Monday, November 21, 2011

A very useful engine

If you have a toddler boy chances are you know this shifty character above.  He's none other than Thomas the Tank Engine.  He and his friends have taken over our house and during the latest bout of the plague that has gone through our house he's been a source of comfort, both on the TV and in our "action figure" form.  (Seriously the diapers gone through in the last week...I just don't want to talk about it).

And 95% of me has no problem with Thomas and his train cohorts.  Oh sure, Sir Topham Hatt gives me the creeps, but mostly the lessons are about sharing, helping, caring, etc.  But there is one major issue I've discovered I have with it.

Each and every train is striving to be a really useful engine.  In fact they work on it so far that they seek to be the MOST useful engine on the island.

Now there is nothing wrong with being "useful" in a train world.  That is what trains are built for, but as we antrhopomorphize them I wonder what message we are sending our kids.  So much of my current issues with depression seem to gather around my percieved expectations as a wife, mother, employee, and citizen.  I struggled with not doing enough of what I feel I ought to be doing.  There is just too much.  And how common is it for us to feel that we are not good enough at parenthood, or work, or cleaning, or anything.  I contribute to society's message that I ought to be doing it all as a mother.  I really want to be a "useful engine."

But the reality is that I would much rather be known as a kind engine, a loved and loving engine, a gracious and grateful engine, a giving engine.  Those are much more important than being useful.

Now my son doesn't seem to pick up on this as he's too busy pointing out TUNNELS, GORDON, TRACKS, etc... but I notice it.  And I'm not sure I buy that being useful is the best way to define even a train. 

Reading too much into a cartoon?  Probaby.  But gosh darn it, I think there are more important things than being useful.


Valerie said...

Ok, it's been a LONG time since I last saw Thomas, but from what I remember, Thomas was liked because he was kind, caring, AND useful. I think the point is that being kind and caring can only take you so far. You have to do some work too.

I will completely agree with you on one thing, though. There is way too much pressure from society to be perfect. I wish I was one of those women who could work all day, clean the house, keep up a workout routine, AND have dinner on the table by the time the hubby gets home. I'm not, and I don't really know anyone who is. I keep hoping that someday someone will change the daily hours so that each day is 36 hours long. This would work out much better for me.

jimbassman said...

Don't worry. You ARE a kind engine, a loved and loving engine, a gracious and grateful engine, a giving engine!

Marie said...

Oh, my goodness, this post has me in hysterics. We go through the exact same things with Thomas.

"...he's the really useful engine, that we adore, he's the one, he's the number one, oh, Thomas the Tank Engine."

Better than Barney, I suppose.

Casey@LoveWhatIs said...

I totally agree with you. It's been a long time since we watched Thomas (partially for that reason). We tend toward things like Little Einsteins and Backyardigans.