In early August we spent two weeks in California, with my sister and her family, staying with my parents in the house where I grew up. When my sister and I were young, my Dad bought an electric train. It didn't make much of an impression on us.
Roan is obsessed with it. Every time we Skype he wants to see it. He talks to my father about it constantly, and asks him to send photos if it. To prepare for our stay my dad set it up in his bedroom, on the carpet so if Roan dropped it or knocked it down it wouldn't break (which happened the last time we were in town and Roan dropped it on the hardwood floor). There is a black steam engine with a light and a funnel that puffs steam, a coal car, a box car, a flat car, and a red caboose. It's a delicate operation - all the tracks have to be connected just so, the many wheels of each car angled just right, and the wires clipped in to their outlets, and then, maybe, the thing will turn on.
Roan spent the majority of our vacation in my parents' bedroom, playing with the train, while my dad assisted. It was an exclusive club and no one else was welcome, especially not pesky mothers trying to enforce such banalities as the brushing of teeth, the changing of diapers, or the eating of lunch. Zachary, Roan's 9-month-old cousin, desperately wanted in. He wasn't allowed. But after some nagging from my sister and some prolonged screaming from Zachary he was finally admitted, as long as he didn't touch the train. After some negotiations, he was content to sit with a backpack full of tools and rummage through them while Roan played engineer. Every time the train got derailed, or overheated, or a car was uncoupled, or Zach broke through defenses to uproot a section of track or have his meaty fist run over, my dad was there to put things right.
They literally spent hours in there, uninterrupted, my father and his two grandsons, and a finicky, 30-year-old electric train. The air in Boys Club felt dry and staticky, and after a few days a strange smell pervaded the room, overpowering even my mother's prodigious scented lotion collection. It smelled as if something had just been electrocuted.
When my dad had to work Boys Club was closed and we went to the beach. It was great to get to know Zachary and see my sister as a mom. It was especially great to see Roan develop affection for his little cousin, and get used to sharing time and occasionally have his stuff destroyed. Frequently heard phrases were: "mine, baby Zach, mine!" and "no baby Zach, you're too little," or "no baby Zach, that's too hot." But he did a decent job of sharing. Here he is at a street fair, feeding baby Zach some of his ice cream:
Another angle, where you can see April and Roscoe in the background:
And he graciously shared Roscoe's red wagon with Zach:
And some smoothie:
I regret that I don't have any photos of Boys Club. But perhaps that would violate the spirit of Boys Club, a place where boys can escape the distractions of daily life and funnel all their energy into a singular pursuit.