Friday, January 09, 2009

Looking Down the Tracks

It is interesting to see our peers traverse the parenting highway. Even though Ed and I weren't young when we had Gameboy and Chef (I was just shy of 30 and Ed 32 when Gameboy was born), we were several years ahead of our friends and siblings.

Most of the time, this puts us in the position of sharing our experiences. Sometimes, it makes us think "Thank GOD we're through THAT stage." and every once in a while, we're of the mind "I really miss that stage." I frequently joked with Joyce that they didn't issue my kids with pause buttons. I still haven't found the rewind or fast forward buttons for that matter. However, I can live vicariously through the ages and stages through the experiences of our friends.

Today, a friend's status message on Facebook was how he needed to get more track for Thomas and it brought me back to days of the morning room in Maryland being laid out with an intricate brio track. On one occasion, the track infiltrated the kitchen and engulfed the island, too. Alas, I never thought to take pictures of the masterpieces the boys would create, focusing on the mess that occurs when you want to spend more time with the kids rather than the joy that the moment brought them.

Brios and Thomas trains co-exist rather nicely. We were loaned many 'miles' of Brio track and trains for the boys to enjoy. Once they were old enough, the Brio was augmented by Thomas and his many friends. There were never disputes over right of way or situations where the commuter rail was sidelined in favor of the CSX freight train.

Ed and I both commented on Kurt's status, egging him on in a pursuit that we know is quite enjoyable-spending hours with the child with the trains. Ed suggested getting some HO and O, another friend N gauge and I offered up one that holds personal significance to me, the LGB trains. Why are those so important to me? Because they melted a heart and repaired a relationship.

My stepdad, Bill and I did not speak for many years. His dislike of my first husband was such that he'd rather not interact with me at all. It was his way of dealing with things. As such, when Gameboy arrived, my mom reveled in being Granny but I was quite adamant that Bill would not be called Grandpa. I felt the title is an honor bestowed on one who loves and cherishes a child and I sincerely doubted that this would happen. After all, Bill did not speak to me and tried to do his best to ignore Ed.

Then an amazing thing happened. On one of our visits to New York, Gameboy now a toddler (IIRC, it was either for Giggle's wedding or shower), we went to visit Granny and Bill. Bill was in the living room, doing his best to ignore us all, while Mom was happily chatting with me and Ed and enjoying the grandson she didn't see enough of to her way of thinking.

Gameboy got put down to toddle around and spied Bill doing something with one of his many trains. He beelined over to him and said one of his few words at that point "wain?" Bill tried his best to ignore him, but we all know toddlers-they are forces that you cannot stop. Gameboy kept at it, noticing a magazine for model railroaders on the coffee table before him "Wain?"

In rather short order, the man who would not acknowledge our presence because of my past failings was out in the backyard, running his beautiful LGB setup and telling the little boy who was fascinated all about the 'wains'. Gameboy found the way into Bill's heart. Within a short period of time, Bill and I were on speaking terms again.

In a huge sign that the relationship had come a long way, when 'Grandpa Bill' and Mom made the move from Long Island to Florida, he realized he no longer had a place to set up his LGB layout. He offered the whole set up to Ed for us to set up for Gameboy and infant Chef Jr, saying that he knew we'd really enjoy it.

A turn of events, and Mom and Bill bought a house with a yard. The trains, which were boxed up while our house was under construction, were offered back to Bill to enjoy once again. He gladly took them back and has spent many hours creating and maintaining a layout among the palm trees and brush in his backyard in St. Pete. The trains kept bridging our relationship, and the kids love it when Grandpa Bill gets those things running.

That's why, whenever anyone starts talking trains, I have to bring up the LGBs. They may be small scale, but they have the power to restore a relationship that I'd thought was lost forever.

2 People talked back:

Mike Golch said...

works for me.

Jientje said...

That's a fascinating story Suzanne! I'm glad everything eventually did work out fine between your stepdad and you, and your sons! Sometimes things in life rail across some unexpected trails it seems!