Monday I showed in picture format what my tween Amanda was up to. This picture tells so much about Kyle, my preschooler.
- He's orderly. He often "plays" by lining things up, just like I found these trains one day.
- He loves Thomas and his friends. This is most, but not all, of the engines he has acquired since his grandparents bought him his first set for Christmas almost two years ago.
- He has parents (and grandparents) who indulge his interests. Not only did we purchase them for him, but I know their names, and to some extent their "personalities."
Kyle recently attended a party of one of his preschool classmates. A few of the moms and I were talking about trains. "I think that my son's fascination with Thomas is passing," one said, and the other agreed that her son's seemed to be waning as well.
Not Kyle's. He's still fully entrenched. He plays with them. He watches the show on television, he can't go to sleep each night unless I read a story from his Complete Collection of Thomas the Tank Engine anthology (that I scored for $1 or so at a tag sale a couple years ago). If you've ever read a Thomas book, they aren't simple rhyming stories. They are detailed stories that deal with issues of character. They use advanced vocabulary, and since I'm reading from an anthology most of the time (unless he's gotten one of the story versions with more pictures from the library), he gets 3 or 4 pages of solid text with two or three small pictures embedded within.
I think that some of them think of this passing through Thomas as a big badge. It means that they are growing up--moving beyond that which interested them when they were two and three years old. I disagree. I think it's certainly okay to move on, but in sticking with it, it allows Kyle's interest to gain depth and breadth (as the span of his train collection proves).
Kyle plays with his trains the same way that those other children who are "moving on" will play with their Rescue Heros or Transformers or whatever interests four- and five-year-old boys these days. The fact that Kyle's main interest is coupled with books and a TV show that is "read" like a story, gives him a platform for play. He talks to his engines (actually they talk to each other). He acts out stories that he's heard me read to him, and he uses the ideas from the stories to create his own.
That's intricate play. It's good for him, and I get a kick out of it.
Kyle and I both like Thomas and all his friends, and for all these reasons I'll indulge his love for these anthropomorphic engines as long as he wants to indulge, and as long as I have floor space for his tracks.