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Ammi Midstokke: The resiliency of our children

Ammi Midstokke is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review writing about living off the grid. (The Spokesman-Review / SR)
Ammi Midstokke is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review writing about living off the grid. (The Spokesman-Review / SR)
By Ammi Midstokke For The Spokesman-Review

I take it all back.

All that optimistic hooh-hah about connecting with family, reading books more, really developing my watercolor skills. Everything was going great until we ran out of the good food. My journal entries are a step away from just being a pocket knife scratch on a wall.

Day 14, 2 p.m.

We have eaten all our chocolate and popsicles. The children have refused to brush their teeth for a week. They are circling the kitchen and making irrational demands. Charlie is sure he saw one carrying a conch shell.

There were a few days in there when we tried to reign them in with our new “We’re Schooling At Home!” energy, as if teaching a gaggle of children basic math is more like a hobby than an actual job. If you have ever doubted the leadership and crisis management skills of the professionals who herd our children from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, let me clarify: These folks should be in charge of missile crises, wayward dictators and petulant presidents.

Also, they should be in charge or our children, because I lost control of mine on about Day 4. Last time I checked, she was trying to buy an army tank with Bitcoin on Craigslist and looking for hot pink combat boots to match her leather miniskirt.

“Did you do your algebra?”

“Algebra will not save you from the zombie apocalypse, Mom.”

“No, but it might save you from the mommy apocalypse.”

I’m not scaring her. She knows that when I run out of coffee beans, I’m just going to wilt into a drooling, mumbling pile of useless desperation.

Day 12, 6 a.m.

I think the kids might be getting up at night to sabotage my coffee supply. I found charred beans in the fireplace and at least two popsicle sticks. Also, I can’t find my credit card and someone called to see if a 40-foot trailer can make it up our driveway. Strange times.

My vision was much more like when there was a long winter in “Little House on the Prairie” and everyone sat around burning their last candle and making beautiful hand-stitched sleeping gowns. I can tell you something, that Laura Ingalls Wilder would have been telling a different story if she had to spend 14 hours a day negotiating screen time.

Day 6, 9 a.m.

Success! The kids have agreed to complete one math problem after every hour of Minecraft. I don’t know why teachers are so critical of video games. They got through 10 problems today!

We’ve taken to spending our time discussing contingency plans that mostly involve Charlie and me barricading ourselves in our bedroom with a box of flares until the children get drunk enough on the last of the chocolate syrup that we can escape during their postbinge nap. We’ve buried a gallon of it in the yard for when it’s time. Instead of sewing, I’ve been cutting my sheets into strips to braid ropes for our escape. If I see any Barbie heads on forks, I’ll know it’s time.

Day 1, 4 p.m.

We made a schedule so we can keep the kids up to date on their schoolwork. I’m so grateful for this family time together. It’s such a gift to be able to see how resilient and adaptable the children are.

Ammi Midstokke can be contacted at

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