Ever since the Liberian kids have come home, it has become more and more apparent that the teaching of 'life skills' is SO very important. There are so many things our biological kids learn from us that you wouldn't even realize. As toddlers, our bio kids learn from watching us and from constant guidance. When our Liberian kids arrived, they didn't have a fraction of that 'basic' knowledge. A lot was due to the fact that their culture is extremely different and they didn't live every day with running water, electricity, etc. The most basic things to us proved to be a major hurdle for them. So, for our older kids who may only have just a few years here with us before going out on their own- the learning of basic life skills needs to happen very quickly.
We've been working a lot in every area with the Liberian kids (and our oldest, bio daughter) regarding every day living responsibilities. In Liberia, the older kids were in charge of washing their own clothes (as they are here), but that responsibility looks very different here vs. there. In Liberia, they washed their clothes in a bucket of water with some powdered soap added. They washed, rinsed and rang out their clothes by hand and then laid them out on the dirt to dry in the African sun. They kept all their clothes inside-out during washing to keep the right-side clean and free from the red colored dirt. Once the clothes were dry, they shook free the dirt and put them into their duffle bags. Each child had a bag in order to keep their belongings and clothes.
We've mostly conquered the washing machine now, with the exception of the 'load size' feature. Since we only use cold water to wash now, I figure that's minor and we'll come back to that concept sometime in the future. The four knobs on the washer seem to be very confusing to them...we used the dryer last winter when they first came home but due to high electric bills, everyone is hanging clothes outside now.
The biggest thing that the older kids could NOT learn was the can opener. We've been teaching and re-teaching them how to use a can opener over the last year and they just could not get it. Well, last night both the girls mastered the art of using the can opener- out of the blue! Hubby and I danced around the kitchen as if we were given the best gift ever! They were so very pleased that they could open a can...they wanted to open everything in the cupboard! One of our girls told us awhile back that when living on her own, she would never eat anything out of a can (because she couldn't figure out how to open one). So last night, Hubby and I told her, "There, now you can survive when you live on your own- even if you eat something out of a can!" hehe
It's the little things....