A few years ago when one could not possibly enter a theatre without seeing Will Smith’s name plastered everywhere, he was asked what the “magic formula” was to his successful career in film. Creatures and special effects, he answered rather frankly.
Ask me what the magic formula is to a successful boys’ toy franchise theme, and I’d answer without a moment’s hesitation: talking vehicles. For my exceedingly stubborn almost three-year-old, the best bribe for toilet training thus far has been a promise to show the Thomas the Tank Engine episodes on TV featuring talking trains in the island of Sodor. (He gets very little TV time otherwise.)
Getting him to start using his little training potty was one thing but getting rid of the diaper altogether was another. Then I found a new weapon in Little Bus Tayo (꼬마 버스 “타요”) – a Korean Kids’ animation series featuring talking buses with their daily adventures on the streets of Seoul. It all began with a couple of jigsaw puzzle boards that my uncle had sent him from Korea. A picture of a big blue bus with a friendly face and a wink was an instant hit with my toddler. I went online and found a large number of the actual TV shows streamed on YouTube. With the added bonus of these being another tool to expose my half-Korean toddler to the Korean language, I am grateful for the success these chummy and chatty buses brought to our toilet training efforts.
Bribing a toddler with TV shows may not be part of any respectful child-rearing books, but in some roundabout way, I may be just letting nature take its course. You see, despite never having introduced my little boy to like wheels, his very first word was “car”. I suppose boys will be boys. The appeal of talking vehicles, whether in Korean or in English, buses or trains, seems universal beyond the rims of the Pacific ocean.
(These episodes also come in English for those who want to check it out.)