“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

My Son's Best Friend 

My son has developed a fondness for Thomas the Tank Engine.   In fact, “fondness” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of my son’s obsession with all things Thomas.   It makes his early love for Elmo look like an infatuation.  It far surpasses even his addiction to “Cars” that resulted in my ability to quote the movie line-for-line.  He knows all the cars by all their names.  Next to Thomas himself, his favorite train is “Percy”, the mispronounciation of which has caused many a raised eyebrow in the toy section of the local Wal-Mart.

 My son’s favorite Thomas manifestation is a Thomas that toots and plays his theme song when pushed along.  It is the last thing he carries out the door with him in the morning and the first thing he looks for upon being strapped into his seat after evening pickup.  Lately, Thomas had ceased singing quite so cheerfully and had devolved into emitting a long repetitive series of mournful whistles.   Thomas has developed the most common toy condition known to man – degenerative batteritis through parental neglect.  After Harry attempted in his frustration to “fix” Thomas by hauling out the tool bag and staging an impromptu dissection, we decided it was time to add batteries to the shopping list.

This morning, Thomas had his operation and underwent a full recovery.  Harry’s reaction was complete and contagious – he beamed with radiant happiness.  He pushed Thomas and squealed with delight.  He clapped his hands together, and danced a little happy dance, twirling through the kitchen at every repetition of the Thomas theme.  He was simply ecstatic.

I stood watching him, his smile spreading to my face.  How wonderful it was to be a child whose worldly woes could be fixed by three small batteries.  How such a small thing could bring such unqualified joy, and how as we become “adults”, with adult worries, adult woes, we lose the ability to give ourselves over to these small moments of complete contentedness.  How our problems become so complex, by the march of time or by our own machinations, they they cannot be fixed using a screwdriver and three minutes of time.  How inevitable is our discontent.

And I reflected also my son’s fortune at being born into a world where, even as a child, his worries can fixed by a suddenly reattentive parent.  How so many children, through fate and human frailty, face problems much larger than a tired toy.  Born with pain from illness that does not respond to a quick battery change.  Born into places torn by poverty or war, where the hardship of no batteries takes a backseat to having no toys at all, or no food.  Born to parents whose neglect extends far beyond failed memories, unable to turn to adult arms to find comfort, and worse, whose problems are inflicted by those very people charged with their care.   Those are the children whose faces may never show those sunshine beams of joy, secure in being loved and attended.

I am grateful.  Grateful for being, through no design of my own, born into one of the most privileged countries on earth, to parents who could and would provide security and love.   Though modest by the standards of my society, I have enjoyed the contingent benefits of life in a nation of plenty unimaginable to much of the rest of the world.  I AM the fortunate.  I am the privileged.

As I look at my son, playing obliviously with a little blue train, I am thankful that he is fortunate, too.  And that he has the luxury of his innocent ignorance.

There is time enough for enlightenment later.  Now it’s time for Thomas.

December 5th, 2007 at 1:07 pm
6 Responses to “The simple fixes”
  1. 1
    jodi Says:

    what a lovely post.

  2. 2
    Kat Says:


  3. 3
    OS Says:

    Welcome to Sodor, we love it here. : )

    Just this week my boss and I were discussing how on our worst days, when we think we have such serious problems, in reality, we are two of the wealthiest women on the earth. We are priveledged. Thank god. And . . . Have you seen the real honest to goodness train that is Thomas, a real steam engine? We took Puppy two summers ago and it was phenomenal. Just a short drive to Dallas was all it took.

  4. 4
    Stephanie Says:

    It was inevitable that he develop a fondness for Thomas. All kids must love Thomas. How could you not? I personally dig Sir Topham Hat. 😉

    Do we get Thomas as a companion for Friday’s drive?

  5. 5
    Bambi Says:

    Thank you…something about your words this morning touched me.
    Miss you guys so much!

  6. 6

    Sigh. So beautifully put.