Wyatt and I love trains. Or more specifically, Wyatt loves trains, and I love playing trains with him. Thanks mom and dad for thinking ahead and saving all my old toys.
One particular train set my parents saved is a Brio wooden train set. One bridge, one cross section, and just enough curves and straight tracks to build many satisfying routes, while challenging us to make the most of what we have. We recently discovered the joy of tunnels, and now we look for whatever little piece of furniture we can put over the tracks. Wyatt then stands on the ‘tunnel,’ gleefully directing me to make the train go forward, backward, or to stop.
Wyatt has never indicated that he would have even more fun if he had more train sets.
Recently, visiting a neighbor’s garage sale, my eye caught on a big tub with plastic tracks sticking out. I ambled over and found the motherlode: a whole tub of train sets. Wyatt came over too and latched on to a neat backhoe-train-car and began playing with it. I pulled out several different sections, assembled them, and said “Wyatt, isn’t that awesome?!” He looked up, smiled, and kept running the backhoe along the ground.
After a brief discussion with my wife and our neighbor, we decided not to buy the train set. However, our kind neighbor noticed how much Wyatt enjoyed the backhoe and was happy to give it to him as a gift. He was delighted!
I, however, was not delighted. For the next week, I secretly nurtured the hope that I would wander down there again, find the train set, and just buy it as a gift for Wyatt. He loves his wooden set so much; why wouldn’t having even more, be even better?
Then, one morning, as I’m rumbling this little thought around my mind (“More is better!”) and watching him play with his trains and new backhoe, it hits me: Wyatt clearly doesn’t think more would be better. Wyatt doesn’t believe he is suffering because he doesn’t have more toys. Wyatt is happy.
Somewhere along the line, I must have learned that more toys equals more fun, more enjoyment, more value, more love. My parents certainly didn’t teach me this – I don’t think anyone specifically, exactly taught me this. But I learned it. And now I was trying to pass that lesson on to my son.
I am not a dissatisfied person. My family is the joy of my life; my career is completely, undeniably satisfying and a blessing for others as well as myself; my community is a treasure. So I will not teach this little ‘lesson,’ this perversion of satisfaction, that more is always better, to my son. I will not teach him that he does not have all he needs, now, for his happiness and satisfaction.
Of course Wyatt would enjoy new toys, new books, new stuffed animals. There’s nothing wrong with that. He also loves new days, new dirt fields, new trips in the bike trailer, new hugs from mama and daddy (and his mama and daddy love new hugs from him). But he is perfectly satisfied with the good things already in his life, and he trusts that good will continue in his life. This is a lesson that Wyatt is teaching me. And this idea of more being better? I will un-learn this; actually, I think I have much more to learn from this sweet boy.
He’s just woken up, and it’s time to play with our trains again.