Life SkillsPosted: April 12, 2011
Since my tumble down the stairs resulting in two injured ankles, I have learned many things – how to use crutches, how to go up and down stairs on crutches, the best way of calling a cab and the best sort of socks to wear when you have to wear them under splints 24/7 for SIX weeks – only three to go!
how to make a cup of coffee (very important for his mother’s survival)
how to make a toasted sandwich (necessary for his survival)
how to change the shelves in the oven and turn it on
which things I need on my trolley when I go from place to place
He has also walked to the local chemist by himself when I was stranded at home and really needed prickly heat powder to put on under the aforementioned socks. As the days go on he is using his school diary to keep track of the pick-up arrangements for each afternoon which is very useful given that the arrangements are different every single day!
I wish I could say something similar for Daniel but he’s just not into trying new things without a lot of help. His main interest in my injuries is the fact that I have much more time than usual for reading stories to him and listening to him read to me. So he is learning in a more indirect way from what has happened. To be fair, he has filled a few water bottles for me and he quite enjoys getting me a Berocca each morning.
All of this has really made me think about the times at which we begin to teach life skills to our children. I think about it more, when I’m stranded somewhere at home needing something done and I wonder whether I can ask one of the boys to do it. Will they be able? Will they be willing? I’ve got a long mental list of things they do know how to do already but I’ve been thinking about how to move them on and some more things I could teach them.
Given that Eric is 10, I’d like to teach him to do simple ironing, start a load of washing choosing water level and temperature, do some vacuuming and where to access the electricity box and water in an emergency. For Daniel my ambitions include stacking dishwasher, hanging out small washing on clothes airer, folding things and taking simple phone messages. That’s just off the top of my head and I’m sure there are many more things.
I’d like my boys to get into very familiar routines for mornings, after school and evenings so that the jobs we wanted them to do and homework requirements etc were all just happening instead of coaxed out of them step by step each day. That means of course that I need to have better routines for myself and I do recognise that. I’d like them to develop their problem solving skills so they can see that there is often more than one solution to something that is bothering or perplexing them. I’d like to help them develop their emotional resilience while also leaving them secure in the knowledge that it is ok for a boy to cry.
Eric and I are going to a funeral on Thursday and it will be his first one. His teacher’s mum passed away last week. Other students from his class are likely to attend with their parents so he is feeling some safety in numbers. A friend and I had a conversation with Eric and her daughter this afternoon about the sorts of things that happen at a funeral and why they are important. We talked about what it means to the family left behind to see that their community supports them. Both children now have some concept of what they will see, hear and perhaps feel. Dh and I decided that it was important for him to attend a funeral now for someone he didn’t know well because there will come a time when he has to attend a funeral for someone he does know well. When that time comes it may be a bit less overwhelming because he knows the sorts of things that will happen.
Now is the time for us to be mindful of the learning opportunities that are out there in everyday life for our children and to make the most of them even if it does take longer to get things done and they may not be done as well as we would have done them.
You may have noticed that I didn’t put on Eric’s list that he knew how to make toast with honey. To explain I give you (as accurately as I can remember) our conversation on the Sunday morning before last.
“I’m going to make you a coffee Mum. Would you like something for breakfast?”
I take frantic mental inventory – what can he make and bring into bedroom without spilling it? I think that rules out cereal so I settle on toast with jam. He disappears.
“There’s no jam anywhere Mum. Can I put something else on?”
“Um, yes. How about some honey?”
At this point the kettle stopped boiling ages ago, he’s been to the fridge several times but no smoke alarms have gone off. Then he appears again.
“I’ve sort of made a mistake.”
“I sort of put the margarine and honey on but I forgot to put the bread in the toaster. Should I put it in now?”
“Um, no, that will be fine, you can just bring it in to me the way it is.”
As it turned out, he probably could have put the bread in the toaster quite easily because he eventually appeared with barely lukewarm coffee and two slices of stale bread with a tiny smear of margarine down the centre of each and about 1 teaspoon of honey altogether between two pieces.
“Thank-you gorgeous, it was so nice of you to make me some breakfast!”
“That’s ok Mum, nothing to it” and he struts away, chest out feeling very proud of himself.
We might still be learning but I’ve got very good material to work with!