cuticles!

Sandra Tayler said...

I'm a fellow "two fingers on top" writer. I never got any flak for it in school. I lived in California where everything is liberal including pencil-holding policies.

edj said...

I LOVE the lindesfarne gospels! Thanks for an amusing post.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

When something that lovely is written why question the way the pencil was held?

mindyluwho said...

Now I'm sitting here trying to hold an imaginery pencil to see how I grip it! I think I only have one finger on top because my index finger has the bump and I recall it getting sore when I write.

I love Gabie's holy writ!

Goslyn said...

Awwww. Love that Gabie.