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I can hear it clearly… “They’re two, they’re four, they’re six, they’re eight, shunting trucks and hauling freight, red and green and brown and blue, they’re the really useful crew!” Phoenix sings the song at the top of his lungs, using every expression possible. This is no joke, it’s serious business. The song starts coming to an end and the excitement in his voice builds up. He sings even louder, “Thomas and his friends!” followed by the ever proud “Toot-toot!!”. This song has been sung in my house for the past three years. Not only this song, every song ever sung by one of Sodor’s famous engines.
Just before Phoenix turned two, he was introduced to a cheeky engine named Thomas. It was love at first sight – that is until he got to know the other engines! Needless to say, Phoenix fell in love with Sodor and the engines that live and work on its railway. I remember putting the DVD into the machine and Phoenix wondering what was going to come on. His eyes lit up, and he sat quietly throughout the episode. He couldn’t get enough. This love for Thomas and his Friends grew and grew over the years. Phoenix will be 5 in September and STILL plays with his engines and watches the shows (although he is not as obsessed as he use to be). We have seen every episode from Season 1 to 24… both US and UK versions.

For three years, my lounge has looked like the island of Sodor, set up with tracks and trains. For two years in a row, on occupation day, Phoenix went to school dressed up as a train driver (and I’m sure if he was still at a mainstream school, this would be the case again this year). Phoenix had a Thomas party for his third birthday – and trust me, it took a lot of work, and the birth of Joshua to convince him that he didn’t need a Thomas party when he turned four. From tracks and trains, to books, backpacks, water bottles, building blocks, iPad games, and clothing… We keep an eye out for anything Thomas related. In our country however, Thomas isn’t very popular, (unless a new movie is released) so finding anything theme related is very limited.

You can imagine not only Phoenix’s excitement, but Farrell and mine too anytime we find an engine that could be added to his collection. Phoenix has been collecting the Adventure tracks and die cast engines, as we find them to be the most durable. Trust me, his engines have been dunked into the bath, pushed through muddy puddles and fallen off cliffs i.e rocks, steps, tables or anything high up. This is not so good for the battery operated Track Masters, which on their own are great to watch going round and round, up and down on the track you’ve built.

Over the years, I have honestly loved watching Phoenix grow with his trains. He started out playing with them, and mimicking what they did in the show. We also had to help him build most of the tracks and “set the scene”. He is now able to build the tracks on his own, making the most interesting scenes. He sees what he wants it to look like in his head, and then executes it, interlocking curves, straights, adding bridges and other things along the way. If something doesn’t quite fit or look right, he quickly corrects it. He puts so much life and energy into each train he is playing with – using different voices and giving them jobs (to stay really useful of course). He can spend a long time on his own engrossed in this world. He gets creative and adds other elements depending on what is happening on the island of Sodor on that particular day (sago as snow, transporting popcorn seeds or lego blocks, water for the “wash-down”, mud, sand, you name it). The best part for me though is watching Phoenix respond to an engine that is acting “out of character”. The thought, logic and reasoning that goes into problem solving that situation is absolutely fascinating to watch.


Phoenix is slowly taking a liking to other toys – although Thomas and Friends still feature daily. He has even included them into our homeschooling counting activities. Joshua seems to be taking a keen interest in the engines too, but right now I think it’s more of an attraction to their bright colours, smiling faces and the fact that they have wheels! I do hope that Joshua will learn to love Thomas as much as Phoenix does… After all, there are so many things to hand down to him! Truthfully, as much as I enjoy the episodes and secretly sing along with the songs, sometimes not so secretly, I’m not sure if i’m ready to “Eat, Sleep, Thomas, Repeat” just yet!

– Cath