If I were a carpenter,
and you were a lady,
would you marry me anyway?
Would you have my baby?
Morals aside, any woman who’d respond NO to this question has clearly never attempted to turn her hand at creating a Thomas Wooden Railway Train Table. The easiest way to get your tracks laid properly, so your child doesn’t destroy the layout in milliseconds, is to get laid. Preferably by a carpenter.
Here’s the thing of it: it’s not a train at all. Forget the train. Dump all those smiling talking wooden engines in a drawer. What I’m talking about is creating a track village, fit with a clock tower, swinging and collapsing bridges, haunted tunnels, coal mines, and cranks. Stations, platforms, and levels. I was smoking track crack when I signed up for this job.
Lucas is obsessed with trains. So, I say, feed that habit. Let’s learn all we can about what he loves. Even if what he loves involves my flashing a man at Home Depot for a wee bit of guidance. See, this all began with a small starter set, quite simple. Grandpa assembled, followed a layout chart, glued and balanced heavy paint cans on the tracks to set the wood glue to the table board. Done. Awesome. But then we go to the store… Ah, the brilliant toy store, an explosion of colors. A place we’ll remember as special, even as grown adults. It makes me think of candy, grandparents, Barbie, and huge metal bins with large plastic marbleized balls.
Lucas makes a beeline for the activity tables, and even when we escort him around the store to show him other things (dinosaurs, fire engines, doll houses for tiny animals, puppets, tea sets), he subtly makes it known that he wants to return to the train table. "No, Mama Papa, TRAIN!!!" He yanks us. We follow our sweet conductor’s blasé request.
I believe one of the best things we can do as a parent is to pay attention. To make observations for them, so when our children are our age wondering if a boob lift will make ’em happy, we can remind them of what satisfied them as children. Aside from the breast. "As a child, you always lit up at storytime." Or, "You could play with puzzles for hours without even knowing it was time for dinner." I think there’s something important there about our inherent talents that’s laid bare in play.
With this as my rationalization, I suggested we add a few levels to make our home setup more appealing. "He needs more nooks and crannies. Levels of stuff going on, destinations, as it were." Phil gives me the "You’re tightly packed with shit" face, but I keep to it.
"No, no. It’ll be good. Look. ‘He’ll learn valuable lessons about discovery, friendship and cooperation as well as develop valuable cognitive, social and motor skills.’" I realize, of course, that mostly Lucas likes to suck on the train engine. Phil and I agree. A celebratory party is thrown. We’re on the same page.
The plan was to build around the layout Grandpa had already constructed. Besides, there was no way of removing it (that’s the whole point). We’d secure new layouts to the table, an indestructible world. Then, as our Kind Sir grows and is able to construct and imagine his own layouts, there will be additional tracks and destinations that we’ll keep free floating in an organized train chest. Notice all the mentions of we. We has somehow now become me.
And, let’s pop the bubbly, I’m fine with it. I love that this is something I can do for Lucas. Even if my love is now measured in wood clamps and trips to the toy store for more wooden risers and small curved track parts.
Except now that I’ve spent all night constructing a layout that works with our table and with the existing layout Grandpa made, it’s time to actually secure it all to the table, and I’m in a panic. Wood clamps? Screws with slightly smaller drill bits? I am in some version of hell, and it doesn’t even include an Allen wrench (the Ikea wrench). Apparently I need "countersinking bit and [to] use a wood screw to secure the track to the risers. If you plan on making elevated tracks without using glue or screws or nails your child will destroy the elevated track setup in minutes." Where have all the hairy men in my life gone? If I succeed at this, a dollhouse for Abigail is next. If this fails, a handyman will be phoned and paid by the hour. Or I’ll offer up some fat post-holiday homemaker sex, whichever’s cheaper. Morals, indeed.