Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox was one of my favorite stories when I was in fourth grade. I would wrap myself in a blanket and sit on a heating vent in my bedroom and read the book, ensconced and warm. Fox was a simpler story than the movie, and ended with the animals living in an underground compound with secret entry and exit tunnels into the farmers storehouses, while the farmers sat by the mouth of his uprooted tree, waiting with shotguns for Fox to emerge. It was the promise of family unity, harmony, and safety. (While I was writing this story, I popped over to Amazon and ordered the Roald Dahl box set for my kids.)
As an aside, my kids love it when the five of us are together, when Mommy, Daddy, Calvin, Jacob, and Olivia are all downstairs on the couch or taking a walk together. Jacob will even comment “we’re a whole family!”
I think my parents divorce when I was six really disrupted this basic security for me. I didn’t have one home, I had two; and my parents told me stories that opposed one another, criticizing the other person. Even from when I was eight or nine, my dad would confide in me his conclusion that my mother had been unfaithful to him, and would later cite as confirmation of his beliefs that I told him, “Dad, I think she’s cheating on you.”
My mom would talk sometimes about how he hit her and he hit us. The only time I remembered my Dad being aggressive with me when I was elementary school aged was when he would sit with me when I would practice my piano at age 5, playing “Wild Horsemen” from an enlarged xeroxed copy of the music taped to cardboard. I wasn’t getting it right, and I remember him shaking me with frustration, at least twice.
After I performed that piece, and we moved to Pittburgh, my mother stopped the piano lessons, believing it was too stressful for me. I would resume lessons when I was ten. Our shared parenting schedule was Monday Tuesday mom, Wednesday Thursday dad, and every other weekend. My dad would listen to me practice on Wednesday nights before my lesson on Thursdays; invariably I hadn’t practiced that much during my time at my mom’s house. He would get more and more pissed listening to my mistakes and wrong notes, before ultimately stomping upstairs to berate me. My brothers had that experience with the violin, but they just quit. I stuck with it into college.
Olivia’s been telling me she wants to learn piano, and I’ve done a little with her at the keyboard we keep in the basement. As I’m writing this, I just ordered starter piano books from Amazon. All this educational void offered by Quarantine has to be filled with something, and she is just dying for some more education.
Maybe I’ll go ahead and get her a Spanish workbook; everyone has told us for years to speak only Spanish to the kids, because Concetta is Ecuadorian, a native speaker, and was a Spanish teacher before we moved to Philadelphia for my residency. She’s never spent a lot of time with Olivia on Spanish, mostly because we talk English in the house and she thinks in English. I’ve made an effort to learn Spanish, getting practice materials multiple times, and taking two medical Spanish courses, but I haven’t gotten fluent. In school, I studied German primarily (because of my man Kurt Wagner), with a year of French when I couldn’t get into college German my senior year of high school. I studied two years of Latin in high school, and then taught my high school course to one student when I was teaching at the summer boarding school for kids with dyslexia, to a teenage girl who would have rather been taking dance classes.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s