With just a few short weeks until Christmas (four, to be exact) parents around the country are struggling to figure out youngster-speak. It's a little aggravating to give your child a blank slate as far as asking for stuff – the world is their oyster! – and receive a totally incomprehensible response. “Wing puppy fly!” they say. “I want the wheelie box rainbow!”

Huh?

Decoding what your kids want for Christmas (because sometimes the requests are as vague as, "wing puppy fly" or "Thomas jump!"

If Santa can't understand what the kiddos are asking for, he won't know what to leave by the fireplace. That's no good for anyone.

Boy playing with Thomas the Train track barrel

I know this because last year, Santa was waaaay off-the-mark in our house. I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but Santa somehow managed to screw up the one thing that Some Boy kept asking for. The kid was a good sport about it, but he has a memory like a steel trap and I honestly think it's impeded his whole Santa-trust-relationship. Now, he won't go anywhere near the big guy's lap and pretty much wants nothing to do with the elf situation at all.

I have to say, I think Santa learned an important lesson.

This year, we took a practice run with the whole gift-decoding thing. Sidekick, Minion and Bam all have birthdays the month leading into Christmas so we went ahead and took them to the store and walked them around, taking pictures of all the stuff they seemed drawn to. Suddenly, their weird phrases like, “Red building tumble” started to take on actual meaning.

Preschooler playing with Trackmaster set

For Sidekick, it was a train track. He kept saying over and over and over again that he wanted the, “Jump toy” and “Thomas jump!” We could pretty much assume he meant Thomas the Train, but that narrowed his birthday gift selection down to about fifty-thousand Thomas-themed items. Which Thomas was the coveted jumping Thomas???

Turns out, it was the Thomas & Friends Sky-High Bridge Jump. With that mystery solved thanks to a walk through the mall toy store, we went ahead and brought the 8-foot-long track set home for him to fawn over. We don't usually go THIS BIG for birthdays, but the kid's been a huge trooper in the midst of the new baby and everything, and all of the boys really deserved a special day immersed in Thomas-land.

5-year-old putting together Thomas & Friend Sky-High Bridge Jump toy

What's really fun about the 18-month-to-2-year age gaps between our kids is that you can really feel the learning taking place. Some Boy, our five-year-old, led the charge to put the track together and seemed to instinctively know how to get Thomas rolling down the tracks. I kept explaining that Thomas is battery-operated and will actually make his way around the entire track without assistance, but both of our big boys are very hands-on. They wanted to turn Thomas off and push him manually through the Island of Sodor, watching him ascend the tower and jump his way two feet across the bridge.

Making Thomas jump over the bridge on the Trackmaster set

I guess that's another one of those child-adult differences. I'm happy to sit and watch and see the toy as a sort of ornamental entertainment piece for the holidays (it has a sizable footprint in our living room now, so I may as well embrace it) whereas the kids view it as their own micro Thomas-world where they call the shots.

5-year-old playing with Thomas the Train set

I may even help Santa out and fill their Christmas with some guaranteed-hit gifts like Thomas & Friends The Great Race DVD, which was the inspiration for the toy.

Brother playing together with Thomas the Train

It'll be a fun turn of events for me to be the one schooling the kids on toys…instead of vice-versa.

What toys are your kids begging for this season? Have you had a hard time understanding any of their requests?

This #WhenYouGiveThomas post was sponsored by Megan Media and Mattel. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.