Eli has been having a good time lately watching "Thomas and Friends" on YouTube. He can do this pretty independently once I set him up. I just make sure I am in the room and that I can hear it, to make sure all the things he watches are appropriate. Believe it or not, there are people who think it is funny to post videos of the toy trains bursting into flames. Most of the videos we find are made by children and are completely child friendly. Watching other children play with and make up stories for their trains on YouTube has inspired lots of train playing in our house lately.
This has made me realize that we sure do have lots of the suckers in our home. There are 4 of the plastic battery operated trains, (Skarloey, Molly, Emily, Duck.) They have their own plastic track. There are also wooden trains, which include his first train, a Thomas that he got on his 2nd birthday. They have two tracks, (generic brands,) with more pieces than I care to count. There is also one small plastic track for the die cast trains. There are about twice as many die cast trains as there are wooden trains. That makes a lot of friends.
These toys really are not that cheap, and we were at the time trying to get through college while raising our boy with autism. Recently when I was trying to put my head around why we have so many, I realized that for awhile there, those trains were all Eli really cared about. He did not care a great deal about playing games with us or getting hugs. He did not care about Daddy coming home from work. He didn't really get excited over anything like that, but he sure got excited about looking at trains at the toy store and picking out one to take home. If the new train was not electric, it would also have a bath with him that night and go to bed with him. Although he was not equipped at the time to understand social things, Thomas trains made sense to him and gave him comfort. His play with them has evolved as he has grown in understanding of the world. Now as a five year old, he makes up simple conversations and stories to play out with his trains. He asks me, "Play with me, mom?" And my job is to "be" a train and play out his script with him. :)