March 11, 2010

Popping back into childhood’s joy…

Posted in Between Us column, Entertainment, Relationships at 4:32 am by dinaheng

I’ve always loved Mary Poppins.

As a kid, I enjoyed reading some of the children series by P.L. Travers, which formed the basis for the movie that starred Julie Andrews as the magical nanny, blown by the wind, to 17 Cherry Tree Lane to take care of the Banks children.

Set in the Edwardian era, Mary Poppins was the wise and mysterious woman who brought order, peace and renewed love to a family whose middle name would have been supercalifragilisticexpi-dysfunctional.

So it was great fun to go to a matinee of the musical “Mary Poppins” on Broadway, and watch all the kids sharing the joy of the story with their parents and grandparents.

As it turned out, I ended up sitting next to a dad who was separated from the rest of his family at the show.

“There are seven of us, and we couldn’t get all the seats together, so Dad got to sit by himself,” he said, smiling.

Watching the show was a reminder of how hard traditional fatherhood values can be. George Banks (played by Karl Kenzler) saw his role as the breadwinner for the family, and nothing else. Everything pertaining to the children and household fell under his wife Winifred’s domain (played by Megan Osterhaus).

But when George is suspended from work for a potential costly mistake at the bank, he starts to examine his values.

In today’s economy, where many are suffering from unemployment or the fear of losing their jobs, a lot of us are probably examining our values. Are we happy with our jobs? Are we happy with our relationships? Are we happy with the direction of our lives?

While some of us have been impacted more than others, I don’t know of anyone who isn’t affected by the uncertainty of the times. And when uncertainty strikes, the first place we usually turn is to family.

As children, if we’re lucky, we spend our time at play, learning about the world around us, and discovering the passions that will define our lives. We usually don’t give much thought to the adults around us, assuming that they will always be there to take care of us.

In a poignant moment on stage, when the children start complaining about their father, Mary Poppins (played by Laura Michelle Kelly) asks them, who’s supposed to take care of the father when things go wrong?

As adults, we learn that there are times when we truly have no control over the problems that come our way, but we can control how we react to those problems. We don’t have to give up our dreams and hopes, but we can look at the blessings in our lives, and appreciate what we have — like childhood memories, the children around us, and the child still within us.

For as Mary Poppins would say, “Anything can happen… if you let it.”

And as the dad sitting next to me said, “Now if I can just get out of here without the kids wanting to buy every souvenir they see.”

Where is that nanny when you need her?

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