A few months ago, when I posted “One Conversation about Running, with Some Idiot who Only Runs if Chased”, Manchild became a bit sensitive about his nickname. He had misinterpreted the “idiot” title reference and thought I was mocking him. I began to understand how a nickname such as I’d given my husband had started to lose its humor over time. True, we women often refer to our husbands as our children in a good-natured, loving-but-sarcastic way. But to be the butt of a joke that never dies—even the butt of a loving joke—may not be an enviable position.
So I began to consider a new nickname for The Husband Formerly Known as Manchild.
I love my husband dearly, but one of the things that drives me berserk are his high standards and complaints. One day, watching Mary Poppins with the kids, I realized…my husband is Mr. Banks.
Poppins’ Mr. Banks wants greatly to be a man with a life of order and predictability.
In his song “The Life I Lead”, Mr. Banks sings,
I run my home precisely on schedule
At 6:01, I march through my door
My slippers, sherry and pipe are due at 6:02
Consistent is the life I lead!
It’s 6:03 and the heirs to my dominion
Are scrubbed and tubbed and adequately fed
And so I’ll pat them on the head
And send them off to bed
Ah! Lordly is the life I lead!
A British bank is run with precision
A British home requires nothing less!
Tradition, discipline and rules must be the tools
In short, we have a ghastly mess!
My Mr. Banks arrives home from a 12-hour day of commuting and work—though not at a bank, a career in the financial sector with bank relationships–between 6 and 6:30 pm. On school nights our kids are ideally fed and bathed, or in the process thereof, and off to bed shortly afterward. And no, there is no presentation of slippers, pipe or sherry from me to him (though I suppose if we had servants that could be arranged….). Instead, my Mr. Banks usually retrieves his own recreational beverage.
Our Mr. Banks hates arriving home to a ghastly mess. Some days anarchy just happens, however, and he tries to be patient while cutting his feet on Legos on the floor and stepping across milk puddles and staring at Boychild who persists in an evening-long fast from his now-cold dinner. Sometimes Mr. Banks needs to vent about toy clutter and the presence of chaos. On such a day, while the kids and I were listening to “The Life I Lead” song, my own Mr. Banks walked in and started nodding and smiling in agreement with Poppins’ Mr. Banks’ sentiments. He could relate with the fantasy.
The similarities of the two Bankses are a bit uncanny. When Poppins’ Mr. Banks is annoyed by the birds outside his home, his maid tells the animals, “Quiet! You’re giving the master a headache!” I feel like shouting the same at unidentifiable noises on road trips, when our own Mr. Banks is behind the wheel and begins smacking things and shouting, “Do you hear that rattling?! DO you? Where is that coming from?” (I hear nothing).
When the cinematic Mr. Banks is flustered, he requests that Mrs. Banks have the piano tuned even though he never plays. Just like our Mr. Banks is driven mad by any item in disrepair or en route to such; any filthy car; or any surface covered with piles of papers.
And while I may get annoyed…..sometimes very much so…
with the fact that Mr. Banks has particular opinions in opposition to soup, explaining, “I’ll have plenty of time when I’m old and toothless to slurp liquids”;
and with the fact that he negotiates everything and has lectured me gently about how I “need to run this house like a business” in terms of paying various service providers;
and that his need for uniformity, even in food texture, caused a recent argument regarding the pasture-raised, non-homogenized milk I was buying;
and with the fact that when I told him a reputable source said it’s possible to obtain Irish citizenship based solely on proof of Irish ancestry and wouldn’t that be cool?! his response was, “I don’t think that’s a great idea because considering their current economic state they may start coming to you for taxes”
…..Mr. Banks is sort of a hero.
In Mary Poppins, when Mrs. Banks is preoccupied with her suffrage movement (note: why is this treated so trivially and Mrs. Banks portrayed as so flighty in the movie??) and has just sung a line to her servants , “We agree that men are rather stupid…” while marching around, oblivious that her children have gone missing….
in marches in Mr. Banks.
Mr. Banks comes home to a house with missing children, a distracted wife, and a nanny who is in the process of quitting her job on the spot. And he takes control, phoning the police, calming his wife, and volunteering to vet the new nanny. Granted, he refuses to help the children create improved kites at the next moment, but give the man a break. He’s still waiting for his sherry!!
While I’ve never lost my children, some days I’ve nearly lost my mind by the time my Mr. Banks returns from work. He is our hero. He respects my interests, career aspirations and serial causes (though none as noble as suffrage), and is an active parent. My Mr. Banks has not attempted kite-making….yet…but has made paper boats and paper airplanes at the request of Boychild and Girlchild, and just this week I found my broken costume jewelry quietly repaired and waiting for me. Things are fixed, hugs are given, order is restored.
And I believe, just as Poppins’ Banks sang,
I feel a surge of deep satisfaction…..
When I return from daily strife
To heart and wife,
How pleasant is the life I lead!
that despite the fact that a life of precision seems unattainable for us, our Mr. Banks loves us anyway and would miss the craziness dearly if we weren’t around to love him back.
We love you, Mr. Banks. In fact, we adore you.
And don’t think for a minute that I’m unaware of the fact that, truly, I may be only one hot nanny away from being ousted and replaced around here. 😉