Why not sell it all?

Looking at trains

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.


4 thoughts on “Why not sell it all?

  1. Really nice read. I wish I had involved my children and now grand children in my railway. The kids were not much interested, perhaps I growled too much :( The grand kids grew up with this eccentric old man in their lives who played trains. I retired before they were born, so that’s all they know of me. One kicks a football, the eldest is going to be a champion down hill racer. My beautiful grand daughter likes being with her Papa, but is more interested in her Shetland Pony and Saddle Club, and so as I enter my 70th year, and live in the bush, it is turning into a, mostly lonely life in my model empire. Good friends do come and visit and help, but the locals are not interested in the social side of the hobby. Yes you are indeed fortunate to be able to invite your kids and sustain their interest 😀
    Rod Young

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Rod. It is hard sustaining their interest when everything moves so slowly (particularly in today’s times where there is so much media competing for attention). Perhaps you could add an area to your layout with horses and let your grand daughter take some ownership over that section?

  2. That’s a beautifully written article from a parent’s and child’s point of view, about memories, precious moments spent together, creativity, sharing, skill-building… and you’ve certainly thought out why you’re not going to sell something that you’ve started together with the boys, even though it might take a long time to “complete”. It will hopefully be an on-going project that you three can share for a long time to come!

  3. Very Nice, Rowan! You have struck a common cord with a Kindred spirit in bringing the young ones along in the journey. I played with Lionel 3 rail that my father and his family handed down as a boy. Now, with a 4 and a half year old grandson, we are playing/constructing/planning/ and sharing together.

    It is often times tough to draw in kids, and yet, you have done a great job connecting and understanding the times that click, and the “solitary times” that you are able to tackle a project that requires more care. We started on the carpet…… with a trusty 4 wheel/ plastic shelled Marx engine that I call Timex, lol. “Timex, It takes a licking and keeps on ticking”. This little engine allowed him to play, make mistakes, tip, run too fast, crash through lego-block-walls that gracefully turned into tunnels and arches….. effectively allowing him to learn to be careful, fix the tip, slow on curves, blow the whistle, reverse to couple and uncouple…. and of course, smash into the occasional plastic car that was stuck on the rails. All boy stuff that we all did… I know, right!?

    hats off, Thanks for the affermation, instructional videos, tips, tricks. It’s amazing the amount of time that it takes to run it with the youngsters, and you do quite a great job! Inspirational!! (I tell folks that the old wallpaper will still be on the walls next weekend…… for the kids are coming over, and we will…..play


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