Monday, October 7, 2013

More Wisdom from Watching "Mary Poppins" Yet Again

Mary Poppins is my favorite Disney movie. It has lasted through the years of being my favorite Disney movie and bridged the gap of loving it as a child and now into an adult. And the thing about that is that it's for different reasons that it was my favorite then and why it's my favorite now. As a kid it was the whimsicalness of it all. More of a love of Mary Poppins and the wonderful adventures she brings.

But as a teenager and into college, it was seeing what Mary Poppins really did: she strengthened a family. Made them realize how much they loved each other. And as I watched it again on a back to back typhoon weekend where we couldn't leave the house, I came to love and admire a particular character that I often overlooked: Mr. George Banks. The so-called neglectful father. He is so misunderstood, especially from the child's perspective. But from my more grown up and mature perspective, he really isn't such a meanie.
The first thing I notice is what kind of husband Mr. Banks is. It's 1910 and his wife is a very active and passionate feminist suffragette. She goes off protesting for votes for women (which includes throwing rotten eggs at the prime minister I believe?) and risks getting thrown in jail. And what does Mr. Banks do? Nothing. He lets her go off and pursue those passions. I'm sure most husbands in 1910 would not be so tolerant of their wives being active suffragettes.  So from my view now as a wife, Mr. Banks is a pretty legit guy, and not too different from my husband who dutifully goes to work every day and never gets upset if I ended up spending the day at the beach while he was working so hard.

The second thing about Mr. Banks is that he is a man who takes great pride in the fact that he takes care of and provides for his family. He says, "I feel a surge of deep satisfaction, Much as a king astride his noble steed. When I return from daily strife to hearth and wife, How pleasant is the life I lead!" His flaw is that he takes his role of provider too seriously---meaning that he forgets that playing/interacting with your kids is an important part of that whole providing thing. I've always admired that about men: that for the most part, they want a person or people to take care of or provide for. It's pretty selfless.

The last thing that really stuck with me, especially after listening to Jeffrey R. Holland's wonderful talk this weekend, is that Mr. Banks isn't perfect, and while it's easy to attack him and say he doesn't care about his kids, we overlook the fact that he has his insecurities and he feels the pressure that's placed upon him, especially when things don't go so well at work. It was this beautiful scene between Bert the chimney sweep and the children that really struck me this time around:

"You know, begging you pardon, but the one who my heart goes out for is your father. There he is in that cold, heartless bank day after day, hemmed in by mounds of cold, heartless money. I don't like to see any living thing caged up."
"Father? In a cage?"
"They makes cages in all sizes and shapes, you know. Bank-shaped some of 'em, carpets and all."
"But Father isn't in trouble, we are."
"Oh, sure about that, are you? Look at it this way. You've got your mother to look after you. And Mary Poppins and Constable Jones and me. Who looks after your father? Tell me that. When something terrible happens, what does he do? Fends for himself, he does. Who does he tell about it? No one! Don't blab his troubles at home. He just pushes on at his job, uncomplaining and alone and silent."

Naturally, after thinking about and what Bert and Elder Holland said, it makes my big emotional self shed a tear or two. I feel so blessed to know so many good men and have them be a part of my life. It's far too easy in society to say that men are pigs and women suppressors (since unfortunately there are so many that give a bad name to the rest of them). Or that they have no feelings or can't have insecurities or be emotional, because that's what a woman does. I've even found myself believing these false notions from time to time.

I admire Mr. Banks, and I admire those good men. So, in the words of a beloved 80s chart-topper, "let's hear it for the boy!" Thanks, you great men, especially the ones in my life. I don't know what I would do without you.

(And thank you, "Mary Poppins," for just being so wonderful.)


  1. For our Christmas movie I want to see "Saving Mr. Banks" About PL Travers resistence to Disney making the movie. What do you think? MOM

  2. Thank you for this spoonful of sugar.

  3. This blog is supercalifragilisticexpialodocious! And so are you! Love you.

  4. I love your Dad's comment! How cute. Mary Poppins is one of my favorites. I don't remember the last time I watched it. It's funny how Disney movies have "hidden" meaning you just don't see as a kid.