Last Sunday we took Max to a small, free railroad museum in Conneaut, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border. As you may or may not be aware, Max is currently obsessed with choo-choos. Obsessed. I suppose this is fairly normal for a 27 month-old boy. Needless to say, Max devoured the museum. There was so much for him to take in that he almost overloaded: An expansive HO-scale landscape with several operating trains; a full-sized, decommissioned steam locomotive; all sorts of old railroad artifacts (signal lights, signs, train parts, etc.); it was pretty impressive for a little non-profit museum.

The kid is so cute I can’t stand it. We bought a copy of the book The Little Red Caboose at the museum; Max pointed at it and said “-boofth” (his attempt at caboose). Rose corrected him: “No, Max, it’s CA-boose. The Little Red Caboose.” Max tried again: “Ca-ca ... R-E ... boofth.” Interpretation: “Ca-red-boose”. Max doesn’t say “red”, he spells it, sometimes “R-E” and sometimes “R-E-D”. In this case he put the adjective inside the word. “Ca-ca ... R-E-D ... boofth”. How inventive...

The museum is housed in an old (early 20th Century) train station, directly adjacent to still-active railroad tracks. Near the end of our visit we heard a (real) train coming, so naturally we thought Max would want a front-row seat. What we didn’t understand (or perhaps temporarily forgot, in our excitement) is just how intense standing 30 feet away from a locomotive traveling 50 MPH can be. Rose and I each covered one of Max’s ears (I was holding him); but it was still very loud and the rumbling of the train shook the ground and our bodies.

Max was scared by the train and was holding onto me very tightly, trembling, but he stood his ground and he watched that train head-on. I said, “Max that sure is a big loud train, isn’t it?” He replied, his voice wavering--on the verge of crying, “Ya!”

But he didn’t cry, and he didn’t turn away. He was so brave, our little boy. I was so proud of him!

The next day, I happened to see this quote, and I couldn’t help but think of Max: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear--not absence of fear” (Mark Twain).

My brave boy.
Happy birthday Grandpa.