It starts off innocently enough. Perhaps a basic starter set from Ikea for a few pounds. Fantastic! You'll find yourself creating fun, train-based adventures with or (admit it) without your 2 year old. Hours of good, clean fun.
But don’t be fooled - it never stops there. Oh no. Soon you'll be thinking, if only we had some extra track / a three-way junction / a set of bridge supports. So you google 'wooden train set'. And a whole new world opens up for you. You follow the links. Learning Curve, BigJigs… and then you find it. BRIO. Oh yes, this is the hard stuff. And you are hooked.
You find yourself up late at night, scouring the dark corners of the internet for bridge risers. Your elaborate track designs become works of art, complete with curving bridges and extravagant junction systems. You develop an unstoppable accessory habit. Engine sheds, coal loading docks, collapsing bridges. Not to mention the rolling stock.
Of course, your child, or should we say, ‘enabler’ has an important role to play in this. It’s useful to encourage an interest in Thomas the Tank Engine at an early age, as this brings a delightful symbiosis to the arrangement. All birthday, Christmas, and star chart incentive gifts are taken care of for the next few years. Giggling Troublesome Trucks? Done. Sodor Suspension bridge? Done. Quarry mine tunnel set? Done.
Inevitably your child develops their own ideas about all of this, and you find yourself pushed to one side. I’ll be honest with you - the withdrawal period is painful. You watch from another room as they happily spend hours creating track systems that you know are fundamentally flawed, but they resist even the slightest attempt on your part to intervene and correct their engineering. It hurts, but you know now that you have to step back.
In years to come you’ll look back on these times with giddy fondness. Did you take it too far at times? Who can say? We are all young
And when your children grow, what then? What do you do with all the fancy gear you’ve accumulated over the years of your BRIO habit?
No problem. Did no-one tell you? <whispers> You can sell it for a shitload on eBay!