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"Words of Wisdom"

A Small Start can have Huge Consequences

Whatever it was, "The First Time” stays with you, the rest of your life. The same rule applies to one's first introduction to the model railroad. Many starter sets, sadly enough, are most of the time rather more an obstacle than a promoter. The perpetual circular motion of the trajectory often causes a premature end to this wonderful hobby. "Closed due to Boredom”. Sometimes Forever. What is left over is frustration, at both the receiver's and the giver's side, even though it was meant well from each and all. It is important to start this hobby the right way. Therefore consider a couple of things.

When you buy that first start set, ensure that, what you buy, serves the receiver's needs. At first site, starter sets might seem all alike, but many of them have different entertainment qualities. If it is bought for the (grand) kids you might want to consider taking them to casually see the set at first. The great thing about kids is, that they are quite outspoken about their tastes. 

Now-a-days competition in the toy world is huge, to say the least. Many starter sets have already extended digital capabilities. Understanding these completely, might even be a challenge for parents themselves. Give yourself some research time. You could very well be giving your (grand) kids  "A hobby to last a Lifetime"

When you add a starter set, ensure that you have the right pieces to truly extend the existing layout. Extension sets are often made to fit one certain situation. Try to stick to that scenario. Do not overload the track with rolling stock. Trains need to have the space to run.

Play with your kids. Especially in the early stages. Play with them, build with them, think along with them, but keep one thing clearly in mind: allow them the controls. If you find yourself at the knobs most of the time, do yourself a huge favor: buy your own set of controls. Possibilities in digital model rail- roading are unlimited therefore use them. Teach them theme's, safety as well as the purpose of  rail travel, passenger and cargo. Build landscapes and add accessories that can capture their dreams even if that means that your expensive chess set becomes the passenger supply for the young stationmaster. Let them combine all their other toys as they see fit. Remember, you can always clear them off once they have gone to bed, and you satisfy your own model railroad pleasures. Just don't forget to put them back.

In today's society kids are accustomed to the computer. In many cases they are more capable than our own parents, with regards to computers that is. So, incorporate their knowledge. Use the home computer and have them expand their play capabilities. They play Nintendo better than most of us, so a complex layout with extensive timetable won't scare them away. In the contrary: they will love it. It will be a challenge for them. Let them feast on these unlimited possibilities. In the meantime you can occupy your time building "your own model kit" for evening use. They will let you know when and how the train rolls in the station.

Of course I would not want to discourage them from building their own accessories. Here again I would like to stress the importance of letting them evolve gradually. Let them glue the roof to the bottom of the house. Experience is in most cases the best (and only) way to learn. Guidance is very successful after a guarded experimental fantasy project. It might lead to a successful architectural design career.  Just make sure they don't superglue themselves permanently to the layout.

Above all, don't get to serious with your kids at play. They have an undisturbed relationship with their toys. They still posses the innocence, the fantasy we often long for. They are not yet limited by adult logic and/or  responsibility. They live in their own world. One where the possibilities are truly without limit. Where life revolves around toys. The life we only look back upon with a hidden, strong desire to relive. So don't get upset when your youngster does a crash test with your beloved Borsig. Don't come unglued when you find out that your son has decided to build a 60% grade where the object for the passenger train is, to jump the river (Donald Duck included). Most decoders don't like this treatment. Remember: It's not the end of the world. Only your pocketbook. Enjoy every minute, they'll never forget.

Even although it's tempting, let them have those controls. Empower them. There is nothing more frustrating to a child. If you don't, all they are left with, is watching you. The ensured way to Boredom. Do yourself and your kid(s) a favor: buy a digital starter set and all will be satisfied. Don't think that you won't end up playing with it, because you will. Do not kid yourself!

Think beyond today. Don't buy everything at once. Dreams must stay. It is the only way to longevity. Good planning is part of the process. Even if you do this for yourself. Leave some imagination in place. A model layout can grow with age and in years to come. Focus on making the right choice for either your kids, and/or yourself. Choose the scale, system and brand that suits either one or both/all of you the best. Inform friends of your/your kid(s) hobby so that they can easily be a part of it too: birthday, X-mas present, graduation, etc. Once again remember:  you could be starting
"A hobby to last a Lifetime" for which they might be grateful the rest of their live,