Friday, February 17, 2012

Dismantling The Path

There's a mile of wooden train track stretched across my bedroom floor, another mile running across the foyer past the grainery, the dairy, and the chocolate factory on to the hospital and station.

To walk amidst this massive construction project is not for the faint at heart. Even if I can maneuver through the obstacle course of downed trees and power poles or the yet to be erected traffic signs, I must still contend with the three ever-moving construction workers, each with his and her own mental blueprint of how the final rail line will look.

A tunnel through solid rock is blown clear in seconds, a bridge dropped in place even quicker. Only Wyatt, my five-year-old, has figured out how to make the most of his materials, criss-crossing another line of track under an elevated portion and wrapping it around to join with the other pieces. When the twins reach an obstacle, they simply stop laying track, resulting in dangerous dead-ends around every bend. At three, they are also clumsier. Wyatt screams their names out loud each time they accidentally kick over a bridge or snitch a piece from his line's middle to complete their own new line forming over by the bathroom.

Seconds later, the tables turn and they scream out his name because he is disassembling their contribution of dead-ends and replacing them with pieces that will connect all the seeming randomness together into one fluid line, where there is no beginning and there is no end.

It hasn't always been this way.

In the beginning, when Wyatt wasn't quite two years old, I purchased the already-loved buildings, track, and trains in one huge, inexpensive lot on E-bay, then found a used train table on Craigslist. With my brother's help, I made a layout and hot glued it together to a board.Little Wyatt and then little Emerson and Amelia spent hours with pudgy fingers pushing long rows of train cars up and down the hills, in and out of tunnels, all part of the path I had laid out for them.

But the more sunsets passed, the more my little trio has chosen to play with other toys where they can control what happens, where they create from the nothingness.

This past Tuesday, I spoke with husband about dismantling the track. It was time.

A screwdriver, a little elbow grease, and a few hours is all it took to turn something into nothing than can now be turned into as many somethings as can be imagined.Breaking apart the expected and un-gluing the's bittersweet.

This is just one time of many that they will tire of the paths I have set for them to walk, one time of many that I will set my little ones free to not merely take the road that forks right or left, the road well-worn or the road less traveled by.

Instead, I must guide them while simultaneously setting them free to lay their own paths in their own way. And hopefully, that will make all the difference.


  1. Boy does this bring back memories. We had a set up like this years ago. Can't remember where it is anymore, maybe Goodwill. These are happy memories that I'm sure your kids will never forget...

  2. Definitely some happy memories Deb. Hopefully, there will be many more to come.