Not all toddlers are obsessive, but if you have one that is, you know it. The range of things they can be obsessive about it pretty impressive: dinosaurs, butterflies and moths, or construction vehicles all seem to be pretty common. With my little one it began with the alphabet.
We watched Sesame Street videos. I was home-alone-with-baby a lot, as many new mothers are, and my baby was a bouncer. It freaked me right out when the bouncing took place in the high chair, and a little video calmed things down while I made second, third and sometimes fourth helpings of cereal (and other foods, as they were introduced).
Sesame Street has approximately a thousand versions of the alphabet up on YouTube.
Okay, okay maybe that’s an exaggeration, but they have a lot. A lot. My kid loved them all. Patti LaBelle? Oh yeah! Kermit? Yup. Usher? Yes, we will watch that please. Elmo? Sing it, furry red monster! Ray Charles, India Arie, Tilly and the Wall? Yes, yes and yes!
They have songs about individual letters, too. My child had favorite letters of the alphabet. We would cheer when the letter U came out, like it was the star player of a sports team.
The alphabet, I will have you know, is a gateway to train obsession.
Trains are a perfect vehicle (literally) for displaying the alphabet, collecting the alphabet and singing about the alphabet. There are lots of alphabet related train videos, and slowly we started watching some of them, too.
I can’t blame only the alphabet though. The truth is, we watched Baby Einstein’s Things That Go video and for reasons I will probably never know the train segment struck a chord deep within my child. The entire video was loved, but as soon as my little one could sign “more”, there were requests to re-watch the part about trains.
There were no train toys in the house. It was ages before we saw Thomas and Friends or anything like it. It didn’t matter. My kid was in love.
If there is a train nearby it will be found and celebrated, whether hurtling past us on the highway or in the background of an illustration nearly hidden in a jumble of other objects. Unrelated items that bear passing resemblance to a train are inspected for possibilities.
High speed train
In our house (and outside of it) we do trains.
When it began, I knew next to nothing. Like, seriously, right next to nada, zip, zilch. I was a frequent subway rider, and had taken a train to visit my grandmother in northern Ontario as a child. I’d never even had a toy train. Now I tweet about trains and toddlers, and write, and hope that even if your child isn’t quite as laser-point focused as mine is, that you may find some of it useful and interesting.
I didn’t (and don’t) know if it will end someday and another love will blossom, but my kid is still pretty keen on the alphabet, and the love of trains is going strong.