My Kids Belong on “Downton Abbey.”
It might just be that I am obsessed with “Downton Abbey,” but I really think Drew is developing into a British aristocrat. First, he has begun speaking in the third person. “Drew would yike a cup of yemonade, Mr. Mommy; Drew is scared; Drew went to the yittle park yesterday.” His speech therapist says he might be substituting “Drew” for “I” because he tends to stutter on “I” and he is trying to be smooth. But I think it’s simpler than that. I think Drew has a detached view of the world around him, much like Maggie Smith’s Lady Violet. Is this far-fetched?
Another sign of his oh-so blue, blue blood is the phrase he drops at the ends of questions: “Shall we?”
“Mr. Mommy, yet’s go to the park. Shall we?”
“Yet’s have some cake, Mr. Mommy. Shall we?”
I answer, “We shall! We shall indeed!”
Contrasting this, I give you Madeline. Who yells things about POOP in public places. Whose cries bellow across the fruited plains in a way that would never fly in the Old Country. With her blanket stuffed halfway down her throat as she toddles merrily through life, I’m afraid she would take her place among the Downstairs dwellers despite her striking beauty.
She does have her moments. Today at snack time Madeline requested to eat in the formal dining room. When I say “requested,” I mean she draped herself across her seat like a human sacrifice and reached with open hand and fingers towards the dining room moaning, “In der. In der.” Perhaps she has a touch of Lady Mary Crawley within her after all. A cluster of grapes, a handful of marshmallows, and a cup of eggnog later, Madeline finally got her fix of fancy eating with a real rug beneath her chair. (And I felt my drapes exhale as she promenaded out of the room.)
One thing I’ve taken heaps of secret pride in is Drew and Maddie’s consistent use of “please” and “thank you.” Even though Madeline can barely speak English, it’s easy to discern the true meaning of “peese” and “dandtu.” And while Drew inexplicably calls me Mr. Mommy, it’s sort of nice that he is able to address someone formally. Well, address men formally. Or anybody else who might possibly be a man. Even his mother.
I am obsessed with “Downton Abbey” because I love period costumes, grand, sweeping panoramas, and the quiet, brooding composure of British actors. I also believe that I belong in that world. I was born for a time where someone else does my laundry off in a far-off cranny of the house, and brings me delicacies in silver tureens. I was born to sit by fires and drink tea and read small, hardbound books before walking the grounds in tweed.
I so often feel like the downstairs servants — constantly on the move, constantly picking up behind entitled individuals, constantly keeping things humming along — that it would be nice to just sit on a cushion. And be summoned for dinner. And have someone examine my appearance from all angles before I enter public places. It would all be a nice break from shoveling Mac ‘N Cheese into my cheeks while doing the “kitchen dance”— back and forth to get milk refills, up again for grapes, back to the microwave for the third time to retrieve my coffee, back to wipe grease and grime, all amid shouts and cries and whimpers and ballyhoos.
If they ever introduce a toddler to the cast of “Downton Abbey,” she should first and foremost be my daughter. She would be Lady Sugartickle the Third, Duchess of Blanketmere. Then, I would request a plot direction where Lady Violet and Cora Crawley must teach her how to hold a teacup. Then I would engineer a scene where Lady Sugartickle scratches Thomas Barrow’s eyes out mercilessly, all after charming Matthew Crawley into submission whilst eating something delicate out of a Waterford bowl. She will also say “whilst” a lot.
Meanwhile, Drew will look forward to watching every episode at home with me, asking, “Yet’s watch Maddie on TV, Mr. Mommy. Shall we?”
We shall. We shall indeed!