Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Chronicles of Mr. Fox, An Anecdote From Motherhood


The glass doors slide open and our steps quicken a little in anticipation. It smells of freshly printed
ink and musky paper.  Children are chattering and adults shushing.

The toddler in my grasp points out books as we make our way to the back, making sure to clutch his beloved Mr. Fox’s stuffed paw tightly.

Books on airplanes, origami, the animal kingdom… some that intrigue me, others that intrigue the two year old.

The library. We could live here, if they’d let us.  The children’s section is Ezra’s dream, with blocks, puppet shows, puzzles, and, of course, books.

 I dash over to the author section “C” for Cousins, Lucy. Fingers crossed, a little prayer sent to the heavens.

“Please, God, please let them have a few new ones today.”

And there, with unfeigned excitement, I pull out new Maisy books, or ones we haven’t read in awhile.

She’s a mouse with an adventurous life. She goes to places like the fair, the city, the countryside. She goes to preschool and uses the potty like an expert. She plays soccer with her friends and, of course, it ends in a tie. No hard feelings.

It’s a world of primary colors and characters that dance across the page. We know all of their names- Dotty, Tallulah, Cyril, Ella, Eddie, Charlie...

Ezra beckons me to a children’s table- I sit next to him on the kiddie-sized chairs- and we read to Mr. Fox. To-do lists, expectations, grown-up thoughts, they melt away when I am reading to him. I am as lost as he in childhood glee and picture book imaginations.


When the hour fades away, I have the daunting task of ripping him from the block fort he is building. I give him five more minutes, and then five more.

“Ezra, it’s time. We will check out these books here.” It’s always a mound of twenty or so books; luckily, we have yet to lose one.

We leave our little haven and tumble into the car with our stack of books in a weighed down potato sack of a bag.

Five minutes out of the parking lot, a dreadful realization comes over me.

“Ezra, Mr. Fox.”

The toddler’s tone is panicked. He knows as well as I do that Mr. Fox is sitting inside a block fort, cold and alone, praying hard that some other grimy hands don’t decide to adopt him as their own in the ten minutes of our absence.

We turn back, this time entering the glass doors with a different feeling of anticipation. We rush to the back- new faces are there, reading and playing.

No sign of Mr. Fox.

I suspiciously eye the children around me. Any one of them could be a culprit.

We ask the librarian if anyone’s turned in a stuffed fox. She shakes her head solemnly no.

In my mind, I’m already begging the nice woman on Etsy to replicate what can never fully be replicated- the worn in, charming face of the freckled Mr. Fox.

Two more rounds around the library, scanning the nooks and crannies, the aisles, the play areas, the puppet trunk…

“Mr. Fox,” I call out, “where are you?”

But, he is quiet, wherever he is, as he prefers to only communicate through Ezra.

And then, as I’m about to walk away in loss, I spot a little apple red fabric tail poking out from the cupboard of a wooden toy kitchen set.

“Ah,” says a man nearby, “is that your fox? My daughters were cooking and serving him to the other kids.”

I laugh, mostly in relief, and notify the daughters that their dinner is now going home with me.
I hand him to Ezra, who smiles with love in his eyes at the little creature, and we walk back out the door, hand-in-hand, feeling lucky.

 Mr. Fox and Ezra lay down that night, as always, in Ezra’s “big boy bed” and they take turns nursing (yes, I nurse a stuffed fox) until their eyes are shut and they’ve drifted off to sleep, and I smile as I tip toe out of their room.

 Motherhood has expanded my heart to new depths I didn’t know existed within me.

It means I love very much a little mouse creature and her peculiar set of friends. It means that my heart genuinely thuds in fear when I fear a stuffed fox may have disappeared from our lives forever.
And it means that I can let go of my to-do lists, my expectations for the day, to be lost in hours of wonderment with the one I daily love a little more.

Because this love means I sincerely take an interest in what he takes an interest in, and that ability to care for someone outside myself, has changed me.


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