I’ve been sitting here trying to write for 15 minutes. Since I first sat down, the sound of someone yelling, “Mom!” has ricocheted through my office door once every 23 seconds. The well-thought-out ideas for this column are now scrambled in my brain.
    Don’t get me wrong. I love my children, and I love being a mother. But, at this moment, I could really use less summoning and more quiet concentration.
    I would like to tell the kids to go outside – to find some chores to do or ride their bikes or work on their forts. But they’re doing their schoolwork.
    The thought I’ve had so many times since social distancing began pops into my head again: I am incredibly thankful that 90% of my work is done outside. I’m guessing my challenges pale in comparison to those parents who are trying to telework under the same roof as their children.
    About half of my summonses are the kids reporting the behavior of their siblings. It appears all of the rules from real school – worrying about oneself, being kind, being respectful, etc. – do not apply to school at home.
    The other half of the summonses are requests for help with schoolwork. I just left my computer to help Daphne with her end-of-the-year animal report about bats. Thank heavens that by the time you read this, our school year will be over. I know school at home is going well for some families, but ours is not one of them.
    Now, back to writing. I’m sitting in our front yard with my laptop, knowing that if I’m out of earshot, the kids will usually sort their squabbles out themselves.
    But now I see two cows riding out in the pasture, and I’m trying to figure out who’s in heat. A week ago, this column was going to be about empty pastures, because we still had not let the cows out. With the lack of rainfall this spring, the grass just isn’t growing like it should. I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed for enough rain to allow the pasture to keep up with the cows.
    Dang distractions. What I really need is a pair of blinders and a set of earplugs. I’m quite certain this is why cubicles were invented.
    Back to writing, again. What I intended this column to be about – prior to the mind addling – was all of the kids’ forts.
    A couple weeks into social distancing, Daphne got tired of spending endless hours in her bedroom doing schoolwork. Taking a break from videos and worksheets, she commenced building a fort in our living room. Using her gymnastics bar, the couch cushions, pillows, and blankets, she made herself a pretty snazzy indoor fort.
    Daphne’s fort reminded me of all the forts I made as a kid with my sisters and friends with the exact same couch cushions. I wonder if my father knew when he built these couches that they would support two generations of fort building.
    Daphne grumbles a bit when she has to deconstruct her fort on movie night, but each reconstruction has resulted in a better design. Her enthusiasm when showing off each new fort could be bottled and sold.
    But she’s not satisfied with simply better; she wants her fort to be bigger, too. She’s asked me twice now if I can order 15 more cushions in each of two sizes. Clearly, she’s grown up in an era of order and you shall receive.
    Even without extra cushions, Daphne’s fort has become a popular space. Don’t tell her, – she’s a little territorial – but I’ve caught Glen napping in her fort and Dan hiding in her fort messaging his friends.
    Indoor fort building quickly led to outdoor fort building. Dan and his band of boy cousins have had a rather elaborate fort in our grove for several years now. The boys’ fort has walls made of everything from woven branches to pallets to old gates. Basically, most of our scrap pile ends up out in the grove, repurposed as fort building material.
    Monika, Daphne, and their girl cousins have been talking about building their own forts in the woods for almost as long. Last week, Daphne finally started hers. I’ve watched from the barn and the kitchen as she’s hauled this and that from the yard to the woods. A couple times now I’ve seen her ask Glen for permission to use the ax, sling it over her shoulder like a lumberjack, and tromp off into her fort.
    The only pitfall of Daphne’s fort is its proximity to Dan’s. We do have several acres of woods, but Daphne picked the corner of the grove closest to the house. Dan’s fort is just an arrow’s shot beyond. I think Glen saw the potential trouble in the same light I did, so he devised a remedy. He made The Great Wall between their forts with a half dozen old wrapped square bales. Monika announced she would be the Wall Keeper and Supreme Judge to maintain boundaries and settle any disputes between the fort keepers.
    I’m thinking I might need to start building my own little fort in the woods – a place for the Fort Historian to secretly observe and document happenings.
    Until then, I’m hiding in Daphne’s blanket fort, finishing this column and the rest of my computer work.
    Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 100 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have three children – Dan, 11, Monika, 8, and Daphne, 5. Sadie also writes a blog at www.dairygoodlife.com. She can be reached at sadiefrericks@gmail.com.