Boys and toys

Friday 25th – Sunday 27th November

Last Sunday the Captain and Boatwif watched as Cal Guy Jnr fell irrevocably in love with trains. That was at Poway. (See On Monday the older brother escorted the Captain and Boatwif from Cal State University to Escondido on the Sprinter (light railway) – just two stops away, the purpose being a bookstore visit. Waiting for us at the top of the ramp at Escondido overlooking the station (US: transit center) were Cal Son and Cal Guy Jnr. What a good view there was of the two coach train we had ridden on and of the other double-engined train. Cal Guy Jnr jumped and jiggled as the hooter sounded and the shorter train drew out. Infatuation!

            Next day Cal Son came up with a project: the train table was to be reinstated to its original purpose. Clear off surplus toys, find the wooden rails, fasten together a loop with an incline, add a siding, locate the right battery operated trains, attach some magnetic trucks – and start! What joy; what excitement! Cal Guy Jnr leapt in the air, purred with pleasure, verbalising Californian toddlerspeak nineteen to the dozen… this was a project well worth doing.

            Two days later, while Cal Mom was preparing Thanksgiving Dinner, another project was started: create a route for the electric trains.  Track was laid out from under the bed, across the bedroom, under the door and across the landing to a complex four-way junction. Much testing and track cleaning had to happen – but Cal Guy Jnr, refreshed from his nap, was enthralled – and did not interfere with the proceedings. He has since surveyed the layout and watched Cal Guy Snr’s inspection of points and assembling of trucks and locos, still his face lit up with awe and wonder…

            Friday, though, saw a serious “Boys and toys” event when the Captain and Cal Guy Snr spent four or more hours aboard USS Midway, the 1940’s aircraft carrier which last saw action in Gulf War 1. So many highlights: eager questions answered, aircraft to sit in, an audio headset to help the tour, but the most impressive place seems to have been the huge engine room (one of four)  – and the job aspired to? Why, that of flight controller!

            And now the marathon Boys Event is under way. There were signs yesterday: a huge sparkly gold bow ribbon attached to a tree at the first address inside the gate; further along there were two tall and slender conifers bedecked in coloured lights. Around the estate all day Dads have laboured with wires and cables and extension blocks because now is “Holiday Season”, time for candy canes and reindeer to decorate the house fronts and lights to be festooned along the roof line. With two long poles taped together – and a fair amount of perseverance – Cal Son and the Captain have attached strings of LED lights to the eaves. A polar bear stands guard at the door, lit Santa faces line the drive while reindeer graze on the front grass. (Cal Guy Snr has confided that he doesn’t think Santa will have difficulty in identifying his house!)

            What other toys for boys? A flying hobby shop visit was made – as is customary – to buy a couple more chuck gliders and two small train accessories for the wooden train set (as much for Boatwif as Cal Guy Jnr.) But the boys haven’t had it entirely their own way: Cal Gal developed and practised a routine of five tricks to perform at the park, is a keen Charades for Kids player, had a ball with clay and bubbles, and also made a sea urchin and a redpot monster out of recyclable plastics at the San Diego New Children’s Museum on Friday. There was a special bookstore run for her on Sunday – and she enjoyed the Happy Feet 2 movie at the cinema (though big brother and the Captain opted for The Muppets)..

            Back to school and work tomorrow – back to serious graft after all the playing with toys!

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