Over these past two years, we have had plenty of time to sit and talk. As the girls' vocabulary and communication skills grow, our conversations obviously improve.
The Funny stuff they believed before coming:
All Americans are millionaires. AJ once asked for a diamond tennis bracelet for Christmas. When I showed her how much it cost, she said, "That's not a lot of money". I asked how much is a lot of money then..."A million dollars". I about fainted. LJ even asked for a cell-phone before she could even put together two decent sentences. We talked awhile and it was then that we found out that Ethiopians (especially children) believe that all Americans were filthy rich, with money just falling like manna from Heaven.
Americans only wear their clothes one time after buying them. You'd think that too if you paid attention to what is shown on TV in everyday "regular life".
They wouldn't need to learn English or eat American food. They were told that there were people from all parts of the world here and we understand lots of different languages and that there was available all kinds of food whenever we wanted it. Well, the first part is right.
All of America looks like uptown NYC. They were sort of let down when we moved them to Ft. Mill SC. and still a little more when we moved out here to the OBX.
Because they kids took care of themselves for a couple of years before we adopted them, they were fairly independent. It took them a little getting used to (and sometimes still does) asking for permission to come and go or to even announce that they were going. They would just walk out the door unannounced and head off down the street exploring. LJ and AJ seemed to share the mother role, but AJ was more a caregiver for JJ than LJ was. I think because their ages were closer. When they got here JJ always deferred to AJ for everything.
Because their way of life was so different from ours it was difficult to set them immediately to taking on any certain tasks. We also wanted them to decompress from being little adults and just be kids, having fun. Not that kids shouldn't have responsibilities, but they had too many. But the girls were very eager to jump in and help with tasks that they were familiar with. They would quickly reach to help us carry items when we were shopping. They'd grab a broom to sweep, or clear the table after dinner.
Somethings that they miss about Ethiopia:
They of course missed their friends and extended family for quite awhile. Apparently LJ was quite the social butterfly in her school and neighborhood.
The food. Though it seemed rather monotonous to me; it doesn't take a mental heavyweight to see that they missed the familiar more than actual food. Their meals consisted mostly of enjera (a flat moist, pancake type bread that goes with any and all meals) and wat (a thick meat and vegetable stew).
Traditions. Funerals were a very large part of their lives, for obvious reasons. All the neighbors and families came to the funerals and those that had any money at all would contribute to the family (like a love offering). My girls described how every house in their neighborhood had at least one person who had died in recent memory. The same for weddings (all the neighbors, families came and contributed to the family). Birthdays were not a big thing, hence why most don't know how old they actually are or even when their birthdays are.
An interesting thing. Ever so often the girls will experience a scent that will remind them of home and De ja vu! The memories come flooding in. It's really neat.
Another interesting thing. There were some cultural commonalities between my childhood and theirs. The most vivid was they told of their mother sitting them between her knees as she combed their hair. They would get a good smack up side the head with a comb if they fidgeted too much. I remembered my mom and sisters on Saturday nights. Wash, comb, smack! LOL