Mary Poppins, the beloved nanny, who has seen a resurgence due to the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” was such a delightful character and everyone hoped for someone just like her to rescue them. My sister Abby and I were no different. So, with great hope, we met up with Beatrice who was our new stepmother. As you have previously read, our first meet-up was very pleasant but quickly went downhill from there.
Mary Poppins, played by Julie Andrews, had this fabulous word that she sang to the children, “supercalifragilistiexpealidocious”. It was lovely, sweet and enchanting.
After spending a few months around Beatrice, you might say the special word attributed to her was the exact opposite of Mary Poppins. More like, “superficialmostlyselfishattitudeatrocious”. Yes, unfortunately, Beatrice was not only superficial, she was also most concerned with all the wrong things. Fashion trumped character any day of the week. What others thought of you was always more important than what you thought of yourself. And, since she had no filter, the words that came out of her mouth were often atrocious. Hurt feelings were laughed at and you were thought to be a big baby or a brat or overly sensitive if you reacted to her outbursts.
The truth is we were all her targets. Not just Abby and me. Sissy and Kevin also suffered from her verbal attacks. However, the final straw for me was when the damage was inflicted on my dear daughter Fiona. I knew Beatrice and knew all her tricks, or thought I did so could ignore the bad behavior.
One Christmas when the grandchildren were quite small, Beatrice did the unthinkable. She bought two little darling tents for two of the granddaughters even though there were three granddaughters. There they were by the tree all set up to everyone’s delight. The tents were for Diana and Maci, but alas no tent for my Fiona. The hurt was deep and got worse when Beatrice bestowed two “Vern” dolls, one for Maci and one for Diana. Again no doll for Fiona. Her lame excuse was
What was I to do? After all they only had two dolls, not three.
I was hurt deeply by this obvious show of favoritism and since it was my daughter who was left out, the hurt went to the heart. All I could think was how could anyone do this to a little girl and in such an “in your face manner”? I excused myself, went upstairs and had a complete meltdown. My two dear sisters (BEST EVER!) followed me and tried to calm me down. Sissy was insistent that I confront Beatrice. I refused because it was Christmas and it was her house. I did not want to ruin Christmas for everyone. Little did I know that I would be accused of doing exactly that!
Abby and I took Fiona and went out to eat, yes on Christmas night. We talked and talked with Abby being my comforter. Since we were all leaving the next day to return to our own homes, I decided not to rock the boat.
The next morning, Dad took us out to eat for breakfast without Beatrice. Nothing was said about the tents, the dolls, the favoritism. I left for Iowa and Abby and Dad drove to the airport in another city for Abby’s flight back to the southwest.
The drive was less than cordial for Abby. Dad tried to plead the case for Beatrice but Abby did not fall for it. He said Beatrice had been up all night and blamed me for ruining Christmas. Abby pointed out the less than fair way she treated the grandchildren and I believe it is the only time they had such an exchange.
Many years have passed since that Christmas and I have forgiven Beatrice for her transgressions. However, I will always wonder about how anyone could do that to a young child who deserved so much more.