Talking Umbrellas

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins.

I was raised on her whimsical magic, her strict adherence to schedule and her intolerance of poor posture. Umbrellas became instruments of flight, carpet bags gained a sudden mystical quality and chalk drawings on pavements – portals to other worlds.

Yesterday, we passed on the baton – introducing the next generation to the catchy tunes and muddled family dynamics of the Banks household. Our eldest has been roaming the house absentmindedly singing ‘Chim-Chimminy’ all morning, and Dave spontaneously decided to serve out spoonfuls of sugar as the credits rolled. (He may or may not have made the rookie mistake of leaving the open sugar jar in front of an unattended Ivy, returning seconds later to find her enthusiastically spooning more of it into her mouth.)

Returning to this classic has been enlightening due to the discovery of the Enneagram. The inimitable Mary Poppins is a perfect example (practically perfect, in fact) of a healthy Type 1. She has firm expectations of those around her, ensures everything is subject to an appropriate amount of order and control, but does not become derailed by obstacles. She cautiously seizes moments of spontaneity and weaves magical reform throughout the ordinary moments of each day.

There is a moment towards the very end of the film – Mary gazes happily (though a touch wistfully) at the retreating figures of the now united Banks family as they musically skip off to fly their kites – and the ornately carved parrot on the handle of her umbrella begins to chatter. He laments the rude exit of the Banks and their failure to say ‘thank you’ to Mary Poppins, and suggests that she will be torn up by having to leave the children. She listens politely to his diatribe and then kindly but firmly cuts him off. It hit me later how this is the perfect depiction of the superego and a healthy approach to controlling that critical voice that is ever-present in the background.


Identifying moments that are laced with the superego’s irrepressible critique is so important for a healthy Type 1, and choosing (like Mary) to embrace truth instead of surrendering to that deluge seems to be a key factor.

All these years on and Mary Poppins is still changing the hearts and lives of children (and adults, it seems) everywhere. Now excuse me while I go and practice my clicking skills at all the mess in the living room.

This post is inspired by the Five Minute Friday writing challenge. Each week I join with this talented group of writers, free writing for five minutes in accordance with a prompt (though again, I used far more than five minutes). Today’s prompt is ‘truth’. 

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