My grandson Josh is a train freak. 'Thomas the Train' is his favourite toy. He has several of the other toy engines featured on the show as well. In the weeks leading up to his fourth birthday, when I came home from work, he would meet me at the door and say, 'Paw Paw Mike? Thomas' birthday.' He was so excited, his speech impediment would become worse, and I would have trouble understanding him.
For his birthday, I decided to take him on a train ride. The train I picked runs from Jersey City to Newark. It takes about forty minutes to make the trip in one direction. I chose this train, because, for the first part of the trip, you are underground, then the remainder of the trip is spent above ground. Even better, you can get in the front car and look out the window at the tracks, as you roll over them.
Down in the subway, Josh saw the tracks. 'Fraks!',Paw Paw Mike!
'Fraks'! He would only take his eyes off the tracks when a train passed. We got on the front car of our train and walked to the front to stare out the window. I explained to the gentleman sitting there, 'This was my grandson Josh's birthday. He loves trains, and this ride is my birthday gift to him.'
The gentleman got up and let us have his seat by the front window. He could tell by the look on Josh's face that he was excited and decided to give him the seat as a present.
The train began to roll along. It made several stops underground, and then the part I was waiting for came. We blasted up out of the tunnel, and there in front of us were rows and rows of tracks and even a few trains parked on sidings.
Josh began to screech with delight. 'Paw Paw Mike - Fraks'! Look at the 'fraks'! Paw Paw! Look at the 'fraks'!
Then he saw the parked trains, 'PawPaw Mike'! 'wohoowohoo's'! Look! 'wohoo.' he squealed.
My little grandson stood in that window and would not take his eyes off all the tracks and trains. It was one those moments when you cannot stop smiling.
At Newark, we transferred to the returning train. Half way home, the train had to stop for a few minutes, until a train ahead had been switched to another rail. As we waited, the conductor of the train opened his door and saw Josh staring out the window.
'Hey, little man! How are you?' he asked.
I explained it was his birthday, his first time on a train, and that he was a big fan of trains. 'Come here then, Josh! I'll show you something.' He sat Josh in the conductor's seat and let him blow the horn.
Josh got back in my lap, a grin splitting his face, as the train continued its journey. At that moment I looked to the back of the car and saw a sea of smiling faces. Everyone was watching Josh and grinning.
Children give such a beautiful gift - innocence. Josh was yelling and squealing about the 'hoohoo's and fraks,' without a clue as to how he was affecting the other passengers. It was impossible not to smile. They all watched this little train fanatic, enjoying his first ride on a train. His pure innocent love for this ride was a beautiful thing to witness.
I have ridden that train many times and hardly ever saw a smiling face. People usually sit quietly, waiting to get to their destination. They read or stare straight ahead, ignoring their fellow travelers. Josh's unbridled joy made their trip special.
Josh is only four, but I doubt he will ever forget his first train ride with his 'PawPaw,' and I doubt many of our companions that day will forget it either. Josh taught us all a lesson. If we could only see things through the eyes of a child, see them new and fresh every time, life would be more interesting. If I ever feel bored over the things I see everyday, I am going to think of 'hoohoo's' and 'fraks,' and remember to see it through the eyes of a child.
Keep on waving!