- My 2-year-old son loves playing with trains; I on the other hand, hate it.
- He's bossy and tells me what I have to do with the trains all the time.
- There are many things I love doing with him; admitting what I don't like doesn't make me a bad mom.
"Mama, can you be Percy?"
"Oh no. Not the trains," I think. "Anything but the trains."
My son loves trains. A few months ago he acquired a huge wooden train set: yards of track, bridges, stations, ponds, and almost all the Thomas the Tank Engine trains. It's his favorite toy.
But I hate it.
It's boring. He's bossy, and tells me where my trains can and cannot go, and which other trains they can and cannot talk to. He asks me to do voices for each train and notices if I do them differently than I did the last time. He makes me control two or three trains at once, which requires way too much getting up and down off the floor for my weary 34-year-old body that just wants to watch while he plays trains.
There are many things I love doing with my child. I love eating dinner with him. I love taking him to the park. I love cuddling while we watch movies and taking him for ice cream. But I do not love playing trains.
It's normal for parents to not love everything we do with our kids
I recently tweeted about my hatred for trains and asked if there were things other parents hated doing with their kids. The tweet — which got pretty popular — got a lot of hate from non-parents.
Things about how awful the parents in the thread were for acting like encouraging imagination in your children was a chore.
Which it is. It's almost impossible for an adult to keep up with a toddler's imagination. It's like doing improv with Michael Scott from "The Office" when he refuses to follow any of the rules.
But a lot of fellow parents added their own personal grievances as well. There were parents who hated making meals for their kids only to have them reject everything on their plate, parents who hated going on vacation with their kids, and parents who couldn't bear the thought of one more game of hide-and-seek.
We are not awful.
I do feel guilty sometimes for my hatred of trains. I think back to how this is the kind of thing I imagined doing with my future child when I was trying to have a baby: Rolling trains back and forth while cookies we just made together baked in the oven.
But in parenthood, nothing is what you think it will be. When I found out I was pregnant, my biggest fear was getting up in the middle of the night to feed the baby. It turned out I didn't mind those quiet night feedings at all. But the image I had of us playing trains and baking cookies now sounds awful to me. Baking with a toddler? You mean spending 45 minutes cleaning flour off every surface in your kitchen while you eat lumpy cookies laced with snot? No thanks.
No matter what people on the street exclaim as you walk by with a stroller, you can't possibly cherish every moment.
There are so many of them. And while I personally hate playing with trains, it is still magical to watch my son, the tiny train enthusiast, find so much joy in pushing around various engines. Today it is trains. One day it will be me nodding blankly along while he explains the rules of some video game. Then nodding while he plays me a band that just sounds like noise. But as long as he keeps sharing what he loves with me, I'll keep being Percy. I just wish I could do it from the couch.