“You’ve got to grind, grind, grind at that grindstone,
While childhood slips… like sand… through a sieve…
‘Till all too soon they’ve up and grown
And then they’ve flown,
And it’s too late for you
– from “A Man Has a Dream (The Life I Lead) (A Spoonful of Sugar)”
From Mary Poppins
This may be the most important line found in the classic Disney movie, teaching one of the most important lessons our culture has forgotten.
After the Great Depression, working fathers became almost desperate to ensure that their children never endured such poverty. That translated into making enough to give them everything they wanted. That meant more time working, less time at home, less time with family. That means a man’s worth becomes tied to his career, his financial security, and so he slaves away, missing the most important thing of all: time with his family, his children.
The author of Mary Poppins, the book, saw something similar happen to her own father, and the story of Mr. Banks, the redemption he finds in the film, was her way of rescuing him, as best she could, the only way she could.
This song comes soon after Mr. Banks has been terminated from his lofty employment at the bank. I find it interesting that, if we were to listen to his verse, right before Bert sings this one, the rhythms complement each other. It’s two competing messages, but both are about loss, losing time, losing dreams. When compared side by side, however, which loss is greater? Career? Or time with your dearest loved ones?
The answer should be self-evident.
I just want to give a shout out to my sister, here. Where we live, we just had some snowfall. Not much, really, but unlike where we grew up (in Alaska), nobody around here knows how to deal with snow. So, that means the schools close and the kids stay home.
She recently wrote on Facebook how she woke up in the morning to her kids going, “Let’s go play with the snow!” And much later, they were asleep, and she was logged in, working from home, which still needed to get done because they’d spent the morning playing together in the snow. She called it a good trade. The moments we have with our kids go by so fast, and they will never come back once gone.
She learned the lesson of Mary Poppins, among other things.
And I praise her for it. 🙂
Good on you, Sis. Good on you.