Okay, but the thing is… trains.

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Some kids have security blankets. Some don’t go anywhere without their favorite teddy bear or stuffed cat or Elmo doll. My toddler isn’t any different, it’s just that he has forty-seven security blankets, and they are called trains (actually, they are not all called trains, they have specific names and identities like Percy, Gordon, Edward, and Balloon Car. FML). I have no problem with my kiddo being a train aficionado; in fact, I think it’s adorable and, as a good friend once said when I mentioned Leo’s preference for moving vehicles, “What could be bad about it? It’s just transportation.” I had to agree. I don’t mind that my kiddo wants ALL THOMAS ALL THE TIME. It’s cute — except for the fact that I have officially become a train herder. I dream about my kiddo being obsessed with one dirty, unidentifiable stuffed animal with a missing eye and a dried lollipop stick stuck in its fur. Because the alternative is a part-time job tracking, mobilizing, and collecting easily misplace-able small plastic toys.

Case in point: Let’s say it’s the morning, and Leo’s just woken up. What does he want to do? Take all of his trains upstairs from his bedroom to the playroom put them on the “TRACKS! TRACKS!” (to any outsider, my sweet 2yo sounds like he has a gambling problem). We get upstairs, he plays with the trains on the tracks for all of five seconds, and then it’s time to go to daycare, at which point all ten trains* must be transported down two flights of stairs to the garage where they are deposited either into the pockets of my diaper bag, or in his rolling Owl, and at this point they’ve been dropped several times as we each attempt to carry way more trains than hands were designed for. (I know what you’re thinking: we should move to a one-story house. We live in San Francisco so that is actually a physical impossibility, but point taken).

Once we arrive at daycare, the looming question of the day is (wait for it)… which trains he will take with him? James and the red car? Talking Gordon and Talking Gordon’s Tender? A decision is painstakingly made, and a few hours later, at pick-up time, it is my sole responsibility to remember which trains traveled with him so that I can guarantee we’re bringing said vehicles back home with us. Otherwise, lasting psychological damage might occur before we make it back to daycare in two days (this step is even more critical if there’s a weekend pending. The last thing I want to hear for 48 hours is “WHERE’S PERCY WHERE’S PERCY WHERE’S PERCY?”** At bedtime, trains go with him in his crib or big boy bed, and all of his favorites must be present, I mean I don’t blame him I can’t sleep without my red car, either.

So what, exactly, does this mean for me? Obviously, I know almost all of the Thomas trains’ names, colors, and attributes (anyone who’s anyone knows that Toby is a tram engine made of wood, right?) but beyond that, it means that I spend a good 40 minutes of every day either searching for trains, picking up trains, rounding up trains, or putting batteries into the talking/musical trains that were invented specifically to make parents want to cry themselves to sleep. It also means that I don’t have room in my head anymore for the names of Senators or reality television stars, because if I’m not able to identify, locate, and produce Leo’s red caboose or traveling Sodor library book car on a moment’s notice, I’m the parental version of toast. What else? I can whip out a fairly accurate crayon drawing of each and every train, not that I’m bragging or anything. Trains seem to be my cross to bear right now, but there is a plus: they are extremely replaceable mass-produced toys that can even be procured, in moments of desperation, on Amazon Prime. Thank God.


*There aren’t really 47; there are about 10 “go to” trains and about 15 generic, non-Thomas-the-Train-brand back ups that don’t get chosen for important, leading roles but serve as filler in the train line-up, and those trains are sad 🙁

**This happened once, and let me cut to the chase by saying that it resulted in our family acquiring a second Percy. “Old” Percy was then, of course, immediately located, just in time for “new” Percy to disappear. At time of publication, he is still MIA.

19 thoughts on “Okay, but the thing is… trains.

