Ancient History

Follow Me?


Big deal

A few months ago, I wrote about giving Flintstones vitamins to my kids. They had no clue who the Flintstones were and are still pretty shaky regarding those from the town of Bedrock.

The generation gap rages on.

Every American child was issued a Big Wheel by the federal government in the mid-1970s, including my husband and me. I remember long trains of neighborhood children riding their Big Wheels down the sidewalk. Often the bikes were tied together with jump ropes.

Our family’s Big Wheel met a tragic end when my younger sister rode down a rocky and uneven dirt hill next to our house and flipped end over end. This caused the front wheel to pop off and the steering wheel to crack. She didn’t cry, in typical-her fashion. Instead, she stood up, dusted off, picked up the pieces, opened the gate to our backyard, and slammed them down on the patio in disgust.

Bye, Big Wheel. By 1980, landfills from the Atlantic to the Pacific were clogged with black, red, blue, and yellow corroded plastic and we moved on to Jordache jeans.

Toy companies are wisely capitalizing on Gen-X childhood nostalgia. When we noticed Big Wheels are back, we had to get one. Joel was our chosen recipient, and Christmas would be the perfect time to pass the torch.

I wrapped the big box on Christmas Eve. My husband and I had a nice guffaw over the child model on the box wearing a HELMET. I’m all for helmets when skiing or riding a real bike, but for motoring the Big Wheel around on the back patio? Give me a break.

Joel was nearly faint with anticipation when he saw the large box next to the tree on Christmas morning. To a 5 year old, the more gargantuan the box, the better the gift. He ripped off the paper as the other kids crowded around. There was silence in the room.

“It’s a bike? A tricycle?”

“It’s a BIG WHEEL, guys! A BIG WHEEL!” we screeched with great indignity.

“Oh! Is it for riding?” Joel asked.

We assured him he would be riding it whether he wanted to or not because WE HAD BIG WHEELS AS KIDS, TOO! ISN’T THAT SPECIAL and YOU WILL HAVE FUN! Then we launched our personal Big Wheel memories—skidding out in gutters, busting holes in the hard back tires, Aunt Alison’s demolition, the moveable seat.

By mid-morning, when the wrapping paper dust had settled and I had harvested eight pieces of scotch tape from the bottoms of my bare feet, my husband put it together.

Joel rode it around inside the house, but had trouble getting good traction. We promised him it would be more fun outside on a rough surface. Beatrix took it for a spin, too, scooting with her feet.

It was motivation for him to get dressed.

Hatted, coated, booted, he climbed on and propelled himself across the patio. He pedaled backward, forward, in circles.


My parents arrived for dinner, so he came inside to visit. He likes his Big Wheel, despite early skeptimism. I probably like it more than he, which is okay. My memories and loves don’t have to be his, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t bring a thread of my childhood into my 21st century living room on December 25th.

Someday, he might find himself gushing over Thomas the Tank Engine’s Action Canyon to his own child.

I just hope the kid on the box playing with Thomas in a non-descript living room isn’t wearing a helmet.

15 comments to Big deal

  • edj

    A Big Wheel! Awesome! 🙂

    edj’s last blog post..Odds and Ends I Swept Up with the Dead Ants

  • I loved the roar of my brother’s big wheel (which I appropriated often due to being the older sister and all.)

    I had the same experience with my daughter who got an E-Z Bake oven. Although I knew I had gone to far when I saw her blank look when I told her how I had one when I was a kid and that is was a Hollie Hobbie oven…

    Bonnie’s last blog post..Flashback Friday

  • My daughter was not born until 1979, so in the early 70’s when Big Wheels were popular, we were newly married, young and hated the damn things. The neighborhood kids rode them around and they were SO NOISY. Especially on Saturday morning when we were trying so sleep late. By the time we had young children, they weren’t popular anymore and our kids rode tricycles.

    Now that they are back in style, we’ll have to get one for our grandson. And make the other young couples lay awake on Saturday morning!

    Mrs. Who’s last blog post..Try It Tuesday: Broth In A Box

  • Ah yes, I remember them well. My parents wouldn’t buy them for us either, because they hated the noise every Saturday morning too! I really had wished for one, but it was only a few years until I was old enough for a 2 wheeler, and too old for a Big Wheel, and I got over it.

    I’m glad your kids get to experience the fun this time around!

    Gretchen (the other other one!)’s last blog post..Some Pictures

  • ann

    I never got a REAL big wheel as a kid. My parents refused because the wheels were made out of plastic. Instead, I got a hugger. I think it was black and orange, and the frame was made out of metal. The wheels were made out of really hard rubber. It worked great, but I wanted a real big wheel like everyone else.

    ann’s last blog post..First Recital

  • I had the exact same reaction to the helmeted child on the Big Wheel box!

    ElleBee’s last blog post..Merry Christmas!

  • Fun! I think it’s funny how my girls have their own My Little Ponies that they play with, just like I did as a child.

    Merry Christmas!

    Melanie’s last blog post..Christmas At Our House

  • Crack me up. A helmet? Seriously?

    I’m glad he likes it.

    Heth’s last blog post..Hello Guitar Hero

  • FAB! I am so buying my little one a big wheel, well not yet, but when he can actually ride. Best Gift 2008 ~ I’m officially calling it now!

    Courtney from Mommie Blogs’s last blog post..remembering Christmas…

  • amy

    I gave J a fisher-price record player this Christmas — we found it on Ebay, although they might make them new too. Anyway, she was skeptical at first, but now she really loves it. I never had one, but WANTED one as a kid, so it’s special to me too.

  • So glad I’m not the only one who remembers running the Big Wheel into ditches. Maybe I’ll have to get one for my little one next year…

  • I am glad to have found your blog. I am just stopping by to let you know I linked to you in my 12/26 post, “…Blue Plate Specials.” It’s a Gen X roundup I do once or twice week.

    I am a Christian, too, and don’t find many Gen Xers out there who identify themselves as such. Ironically, I found another Gen X blogger this time around who is also a Christian. I link to her also in my post.

    I also wanted to say that I have three children and suffered at least two, if not three miscarriages. I think of those babies often. Your posts on loss really move me.

    JenX67’s last blog post..Best Blue Plate Special Ever: Generation X Memoirs and More

  • My brother and I used to burn through the wheels from going really fast, then braking hard and skidding. LOVED the Big Wheels. Fun fact: My brother called it a “Hot Weezer.” Heh heh. 🙂

    Minnesotamom’s last blog post..Behold, indeed!

  • I am slightly older than you and didn’t have a Big Wheel of my own, but do remember them (and I certainly had Jordache jeans!) Big Wheels have been around all along, just not very popular. Our now 16yo son had one when he was about 5, given to him by his grandparents, so that would have been 1997ish. The cool thing about them is they last (almost) forever! At least 10 years. Our current 5yo has one and it is new since his brother’s eventually fell into disrepair, after being steadily ridden by kids of all ages for the past 11 years.

    Paula’s last blog post..Is the New Blog Working?

  • I can totally see this happening to us. I didn’t actually know that one could still get a Big Wheel. And as soon as I started this post I was completely excited over the discovery. But yeah, I’m sure that while Hubby and I gushed over the awesomeness of the Big Wheel, there would be skepticism elsewhere. Probably won’t stop me from getting one for Sam in the near future though:)

    Beth – Total Mom Haircut’s last blog post..Resting, Relaxing, Taking a Break

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>