The One About Wonder (not the bread, or the book, or the movie, or the Stevie, or the Woman)

Or: How I am continuing to learn that my kids are awesome.

When was the last time you watched Mary Poppins?  Probably, like, yesterday, right?  Unlike some “classics” of my youth (I’m looking at you Voltron,) Mary Poppins is still just as entertaining and magical now as it was 30 years ago.  The story.  The singing and dancing.  The seamless blend of live-action and animation.  It really is practically perfect in every way.  That has never been more apparent to me than now… that I’m… a parent.

I love my kids.  Big shock, I know, to have a Dad admit to loving his kids.  Kinda sounds like the opening to a meeting.

“Hi, my name is Dave.”

Hi Dave.

“It’s been 7 years since I became a dad…”

-hold for applause, congratulations, and my 7 year chip-

“…and I have no idea what I’m doing.”

That is my daily confession.

Anyways…back to Mary Poppins.

I was laying down with my own little Jane and Michael Banks recently while my amazing and talented, and amazingly talented, way out-of-my-league wife was putting our littlest Banks boy to bed.  I was with the other two watching some movie trailers at bedtime on the iPad.  Normally we read books.  Lots of books.  Prize-winning books that make every parent think that as long as my kids read all of these books with the gold seals on the front, I’m doing a good job as a parent.  Yeah, we read those books.  But sometimes, we just hang out at bedtime, play a few minutes of Jurassic Park on the iPad, watch a few minutes of a random YouTube video, or, see what new movies are coming up. 

This was not a book night.

As we scrolled through the offerings, each hoping for a miraculous secret new Godzilla: King of the Monsters trailer, or Barbie: Barbie-does-literally-anything-and-kids-will-watch-it-and-love-it-and-beg-to-own-it-and-every-accessory-that-is-seen-in-it. Part 2; we came across two upcoming movies that everyone wanted to see.

Mary Poppins Returns, and The Grinch. 

Now, of course my kids have seen Mary Poppins.  Of course they have.  Did they sit and watch all of it? Most definitely not.  Can they pronounce Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?  Of course they can, my kids are geniuses.  They loved the singing bits.  The self-cleaning rooms, off-road Merry-Go-Rounds, dancing on the roof-tops, and brunch with penguins bits. I’m not so sure that we even finished it all the way through, but I am certain that they tried to finger-snap their rooms clean and did their best penguin dances.  

So, as we scrolled through the movie trailer offerings that night, I was surprised by their immediate recognition of the trailer thumbnail and the desire to see more.

I won’t go into full review mode, because again, that’s not what I do here; I’ll just give one moment in the new trailer that really caught my kids attention and got an audible “gasp” out of both of them.  Before I give it away though, I’ll encourage you to go view the trailer yourself.  Go watch it.  See what you think.  It’s the first trailer released, not the several others and entire movie that have been released since I started this post oh so many weeks ago.

The second movie trailer that caught their attention was The Grinch.  My daughter (who turned a Fancy Five with a fabulous Fancy Nancy birthday part, to which I wasn’t invited) isn’t the biggest fan of big furry costumes.  Chuck-E-Cheese? Nope.  Santa Claus?  Nope.  Minnie Mouse probably couldn’t even get a hug or a high five out of her.  So, it didn’t surprise me when she didn’t like the live-action version of The Grinch.  Cartoon creatures are different.  They get a pass.  Like the older TV special of the Dr. Seuss adaption, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

(That Christmas classic wasn’t received nearly as well as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Bumble, Hermey and Yukon Cornelius are more cuddly, sweet and charming as supporting characters, and are a little less vile, deplorable, and nauseating with a super “naus.”)

The newest iteration of the The Grinch walks a fine line between the older, Grinch with eerily expressive eyebrows, and the live action slapstick/creepy furry version, and the trailer definitely had us laughing.  But, it also had one of those moments that really grabbed my kids attention.  

Watch the trailer. Trailer #3 of The Grinch to be exact. Watch both trailers.

Done?  Did you really watch them?  I wish there was a way to put up a pop quiz here and see if you really did watch it, and if you failed the pop quiz then this post would self-destruct and you’d be forever locked out and spend the rest of your mortal life wondering what I had to say, because, doesn’t everybody?

Back to the topic here, wonder.  We all enjoyed the trailers and they both clamored to see each movie as the credits rolled, but there was moment in each that took their breath away.  The scenes that stood out the most?  It wasn’t the big sweeping scene of Mary Poppins floating down to Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane.  It wasn’t the loudest snow in the world or the rotund reindeer with an affinity for whipped cream.  It wasn’t magically changing clothes in a swirl of animated flowers, and it wasn’t even the disappearing act into a tub of bubbles at the end.

It was the mirror…

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Well hello there.

…and the mug.

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…and like that, he’s gone.

Both something so simple and small.  A lingering reflection in the mirror after Mary has walked away that lasts a second or two longer than the actual person.  Mirrors don’t work that way?!  

The cup was there, and then it was gone!  A quick little slight of hand trick that doesn’t last more than two seconds on screen.  My adult brain knows exactly what is happening.  My awesome Dad brain is thinking,

“I could do that.”

(I know my wife is laughing at me right now because I say that about a lot of things I see on TV or movies.  American Grit?  The Amazing Race?  American Ninja Warrior?  Sure I could do all of those things…I would probably end up really lost in a foreign country, or really hurt in my own country.)

Socrates, the philosopher friend of Bill S. Preston and Theodore “Ted” Logan, is quoted as saying that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Since this night with my kids, I’ve examined my life a little more and noticed that the simple slight of hand tricks and illusions don’t amaze me like they used to.  These trailers, even though they did peak an interest, didn’t take my breath away and shake my reality like it did my kids.

But I guess, in a way, they did.  I’m constantly amazed by my kids and by my life in general at times. This Christmas season, driving around with an awestruck 2 year old was a perfect reminder of how amazing this life really is. Every 30 seconds I got a reminder of “OOOOOOHH, Christmas!” with each strand of lights.

On every block.

At every house.

Every time.

Here’s me casually dropping in some poetry, to make you think that I am educated, classy, and read poetry all the time, when in reality I just heard it on NPR one morning and it stuck with me and would kind of fit at this moment in our story:


Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
-“Sometimes” by Mary Oliver-

Red Bird – Mary Oliver – Beacon Press, 2008

I’ll be the first to admit that paying attention is not one of my better qualities, but my kids, my wife, my life, sometimes does astonish me.  I am immensely blessed and would be a fool to not tell someone about it. So here’s me telling about it. 

What about you, oh reader mine?  What are your sources of wonder and awe?  What takes your breath away these days?  If you can’t immediately think of something, go out and pay attention.  Find something to be astonished by.  Then come back and tell about it.  

Or not.

Whatever.

(I had originally entitled this one ‘The One About the Little Things’  and found it funny that as I fleshed out the post, originally the ‘little things’ had meant those magical mirrors and slight of hand tricks that are so special to too few of us.  I guess it’s more about those other little things, my own littles, that are really my sources of wonder.)

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