Providing daycare to two of our grandchildren has its challenges, especially when I’m also trying to write articles for my blog.

Every time I open my laptop to start writing (like now, this very minute), a 15-month-old comes over and wants to watch nursery rhymes.  His two-year-old brother is never far behind.  Both want to climb up on my knee to sit on my lap and watch, yet again, “Old MacDonald Had a Farm, E-I-E-I-O.”   They love it.

Some nursery rhymes have more music than others.  When we play the ones that have real “bounce,” they do exactly that – bounce up and down on my stomach and my bladder, the result is me rushing down the hallway to the bathroom, stepping on toys as I run!   Some of the toys emit musical sounds when I trip over them, competing with the nursery rhymes still playing on the computer.

After 20 minutes of nursery rhymes, around the time I’m thinking that one more “Old MacDonald” will see me heading for the nearest asylum, I switch them over to “Thomas the Tank Engine.”  We begin with familiar songs from Thomas, starting with “Boo! Boo! Choo-Choo,” which was really scary the first time but is now just another catchy number.  After “Boo! Boo!” we watch “Never, Never, Never Give Up,” another rousing Thomas number.  Sometimes, I follow that with an actual Thomas story.

Today, the Dowager Countess featured in the story.  Sorry, that’s Maggie Smith on “Downton Abbey.”  I mean “Dowager Hatt” on Thomas, the Tank Engine.  They are both very similar – not somebody to argue with!  They both like to have their own way – always!   I doubt there’s anybody else in America, indeed, in the world, who watches both “Downton Abbey” and “Thomas the Tank Engine,” but, I must confess, I do.

Thomas is set on the fictional island of Sodor.  At least, I think it’s fictional.  (Mental note – if it really exists, don’t go there!!!)   Downton is sort of fictional – it’s a fictional place with fictional characters but it’s filmed in an actual castle, Highclere Castle, not far from London, a castle occupied by the 8th Earl of Carnarvon and his wife.  My wife and I would very much like to visit, next time we are in the UK.  (Such a visit would also give me a break from further viewing of “Thomas” – by then, I may need extensive therapy to get over it!)

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what I like.  It’s all about the boys.  And they love “Thomas.”  Yesterday, I saw models of Percy, Thomas’ best friend.  So I bought two, one for each of the boys who live with us.   It was a wise thing to do – if I had bought one, we would have lived through non-stop fighting but two enables both to play with Percy at the same time without incident (until one gets lost or damaged, that is).  (Note from wife:  One already got chewed by the dog.)

I should probably go back and buy two more for the twins in Indianapolis, as we are visiting there in a few days.  However, I’m not sure they are in to Thomas and I don’t think the store had two more, anyway.  I will have to find something else for them.  Whatever gift I find, in a few days there will likely be four boys on my lap, all listening to nursery rhymes and using my stomach as a trampoline.

Aubren and Leeson are both now down for a nap, enabling me to write this and, hopefully, another article on a world news topic.   There’s a lot happening in the world and it can be overwhelming and negative – so perhaps it’s really good to take time out and watch a few episodes of “Thomas the Tank Engine” from time to time, interspersed with familiar nursery rhymes!



  1. Sounds like a very fun time was had by two little boys who are greatly loved by their grandpa (or whatever name they call you).

  2. Good for you!–nursery rhymes are important to their future learning. We have 6yo children at school who do not “get” rhyme, probably because no one sat with them and introduced nursery rhymes when they were 15 mos and 2yo.

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