Thursday, December 18, 2008


The little train in this picture isn't actually a toy--it's a Christmas ornament. A really heavy one. I've had it for a while, but I always have a tough time finding a good spot for it on the tree because it weighs about a pound, and that's enough to make even the sturdiest branches droop. What's worse, this year we got a wimpy tree, and none of the branches were strong enough. So I left it off. Stuck it on the ground under the tree and thought nothing more of it. 

Of course, five minutes later Zeke found it, and instantly granted it "favorite toy" status. Brought it to school, zoomed it around his train tracks (in spite of the fact that the wheels are fixed), and told anyone who would listen what a big, strong train it was. 

I was fine with this because it was the most action this train had enjoyed in its entire existence. It went from being touched for one minute twice a year (on the tree, off the tree), to being the 24-hour-a-day companion for a small train enthusiast. And I wasn't scared he'd break it because I figured it had to be made of iron or steel or something similarly dense and strong. 

Turns out it's not. (Made of steel.) It's made of something white--I can't figure out what--that is in fact quite breakable. I only know this because I dropped the train on our kitchen floor and shards of it shot off in every direction. I guess you can't tell in the picture, but chips are now missing from the roof of the train and the cowcatcher in the front. 

Zeke was not amused by this incident. He asked me to fix the train. I told him I could not because the pieces were too small (they were--I swear). I also told him I was very, very sorry for what I had done. He seemed OK with this...didn't cry or throw a fit. But he must not have been as OK as he seemed, because at least twice a day since the accident he walks over to where the train sits on the kitchen counter, looks at it solemnly, and says "Mommy is very sorry for what she did to my train." Each time I agree that I am sorry and silently hope that one day I will be granted absolution for this heinous crime (all the while resisting the urge to point out that technically it's still my train--I was just letting him play with it). Alas, so far it does not look like forgiveness is in my future.

So what I'm wondering is: Do all toddlers naturally understand the power of guilt? Or is Zeke just a guilt-savant? A gifted student of the art of emotional manipulation? We shall see. In the meantime I've gotta figure out what to do to get his mind off this train.


  1. Hey Ali -I'm still suffering from not allowing you to be a reindeer in The Night Before Christmas pageant I put on for your grade school class! No way Zeke will forget this, but you could ease his pain by buying him a REAL METAL TRAIN (instead of plaster of paris). You might find him forgiving after all. You, on the other hand, will probably NEVER be a reindeer in a play and I will have to assuage my own guilt with reaffirming my good intentions and eating copious pieces of chocolate.
    You'll always be my dearest deer!!!

    Love, Mom

  2. Oh no! A guilt savant?!? I'm pretty sure that's how we raise 'em in my family. It sounds like he's honing his skills.