Thursday, July 01, 2010

Train Spotting

Sitting in the NICU's waiting area is really depressing. So instead of going into that, I'd like to share what happened with my family last weekend. Hopefully this is as fun of a diversion for you to read as it is for me to write.

Last weekend we went to see my family in Lafayette. The whole fam was there - me, Betty, Anne and Peter, my parents, both siblings, my sister-in-law and my niece and nephew.

My parents have a huge toy train set at their house. It's comprised of a table, some trains, and billions of train track pieces. The train track can be put together anyway you want it, and certain pieces have multiple functions.

After ten minutes of watching my daughter, Anne, and my Godson, Josh, playing happily at the train table, I went over to inspect their work, and then got roped into helping them build their train track.

I decided to make our play time edutainment - entertaining yet educational. And what better way to do that than to help the kiddos understand what it really takes to build a train track?

After clearing my throat I began my lecture: "The first thing to do when building a train track," I told them, "is to procure a piece of land. Now, I see here that we have a table, but does anybody have the deed to this here lot?"

Josh looked up quizzically at me while my daughter drove her apparently magical flying steam engine locomotive through the air.

"Well, we'll assume Gransy has the receipt. Now then, have you acquired the proper permits and licences to build this track?"

No answer.

"No?! What about workers... Who did you hire to build this track? How are you keeping track of the payments? I don't see an OSHA sign anywhere so let's hope federal regulators don't swing by."

Anne and Josh fought over a piece, resulting in Josh getting smacked in the eye and Anne building a bridge to nowhere.

"What is going to power the train?" I asked. Again, blank stairs. "Coal? Steam? Electricity? We need to have an infrastructure here."

Kids today.

"Well, I'll help you build your track. But I get to name it! We'll call it the Wewoka Switch!"

(The Wewoka Switch refers to the town of Wewoka, OK, and its only motel - the Wewoka Switch Motel. The switch was where the trains were diverted. We drove up to Oklahoma one year for a family reunion on my mom's side and stayed there, and all I remember is my dad snoring a cartoon-like snore. But try explaining that to a 2 and 3 year old, and see how far you get.)

My daughter was like Godzilla in relation to the train set. Every time she turned around she knocked something down. Josh and Anne then taste tested several wooden pieces before flex-testing them for durability.

At the end of the day we had a working train set with four different tracks, a toddler with a black eye, and Choo Choo Soul playing on repeat. Plus the kids learned the full gamut of actually building a working train track. Not too shabby for a Saturday afternoon!

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