The word Boundaries conjures up all sorts of ideas in my head. The obvious are fences, hedgerows and walls round private property or land, to define ownership and maintain privacy. Then there are those railings around parks and public buildings to regulate or restrict access. Some boundaries are essential for security such as round airports, government or military buildings. Then there are the barriers around areas of danger, like deep water, rock falls or steep cliffs. These would all provide super subjects for this week’s photo challenge.
But, having looked through my photos I selected an emotive photo of my little grandson standing by the boundary fence at a recent steam railway event. He could easily squeeze through the gap provided by the missing paling, but of course he doesn’t, because, at the age of 2, he already setting himself personal boundaries.
The object of his interest is Thomas the tank Engine, which, although it is incredibly old fashioned, seems to appeal to most children, and especially little boys or children on the autistic spectrum.
The stories of Thomas and his friends were actually published 70 years ago in 1945 under the title of The Three Railway Engines, and Thomas wasn’t even in the first book. It was about Edward, Henry and Gordon. Thomas didn’t come in until the end of book two. If you are really interested in the history of Thomas I recommend this site, pegnsean
I spend a great deal of time with my grandchildren and I have been through the Thomas phase a couple of times. Personally, as an adult, I prefer Chuggington with its exciting storylines and more contemporary language. But I can see the appeal of Thomas for very young children. The island of Sodor, where Thomas lives and works, is an idyllic setting, safe and stable, where nothing much changes. Whenever problems arise the little engines sort everything out slowly and surely with hard work and co-operation. This is reassuring for children making them feel safe and comfortable.
There is something about Thomas as a character too that is deeply comfortable. It could be the chubby cheeks or the big eyes. He just looks like the archetypical train engine.
Children when asked to draw a house will draw a rather square box with a chimney, windows and a door, whether they live in a semi or a flat. I read that a recent survey found when children were asked to draw a train, 95 per cent of them drew a steam train! This is surprising when trains these days are so different. Virgin Trains are running a competition at the moment to design a Christmas Train. I do wonder how many of the entries will feature a steam chimney or funnel!