The Preschool Express

This post is destined to be a few poorly composed and poorly focused phone-camera snaps that might, on first glance, leave people wondering why on earth I’ve bothered to share them. But to me, they represent something big. They represent a moment of our week that has been an absolute staple, week-in, week-out, but which now, sadly, will be no more. And while it may seem unfathomable now that I could forget, I know that human memories are deeply fallible. So whilst the pictures may not be Pintrest-worthy, or or any way aesthetically pleasing, they and their accompanying story are important to us because they detail something that I don’t want to risk not remembering.

For the last three-and-a-bit years I’ve been walking to work with a little detour, to drop Thomas at his nursery. To begin with, Thomas sat in his pushchair, kicking his legs with glee at all that he could see. Later he’d hop in and out of the pushchair depending on how tired he was (or how much of a hurry I was in). There would be ritual demands to stop as we passed the station, in order to watch the trains. We’d have to wait at the Pelican crossing until Thomas could be the one to push the button, and then he’d jump up and down with excitement at the appearance of the green man. Then, for the last nine months or so, since we’ve ditched our pushchair, Thomas has walked raced at top speed there and back. And predictably we’ve been organised in to a train formation for the journey.

There have been stops off at convenient lamp-posts in order to “fill up” with (imaginary) coal or water. We’ve had to stop at the steam works numerous times to “fix” Thomas. And woe betide us if we aren’t in the right order (Daddy is the tender, Mummy is the coach. Until we lose Daddy at the station, then we become a Southeastern electric train!) And if we aren’t following the “tracks” on the path (the lines where the path has been previously dug up for cabling to everyone else, but definitely “tracks” to Thomas) we’ll be told in no uncertain terms that “trains can’t go on the road”.




The evening walk home was the opposite in reverse. Once I regained my driving licence last year, Thomas took to asking with trepidation when I picked him up if I had the car, and insisting that he wanted to talk, come rain or shine. He gathered a collection of admirers at the pub around the corner from nursery. The same group of people who would often be outside smoking and would cheer as they saw him race around the corner, pumping his “pistons” and tooting his “whistle” with me in hot pursuit, struggling with multiple bags and his latest artwork offerings flapping in my hand.

As of next week, it’s all change.

There will be no more preschool express train.

Thomas’s new preschool is located just under a mile away at the wrong end of town for my work. In order to get him there in time and myself in to work by 8.15, I’ll have no choice but to drive him there (and yes, I know this is neither environmentally friendly, nor particularly healthy for my son, but needs must.)

I will miss these moments in our day, now matter how foolish I may look as the back end of a train, all whilst trying to instill road safety advice and consideration for other pedestrians. I’ll miss the times where I can barely keep up equally as much as the times that I have to keep encouraging a dawdling child to continue moving in the right direction. I’ll miss him popping out of the bus shelter shouting “boo” when I’m lagging behind.

But next year, once Thomas starts full time school, I’ll have the time to walk him there twice a week. Maybe, just maybe, he won’t yet have lost his passion for “being a train”and we’ll once again be able to reinstate this very ordinary moment in our lives.


mummy daddy me

7 Replies to “The Preschool Express”

  1. They have such amazing imaginations, don’t they! I can’t wait for my little man to reach this stage.

    I remember doing similar things with my brother when we used to walk to school; using the lines on the pavement to either hopscotch or be trains. We used to be convinced that the streetlights that had the timers in them, and therefore ticked, had bombs in them and if we didn’t get between them in time they would blow up! I’ve no idea where we got that thought from!

    1. It is definitely a fantastic age… But then they all are in their own ways! It’s so lovely that you remember these kinds of things from your childhood. I know I have lots of memories too, but I’m still afraid of forgetting little routines like this!

  2. Oh I do hope you find time to walk, I love the sound of his train walks, it’s such a lovely insight into his very vivid imagination. But maybe the car will turn out to be a special sort of train too?!

    1. I’m hoping that we can start some sort of new ritual with the car journey, but I’m mindful of not pushing it, because I’d rather it came from him in exactly the way that this has. I’m sure that there will stillbe plenty of “let’s be a train” as we walk elsewhere, it’s just sad that it won’t bookend my work days in the same way any longer.

  3. This made me feel a little emotional, they do have such fantastic imaginations and that’s a lovely little tradition to have together. Hopefully you will find a new one on the drive to the new preschool, I know that my girls and I chatter non stop on the way to nursery in the car. And I am sure the train imagination will be back the following year when he starts school! xx

    1. I really hope that we do have a new tradition, and that he doesn’t simply sulk because he’d rather be walking (a good problem to have, as I love that he’s so active, but we do have to use the car for some things!) I’m sure the train walks will persist on other walking journeys too.

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