Survival Skills: Homeschool Edition

Well, it’s official. The governor said it on TV and everything. It’s not just a bad dream. It’s not a hilarious joke. It’s not a social experiment gone terribly awry.

This is our reality now. The kids are not going back to school this year. I’ll give you a moment to sob, or curse, or bang your head against the hardest thing nearby. (brief pause) Now pull it together.

APOCALYPSE Young Uns

It’s basically the apocalypse, and no one is going to teach these young’uns if we don’t. The beautiful, wonderful, magical teachers that just a short time ago were sweetly wiping our kids’ noses and helping them with their jackets–without screaming obscenities–and singing fun songs with them as many times as they wanted…they are gone now.

We didn’t appreciate them enough, and now we’ve lost them. It’s on us, now, parents. Forget reading, writing and arithmetic. There’s no time for those silly luxuries. I’m strictly going for life skills here. I’m talking survival. I’m talking some downright Hunger Games shit.

Foraging

So, sit back, and relax (for the last time ever) while I outline my new course, “Surviving and Thriving During a Pandemic: Homeschool Edition.” To start, my husband and I took our five year old out back and discussed finding his own food with him. Now, typically, he eats Cheez-Its and not much else, and insists on having them served to him in his orange bowl.

Not any orange bowl, mind you — his orange bowl. (“I want my orange Cheez-Its in my orange bowl, Mommy, NOW!”) But times are hard. I can’t just mosey on over to Kroger for crispy, pumpkin-colored snacks.

We don’t have any berries, but we do have some honeysuckle growing along the fence. That would help, but we knew he’d eventually need more sustenance. We’ve noticed the dogs really like to gnaw on the pine cones, so we told him those were probably safe. Just don’t try to eat a whole one at once…chewing is important.

We considered a lesson on hunting skills, but we don’t let him hold kid-safe scissors, so weapons are out of the question. Anything involving being quiet is really not his forte.

Sheltering

Next, we explained the necessity for shelter. He has a clubhouse in the backyard that could work, but honestly, what self-respecting five year old doesn’t need to know how to build their own thatch hut from mud, twigs and pine straw?

We gotta keep him competitive in this post-Corona world.

We all gathered sticks, but the dogs kept stealing them and running off. Finally, he found a tarp wadded up on the porch that was filthy and full of spiders. We agreed that could work in a pinch.

Although our street is a perfectly neighborly place, we do have a tiny stretch of woods behind our house, between us and the next street over, so it was time to teach him about possible threats to his safety lurking in the wild. He already knows not to take Cheez-Its from strangers, but all he’s learned about wildlife is what he’s seen on Animal Planet’s “Too Cute” and pictures in his National Geographic books.

We have three dogs that are, for all practical purposes, spoiled and completely useless. They’ll bark and let you know something’s out there, but then it’s back to chewing foliage or stealing our socks from inside the house to bury them in the yard. They’re essentially no help at all for fighting off apex predators.

We have actually seen, with our own eyes, in our own backyard, such fearsome creatures as a rabbit, some squirrels, a few field mice, a woodpecker, and at least one feral cat. And by feral, I just mean it’s allowed outside sometimes. It belongs to our neighbors. And mostly avoids us because our dogs are assholes.

Fighting or Flighting

While playing with his cars in the dirt, our son was paying close attention to our survival information and crucial tips about his fight or flight options. I could tell he was really understanding it, when he looked up and said, “Mommy and Daddy, get me some more cars to go down the slide? And orange Cheez-Its in an orange bowl NOW, Mommy??”

Yep, our work here is done. He’s ready.

I know that eventually things will return to our “new normal,” and he’ll be back in the care of his amazing teachers who DESERVE A RAISE, by the way. He’ll return to learning the alphabet and counting and colors and the Pythagorean theorem (that’s what they learn in kindergarten, right?)–and all of these survival skills will be a distant memory.

But this mama will sleep better knowing we can send our son on “Naked and Afraid: Preschool.” Just someone, please, for the love of all things, make sure someone gives him his orange bowl with his orange Cheez-Its…or all bets are off.