When my son was a toddler, about 11 years ago, his favorite show was Thomas the Tank Engine. He was mesmerized by the colorful, talking trains. The show was somewhat entertaining too—I would smile at the parade of Mr. Conductors—Ringo Starr, Denny Dennison and George Carlin. I knew these men as musicians and a comedian respectively. Now my son associated them as teeny, tiny men in conductors’ uniforms.
My husband and I would search many a store for anything Thomas. I was confused by the lack of merchandise for such a popular children show. However, not a book, a plastic figure nor a fluffy beach towel could be found with cheery Thomas’ image. We couldn’t understand it—how could there not be any type of Thomas toy for us to buy our son?
Back then, there was a significant drought nowadays we are inundated with Thomas gear. It was ironic how we kept running into these items as we were Christmas shopping this year. Of course, our son has no interest in these things now—he has entered the threshold of teenagerdom. Seeing this shiny merchandise made me sad--regretting we weren’t able to provide these fun items to him back these years ago.
Thinking about it more, I realized that at the age of 3, he wouldn’t have the notion that he needed the corresponding toy to match his favorite TV show. At this tender age, he wasn’t motivated by merchandising-- he simply enjoyed the show. There was a lesson to be learned here. We hadn’t deprived him of anything-- in fact we probably help his imagination grow.