The days are getting distinctively darker and gloomier and the nights are drawing in. The children have gone back to school and even the toddler groups have started up. There’s no denying it any longer. Autumn is well and truly here.
And that’s fab! Don’t get me wrong, I love the sunshine, particularly the kind this past summer delivered. But my favourite season has to be Autumn (and December which is technically winter but hey, I’m among friends). It’s so full of purpose and there seems to be an unending list of things to do. Which I love. The fact that my birthday and Christmas also fall in this time probably helps 😉
One of my favourite things to do when it’s dark and miserable outside, is to curl up on the sofa and watch a film. But these times are not suitable for any old film and towards Christmas they will likely come from my small but quality collection of Christmas movies (Muppet’s Christmas Carol anyone?). But until then, I am a sucker for a feel good Disney movie. I’ve been trying to introduce the boy to Disney films pretty much since he was born. I even bought him some which have male protagonists, (Jungle Book and Monsters Inc) to temper my more female Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. But recently I decided it was time he was introduced to the world of Disney outside pure animation and showed him Mary Poppins.
I love Mary Poppins. I can remember the first time I ever saw it (Christmas Day, 1983) and its been a fixture in my life ever since; recorded off the telly, on the telly or (now in the 21st Century) on Netflix. I’ve been watching it practically all my life and I know all the lyrics to all the songs. I’ve been singing “Stay Awake” to soothe Oscar since he was born and now as soon as I start to sing it, he puts his head on my shoulder. I thought I knew this film.
Until I watched it the other day, with Oscar, through a mother’s eyes. I saw something in it I’d never noticed before and I’m still having trouble articulating what I saw so bare with me.
What I saw, for the first time, was not magic. What I saw, was a person, who comes into the lives of the children and provides them with the opportunity and ability to go on magical adventures using their own imagination. There was no Merry Go Round, there was no tea party on the ceiling. Rather an adult who enabled children to explore their own minds (I also saw a mother who, when she couldn’t find anyone else to look after the children when they had run away from the bank, was happy to leave them in the care of a stranger, a chimney sweep she’d never met, but that’s by the by). For the first time I saw a message to me as an adult; be the conduit through which children can explore and use their imaginations.
Was that message always there? Did I miss it before, because I had no children? Am I reading absolutely too much in to what is actually just a quaint story? Possibly. I mean, like I say I thought I knew this film upside down and back to front. Or do you take from films and books and media what I you need/want to? Probably.
But it’s made me think. Not just about the film itself and what the hell I was seeing from the first time, but about my role in Oscar’s development. When he was tiny it was all about the physical, helping him roll, crawl, walk, eat, keeping him physically safe. But now, I think, I need to turn our attention to the more internal aspects of his development. I’m not talking about ABC, 123 (although we do sing these every day!) I mean I think I need to concentrate on being that conduit, allowing him to develop that imagination. I look at his toys and I think it’s time to move away from those hand eye co-ordination, flashy light, musical thingamajigs and bring out the blocks and the hand size cars and things that make him play.
Being responsible for his physical well being suddenly seems like a doddle. Now I am responsible for encouraging something I have no control over. I can’t see what he’s imagining. I just have to go with him for the ride.
It’s funny. I always wanted to be Jane. She had such pretty dresses and got to dance on the rooftops of London. I never got to be her. But now, I get to be my own Mary Poppins. And that my friends is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!