last moon

Thursday, August 9, 2012

5 Myths About Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins, both as a character in a series of novels by P.L. Travers and as a beloved film role filled by the inimitable Julie Andrews, has long been considered the ideal nanny; so much so that the term “Mary Poppins” has fallen into common usage as a way of describing a real-life nanny with impressive qualifications and a sincere love of children. We, as a society, are so absorbed with the concept of Mary Poppins as the original Super Nanny that we sometimes forget how many things she did that would get a non-fictional nanny fired on the spot, or at least reprimanded. These five traits, as displayed by Mary Poppins in the 1964 film chronicling the exploits of the titular character and her charges Jane and Michael Banks, are just a few of the things that makes her place in perfect-nanny history a bit of a head-scratcher.
1. Parents Are the Enemy – Mary Poppins introduces herself to Mr. Banks after summarily dismissing the competition by basically fooling him into hiring her, setting the tone for the film as one of Mary, Jane, and Michael versus the adult members of the Banks family. Mary consistently speaks to Mr. Banks in a manner that clearly displays her contempt for his workaholic attitude, authoritarian views, and hands-off parenting style. In reality, nannies that actively pit themselves against their employers in a bid to gain their charges’ love and admiration are likely to have a difficult time finding and maintaining a post.

2. Nannies Administer Medicine Whenever They Please – “A Spoonful of Sugar” is an iconic song, even amongst the hundreds of other standouts in the Disney film universe. While the underlying sentiment that unpleasant things can be made tolerable with a pleasant attitude is an admirable one, any professional nanny knows that administering medication without express permission and instructions to do so is a major no-no. Because viewers rarely see Mary Poppins interact with Mr. or Mrs. Banks, it’s easy to assume that they haven’t established the open line of communication that is vital to a healthy, functioning nanny/employer relationship. Mary makes almost all of the decisions regarding the children’s daily lives and welfare, leaving her employers out of the loop and excluded from the lives of their son and daughter.

3. Dangerous or Risky Outings Are All Part of the Fun – Skipping across rooftops, taking tea on the ceiling, and racing cartoon merry-go-round horses is all good fun, but they’re also inherently risky activities. Rather than trying to keep Jane and Michael from danger, Mary Poppins opts to willfully engage in their dangerous games while making a few token efforts to minimize the risk. Nannies in the real world know that a risky outing is also a job hazard, but Poppins behaves true to form by eschewing any rules that her employers might have ostensibly put in place, had she only given them the chance to do so by speaking with them on occasion. By the end of the film, Jane and Michael are left not only heartbroken at the departure of their beloved grown-up playmate, but also with a taste for risky adventure that could prove even more dangerous without her supernatural supervision.

4. Children Should Become Good Friends with Their Nanny’s Boyfriend – Any nanny that’s ever held a post knows that bringing a suitor around her charges regularly and during working hours is a surefire way to end up with no post at all, but Mary Poppins’s probably paramour Bert is an ever-present part of the daily lives of Jane and Michael Banks. Despite the fact that he is a good-hearted, jovial sort, he’s still spending more time with his lady friend’s charges than their parents do.

5. Smug Superiority is an Admirable Quality in a Nanny – Mary Poppins declares herself “practically perfect in every way,” fools the befuddled Mr. Banks into taking his children to work with him with a condescending air of superiority, and often tap dances around the line between “confident” and “cocky.” A professional in any industry is well aware of the importance of maintaining a respectful, courteous tone during interactions with an employer or supervisor, but Mary Poppins seems to have no qualms about lording her perfection over the people that she encounters.

Mary Poppins is one of the most beloved figures in children’s literature and film of all time; the very actions that make her such a darling amongst bookworms and movie lovers, however, are the ones that would almost certainly lead to her abrupt unemployment in the real world. As a valuable lesson about the difference between fiction and real life, Mary Poppins is simply “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”

  P.S. This post was  proposed to me for publication by Kathy Simmons I'm therefore publishing it by her invitation and under her permission. See also the link below fore more information:

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