Talking of yesterday, I remembered after writing my last post where it had all gone wrong with The Boy and choo-choos. A few months ago, when I mentioned his keen interest in trains, one of my younger cousins kindly offered to let us have a large, plastic ride-on engine that her own boys had outgrown. It looks a bit like the one that Casey Jones used to drive around the Wild West in the popular children’s TV show of my childhood. It was duly handed over to me with two huge bags full of plastic track, which I arranged in a figure of eight in our conservatory. The Boy loved it, once he had grasped that he needed to maintain a steady pressure on the black button on top of the engine’s cab in order to keep it moving forward. There is a also a red button, which appeared to do nothing at all, leading to considerable speculation – my own favourite guess was that it powered an ejector seat. However, my cousin finally put an end to that game by informing us that it had once worked a whistle, and that the day it broke was one of the best of her life.
|Enough to give a child nightmares, apparently|
When the engine was handed over someone forgot to pack the charger for its battery, so that did not arrive until some weeks later. Once it did, I duly plugged the engine in for an overnight charge, thinking that I was doing The Boy a favour. What I had not realized was that this simple act of kindness would convert his Wild West engine from the equivalent of a battered old Trabant into a shiny new Ferrari (or, if you’d rather stick with trains, from a wheezing old Barclay 0-4-0 industrial tank engine into a TGV). The poor little sod duly toddled out into the conservatory for his usual gentle tour of the plotted plants, pressed the button and the bloody thing took off like the proverbial shit off a shovel (though the origins of that proverb are something of a mystery to me, to be honest, since I regularly use a shovel to clean up after The Dog and the second word that springs to mind about the properties of shit, right after “smelly”, is “adhesive”.)
Luckily his terror did not last very long, as he parted company from the train on the first bend (and, on a figure of eight track, you don’t have to wait very long to encounter one of those). So it did have an ejector seat after all. We made that speech about needing to climb back on your horse straight away after a fall, or you may lose your nerve forever, but he just fixed us with a “You bastards are trying to kill me” look and has refused to get on the thing ever since. I suppose the miniature steam railway yesterday must have brought the horror flooding back. So once again, as so often in life, trying to do a nice thing for a child proves to be the cause of what will probably turn out to be a lifelong phobia.
On the other hand, to look on the bright side, it may mean that we never need to take him to Alton Towers or Disneyland. Get in, as I believe they say in certain circles, luckily far removed from my own.