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Bring on the Brio

When we decided to buy a large Brio train set this holiday season, it wasn’t triggered by any great sense of nostalgia. Day in and day out, we watch children interacting with the Brio train table in our play area, and we’ve seen firsthand how enticing it is for kids in a surprisingly broad age range. So, we moved our coffee table and replaced it with a Nilo table. Then we splurged on the biggest set of Brio in the store, a 96-piece behemoth in an enormous red trunk.

When it came to laying out the track, some key spousal differences bubbled to the surface. I scrutinized the photo on the box and tried to replicate it, while my husband started putting down track, willy-nilly. I reasoned with him. There were only so many ways that these 96 pieces could fit together and maximize the fun. Surely the smart people at Brio had found and published that ultimate layout. He said I was stifling his creativity, but he relented all the same. While we worked, our children played contentedly in the large red trunk and the almost equally large cardboard box that had contained all the pieces.

When we were done, we plucked our children from their peek-a-boo games to reveal our masterpiece. They wanted to go back into the boxes. When we encouraged them to stay and check out the trains, the little one started tearing up the track. Horrified, we relinquished her to the cardboard and enjoyed having the train table all to ourselves. We’d forgotten how much fun Brio is, but I guess our kids will have to learn that for themselves. They’ll figure it out eventually.

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