” I don’t know, I thought you had him!”
“You were watching him last!”
“So he’s lost”
We instantly split to search. This is a crisis of epic proportions. Luke is missing. Hasn’t been seen for hours. Parental stress and anxiety is reaching critical levels.
Some of you may be thinking ” I thought her kid’s name was Hugh, who on earth is Luke?” or alternatively “I thought she’d been putting on weight, must have had another baby”. Don’t worry, you haven’t missed anything. My son’s name is Hugh and the weight is mostly cake related but thanks for bringing it up!
Luke is not a child or person. He is a toy train. This toy train is an extremely obscure character who appears in a maximum of two episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine (trust me I’ve watched them all). He is about the size of a match box, maybe smaller and is camouflage green which helps him to disappear like a ghost under lounges, cots, in handbags or at the bottom of the toy box. We got Luke in a show bag and have never seen any other Luke merchandise available for sale. So Luke is basically irreplaceable. Tiny, dark, easily lost. He was also Hugh’s absolutely hands down favourite toy for a significant period of time.
When I say favourite toy this wasn’t a normal level of interest, this was full blown obsession. There were tearful departures at childcare, joyful reunions each evening and many an hour spent watching Luke’s more famous Thomas episode “Blue Mountain Mystery” or as Hugh calls it “Thomas Luke” together. Hugh was never long without his Luke, hence the absolute panic in the household when Tim and I realised that neither of us had been keeping tabs on this miniature locomotive that held the key to household sanity.
“Wan Luke Mumma”
“Mummy and Daddy are looking baby. Why don’t you play with Percy for a minute?”
“No. Wan Luke Mumma. Where’s Luke?”
Tim is investigating under the lounge and is preparing to move furniture.
I’m frantically emptying the content of my handbag on the lounge room floor. 2 dummy’s, half a muesli bar and 3 matchbox cars spill out but no tiny green train.
“Daddy, wan Luke”. Voice is wobbling, we are close to toddler meltdown.
Tim flings the cushions from the lounge in a last desperate bid and there, right in the very furthest nook and cranny, tucked down the back is bloody Luke. Order is returned.
Thomas the Tank Engine in general is an all consuming passion for Hugh. I do not exaggerate when I say Tim and I have watched every single episode of Thomas available on Stan, Netflix and ABC kids at LEAST 10 times each. And some of those are movie length episodes. I would not consider myself a massive fan but my knowledge of season 18 Thomas characters and episode features is verging on encyclopaedic. I can also recite the movies “Thomas Luke” (Blue Mountain Mystery), “Thomas Treasure” (Thomas and the Legend of the Lost Treasure) and “Thomas Hiro” (Thomas Hero of the Rails). Can’t remember where I put my keys 10 minutes ago but can give you the entire back story of most of the trains on Sodor at any given moment.
Luke and his scarcity made us nervous so we tried to diversify Hugh’s love of trains by buying a new character for him. We bought Henry – brighter green, not as small. Big wins for us but what would Hugh think? He enjoyed playing with Henry that afternoon and blew him a kiss goodnight when he went to bed.
We still bring Hugh into our bed when he wakes at 5am for half an hour of more sleep (supposedly) and the next morning was no exception. He lay quietly for about 20 minutes while I stroked his hair then flung his hands up, punching me in the face and sat bolt upright.
“Wan Henry Mumma. Find Henry”.
Henry came to childcare, Henry was sought out when he came home and poor Luke has not been spoken of since. Toddler love is so fickle. Henry was temporarily replaced by a much larger Thomas but that was annoying to carry to coffee shops so we downsized to a much smaller James.
The characters might change but the show hasn’t. Thomas is all consuming despite many attempts to lure him to other shows. They’d better release a new season soon or Tim and I might go insane. You’ll find us at home surrounded by tiny trains, the Apple TV remote and babbling about the benefits of being a “really useful engine” on the Fat Controller’s Railway.