There is one rule for parenting:

If it works, go with it.

My son likes Thomas the Tank Engine. Not that surprising, he sits right on the cusp of their target demographic. He’s extremely territorial about his Thomas trains. I have ofttimes had my tranquility shattered by a screech from The Lad as The Lass dared to touch Toby or Hector or Thomas. If she touches one of the Aldi trains he doesn’t give two hoots, but woe betide any who touches his Thomas trains…

Recently we found a gem at the library. A DVD of the old Thomas TV series. It’s actually quite lovely. It is devoid of CGI, uses genuine model railroads and the dulcet tones of Ringo Star’s voice. In our house we refer to it as “Thomas Old School” and it is much preferred to the animated characterless pastel coloured thing on TV these days.

The other day I got into character as he was playing, and what better character for me to play than “The Fat Controller”. So I put on my crummiest Liverpudlian accent and started to give The Lad directions. And he did EVERYTHING I asked of him. Punctually, politely and thoroughly. My son was a really useful engine.

Then it was dinner time. My son is alergic to the word dinner. Sends him into a fit of hysterics. “I DON’T LIKE DINNER!!!!!” he explains at a piercing 20 bazillion decibel when he hears the word so much as whispered.

So out came the imitation Beatles drummer voice “Lad, it’s time to put the trains back in the shed and get ready for your dinner!”.

And it worked.

For the love of all that is holy, it actually worked.

You probably don’t get this, but NOTHING WORKS. It was like discovering a superpower.

We gave the trains a kiss goodnight, put them back in their basket (which is now known as Tidmouth Sheds) and he even tied up his other toys, provided the fat controller asked him. Duplo, the jack-in-the-box, soft toys. They were all put away without protest at the behest of Sir Topham Hat.

Why didn’t this occur to me earlier? Probably because it’s slightly absurd, a little disturbing and very slightly insulting (I know I could stand to drop a few stone, but I’m not THAT fat).

But it works.

So I’m going with it.

The Fat Controller has been with us for a couple of days now. I’m sure he’ll run out of puff soon, but for now he’s doing a good job.

The next phase is for me to get out my Top Hat if it stops working….


Wish me luck.

Have you ever found a magic trick that’s solved issues in your house, even if only for a little while? Have you assumed a character?