My kids have outgrown it by now, but for a few years there our household was swimming in Thomas the Tank Engine videos and toys, and I could tell you the name, color, function, and personality of every engine on picturesque Sodor, and so could my wife and kids. I was amazed by that — and am now equally amazed at how quickly (and mercifully!) it has all faded from memory.
I wrote the following at the peak of our Thomasmania and dedicate it to all parents of Thomas-obsessed toddlers who think this phase will never end. It will.
It was a beautiful day on the island of Sodor. [Engine X] was very excited — today was the day of [an annual celebration or completion of a major construction milestone]. As [Engine X] chattered about it with the other engines in the shed, Sir Topham Hatt came to see him.
“[Engine X],” he said, “today I have an important job for you. You must ferry the [children, celebrants, performers, or party goods] to the [celebration].”
“Oh my,” said [Engine Y] to [Engine X]. “That means you’ll have to [traverse a notoriously tricky section of track]. Be sure to [travel at an appropriate speed].”
“I’m sure I always do,” sniffed Gordon.
On his way to [yet another among tiny Sodor’s impossibly many stations], [Engine X] grew more and more excited and started to sing a happy song. “Oh, I’m going to pick up the [children, celebrants, performers, or party goods],” he sang as he chuffed along. He was having so much fun that he forgot all about [traveling at an appropriate speed]. Closer and closer loomed the [notoriously tricky section of track] until, all of a sudden–!
(Here [Engine X] makes an off-track excursion and causes property damage.)
Fortunately, no one was hurt. A short time later, Sir Topham Hatt arrived. He was very cross. “[Engine X], you were not paying attention. You have caused confusion and delay. I have asked [Engine Y] to take your place. You must go back to the shed for repairs.”
“I’m sorry,” said [Engine X]. He felt terrible. Not even jolly Harvey could cheer him up as he helped pull [Engine X] back onto the tracks. Now [Engine X] would not get to carry the [children, celebrants, performers, or party goods], and he wouldn’t even be able to attend the [celebration]!
On his way back to the shed, [Engine X] passed [Engine Y]. “Hi, [Engine X]!” called [Engine Y] cheerfully. “Hello,” replied [Engine X] glumly. As they passed, [Engine X] noticed [a condition with negative consequences for safety]. “I must alert [Engine Y, Sir Topham Hatt, or the switchman]!” thought [Engine X]. So he raced to [the celebration] and [averted a disaster].
Everyone cheered for [Engine X]! Sir Topham Hatt said, “You are a really useful engine.”
And he was.