Reasons to be grateful: A young boy and an old train set

A few weekends ago I took my son on the train to visit my parents in the UK country side. During our time there we had an uncharacteristically hot day. We all have pale skin and are prone to burning, and on top of that I tend to get quite light headed when it’s too hot so I’m not a huge fan of the hot weather.

My parents have a nice garden that features a couple of terraced patios, and the highest one is sheltered by the shade of a graceful old apple tree. We decided not to go anywhere in the heat but instead potter around at home. My son is still a toddler and doesn’t need elaborate entertainment any way, he can spend twenty minutes examining a CD (my parents still have a lot of those).

After my son took his afternoon nap he was pottering about in the garden when my dad emerged from their cellar holding a mysterious plastic box. He put it on the table under the apple tree and invited my son to sit at the table with him. Once my son was settled in his chair my dad began pulling out pieces of track and old electric locomotive trains for my son to look at and hold.

My son really loves trains, and has a wooden train set at home that slots together like a jigsaw made by BRIO (this is one of the sets he has, they are compatible with other more elaborate sets, affilliate link so if you chose to buy this set using this link I would get a small commission), but the set my dad showed him was more elaborate, delicate and involved an electric track. It also had a number of detailed steam trains, which my son loved zooming up and down the table on a piece of track my dad put together for him.

It’s a very old train set, part of it belongs to a set that my father’s father gave him when he was a child, and part of it my dad bought for a set at some time or other (he used to be a set designer for TV programmes), so we didn’t think it would actually work. However, after a little detective work and some DW-40, my dad persuaded one of the units to race around the track. It was quite an exciting moment.

Generally I would have thought my son a little too excitable to play with something with such a delicate set up, but he controlled himself very well if it meant spending the afternoon playing with grampy’s train set in the shade. At times he sat and chatted with my mum about all the trains and what they were, even though he doesn’t really understand that much, which was enchanting to watch.

As I’ve said else where, we needed fertility treatment to have our son, and frankly there were times when I didn’t think we would get moments like these. I feel intensely lucky to have spent that warm afternoon in the garden watching my son play with his grandparents and an old train set under the apple tree.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you are interested in the process of creativity and want to get a copy of my free short book of creative prompts, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon page here.

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