  1. Brings back memories of Dominic’s Thomas phase. I was glad when they stopped playing the really early episodes on Sprout – Thomas was such a d-bag! He would do something obnoxious, then the show would just end. It pissed me off to no end. And the way Sir Topham Hatt would strut around asking if they were being “useful.” Yeah, thanks for making my kid afraid that if he wasn’t doing something for me, I’d lock him in a shed. It’s better now, so I digress. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with everyones’ toy entourage. I can barely get their names right the first time. Sometimes I feel guilty for gently guiding them to like the same stuff. You like Barbie? How about I spraypaint this crusty dinosaur pink and slap on a tutu? Oh, you like babies, too? Guess what has lots of babies……Dinosaurs. Anywho, I have lost my “train” of thought (hahaha! You see what I did there?!) and need to whip up some Valentines before Miss Baby wakes up for the millionth time. Love and hugs from the North Pole 🙂

    1. Valentines! THANK YOU I ALMOST FORGOT! and HAHAHA Sir Topham Hatt. What the hell. Have you heard any of the Thomas episodes narrated by Alec Baldwin? Random! xox

      1. Those were weird! I couldn’t help but imagine him going off on the “early Thomas” the way I did in my head.

  2. I remember the Thomas years with my first two. I couldn’t listen to Alec Baldwin’s voice for years (dating myself but once upon a time he was the Thomas narrator). Second I had three types of trains and tracks and it was a pain to keep them separate!

  3. This cracked me up. Now we have a small, one-level house, but still, I feel your pain. I mentioned on FB that we now hide the trains in our guest room (which has doorknob thingies so they can’t open the doors). That does not prevent a chorus of “I WANT TRAINS OUT” morning, noon and night, but at least I have some control over it. Not that I have control over anything else, which is why my couch is covered in PB&J. Do you ever sing the “clean up” song with Leo? I have one OCD child who looooves to clean up, so he has almost as much fun putting the trains away in their box as he does playing with them. My other child could not care less, so it’s not a perfect solution for everyone, obvi. XOXO

    1. I WANT TRAINS OUT — hilarious. Sounds like Leo’s “NEED MORE TUNNELS.” Good idea to lock it all up… though Leo figured out those dang doorknob thingies immediately and I had to give up on them (probably I got the too-cheap models. I still don’t know how he did it, though!). Yes, Leo actually does like the clean up clean up, everybody etc song, which is a life saver. Though it only works about 37 percent of the time! 🙂 xox

    2. Our house could easily be one level, it just happens to be extremely vertical, because they’re all built that way in SF. I curse the stairs but hope deep down that they are doing wonders for my butt. Jury’s still out on that one 🙂

  4. Oh man so far my kid has not yet asked to bring too many things with him, although we will humor him and bring about two or three of the things he’s playing with. He does like trains and tracks though, and has a little Thomas set too 🙂

    1. I’m sure I’m quite guilty of going along with his demands to bring “trains, trains, trains” with him all over the place. Mental note with next kid: DON’T. DO It. xox

  5. We get the British version of Thomas with Ringo Starr’s (god-awful) narration. Also, Chuggington. Yeah, Chuggington. What? Who? It’s on right after Thomas and I’ll be damned if I can discern a lick of difference between the two. Or maybe it’s just me….

  6. Our guy has a thing for vehicles too. And also a Teddy. We also have the “which toy you bringing” question everytime we leave the house. And of course we have to keep track of it too. Havent lost a toy yet (cross fingers). At home, he always asks us where a specific vehicle is. And it’s always the one that he hasn’t played with in forever and how the heck are we supposed to know where it is. Oh well. Just like us always looking for our phones 🙂

  7. Forty trains > One Blanket. Because, if said child pukes on a plastic train, it is easily rinsed off. If said child pukes on a blanket, not only must it be laundered and dried, but it must be done well before the next sleep. Thank goodness I work at home and thank goodness my child does not puke on the weekends (not yet at least).

  8. This made me nostalgic for the train stage! I hope my littlest gets into it (because we have SO MANY and tracks, etc). Sam, now 9, the former train lover, is now all sports all the time.

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