“Well, well, anyway, blue is the only color for a really useful engine.
Everyone knows that!” - Thomas the Tank Engine
O loves trains! Actually, O is obsessed with trains. It wasn’t until he began attending preschool that he started to explore the fact that toys other than trains exist and might actually be enjoyable to play with. Even so, more often than not, the trains win.
He is particularly fond of Thomas the Tank Engine, as so many boys his age are. However, he also has a detailed knowledge of how steam engines work. He knows things about pistons, fire boxes and drive rods. He also has an unlimited knowledge of freight cars and coaches, mail cars and diesels. While I am proud of all the train knowledge O has acquired, I do recognize that this is not typical of many 4 year olds.
Trains are also O‘s comfort item. He uses them to de-stress, much like I use a hot bubble bath, a good book or my own blog. He could, and has, spent hours organizing and creating stories with his trains. He likes to be alone with them, to get lost in his imagination, where he is in control. This comfort and control, along with his knowledge and obsession, does not make sharing or socializing with his trains very easy.
Several weeks ago, we had another family over for dinner. They have two boys around O‘s age. This took a tremendous amount of courage on my part, not knowing how O would handle having other boys his age at the house, playing with his toys. When prepping him for the evening, we discussed that the boys would be coming and that he would have to share his toys. I wish I could accurately describe the look on O‘s face…it was pure anxiety. Not because he doesn’t enjoy the boys or that he hadn’t played with them before, but because he would have to share his toys, more specifically his trains. I know that all 4 year olds struggle with sharing, but I would argue, for a different reason.
My son is truly afraid that someone will use his trains incorrectly. Even adults are typically not allowed to touch the trains, but rather watch as O explains the story the trains are telling that day.
So, back to the prepping…we talked about what toys we would share and what special toys we would put away. I must admit, I struggle with this. How will he learn to share if we don’t require it? But, in our journey, we take baby steps. Sharing the dinosaurs and toy cars was hard enough, but the trains would have been too much…at least for now.
The evening went well, sharing and all. It wasn’t until the end of the evening when the boys were helping clean up that O had a minor meltdown – after all, they weren’t putting the toys away correctly! Again, the word obsessive comes to mind. Like I said before, it’s a journey. But, I think we’re on the right track!