Is it possible when we talk to our parents we talk only about the extremes in our lives? Boast about our proudest moments or complain about the things that bother us? Do we filter out all the middle bits and present an unclear picture of what we enjoy most about every day life?
I’ve certainly complained a few times since starting our N scale model train layout. For one thing it’s taking way longer than I expected. And it’s certainly a lot more difficult than I anticipated. The boys see other amazing layouts and wonder why Dad is taking so long. But if these complaints were the tip of an iceberg then what lies beneath is an entirely different picture.
Up to the ages of 3 and 5 my boys would spend hours each day obsessively playing with their Thomas trains. And I mean hours. Once they grew a bit older and started appreciating N and HO layouts at local exhibitions my creative spark lit up. I realised this was something we could share together.
I decided to involve the boys in as much of the process as possible and chronicle these precious years on video. Creating a video as we reach each milestone is a wonderful way to capture them learning patience and new skills. It shows them accepting challenges and responsibilities that shape their self confidence. And it inspires me to keep doing it.
It’s not all about the kids. On mild evenings I really enjoy getting out into the workshop to tackle the complex aspects that are still beyond my boys. I spent considerable time setting up my workshop and I find great pleasure in utilising this space for one of its intentions. It gives me an escape from my computer based hobbies where I can unwind with full control over artistic direction. Each month creative thinking is required to solve a new challenge so it’s never boring. Along the way I’ve learned numerous skills and have started forming friendships with local club members.
The boys are thrilled when every so often we pull down our boxes of scenery, structures, grasses and locos that we’ve been collecting for the layout. They unpack everything and remind me what various items are for. Together we plan how to utilise the components and what we might need next. We also enjoy collecting items for the layout and photographing ideas while out and about.
I have my own treasured childhood memories of examining precious artefacts belonging to my parents and grandparents. This is the stuff that fuels the imagination in a small child. These are the moments I will cherish forever as a parent. I need to develop patience too – to accept the kids are still learning to respect delicate objects and not be too grumpy!
We are interested in building a garden railway one day. Mum believes we should sell the N scale gear to fund the G scale project. But you know what, we’ve already collected some precious n scaling memories and look forward to creating many more. The middle bits are what really counts and selling the N scale layout will never be an option.