he "played tracks" whenever he was home;
we read stories from the Thomas the Tank Engine Story Collection every single night. We know not just Percy and James and Gordon and Edward, etc. etc. etc., but the lesser known Molly and Donald and Douglas and Sir Handel and Victor and all of the other Friends. Any given engine might end up in a coat pocket for a trip to daycare. Not just engines - anything Thomas was fair game.
I loved that he and Caroline both played with the trains - hearing John make up stories for the trains was one of those wonderful toddler year delights.
Of course, the day inevitably came when his interest in Thomas waned in favor of Star Wars, Legos and Angry Birds, so we recently boxed up all of the trains, tracks and stations and moved them into the attic. We haven't kept many toys over the years, but it was a combination of sentimentality, total financial investment, and the hope that someday we'll have other little people who want to play with Thomas and his Friends!
While we may not still sing the Thomas theme song at bedtime except for the rare occasion when I suggest it, the love of trains isn't completely gone. The romance of the rails appeals to boys big and small, and big sisters aren't immune. This past weekend we checked out the Northwest Arkansas Model Train Show, and it was just the right size to pass an hour or so with model trains and sets.
There were plenty of vendors, too, and wouldn't you know - the first thing John and Caroline saw were the Thomas and Friends items.
I miss Thomas sometimes; there are lots of excellent lessons about being a Really Useful Engine, and warning the midgeroos that they were causing Confusion and Delay was a great parenting tactic to get slowpokes moving.
As the trains whizzed by on the electric tracks, you could see the wonder and excitement on those sweet faces still there: