A Load of Fun

It was still cold the day I noticed that in spite of an unyielding winter determined to wear out its welcome, the local hardware store had taken a leap of faith by filling its storefront and walkway with a grand display of all things summer. I saw birdbaths, a gleaming row of new lawnmowers, and a stack of wading pools depicting smiling cartoon elephants spraying water on laughing cartoon hippos. Closest to the sidewalk was a row of huge, bright red wheelbarrows with glossy black wheels, price tags swinging in the still chilly breeze.

As I hurried past the hopeful display and on to the grocery store one building over, I passed a small boy waiting for his father who was busy admiring an array of shiny new grills. The father turned to catch up to his son who had stopped at the row of red wheelbarrows. With both of his little hands gripping the side of one wheelbarrow, the boy stood on his tiptoes to peer over the edge.

“It’s a toy?” he asked into the empty wheelbarrow.

“No.” the father said as he took the boy’s hand to lead him into the hardware store. “You only use that for work.”

“It’s a toy.” the boy said with conviction.

“No, it’s not.” the father repeated. “It’s only for work.”

“No, it’s not.” I thought to myself. “It’s not only for work.”

One of my earliest childhood memories is of my grandmother, Nannie, helping me and a cousin into her wheelbarrow for a ride. She pushed us to the pear trees in the pasture where we helped her pick up fallen fruit. Riding back to her farmhouse in a pile of pears, we held on to the sides of the wheelbarrow during the bumpy ride and pretended we were on a boat. That was no wheelbarrow only for work. It was a toy.

As older kids, cousins and I took turns pushing each other in the random wheelbarrow that always leaned against Nannie’s barn, maybe the chicken house, or sometimes left under a tree. If lucky, we came across two wheelbarrows and races began. Those wheelbarrows were not only for work. They were cars or planes or motorcycles. They were toys.

My aunt Noody once gave me and my cousins a package of little plastic sailboats. Having nowhere to float them, we soon lost interest until Noody suddenly appeared with her old wheelbarrow. As we watched, puzzled, Noody unrolled her garden hose and filled the wheelbarrow with water. Instant lake! Her old wheelbarrow was not only for work. It was a toy.

Years passed and when my own two kids were small I spent as much time behind the wheelbarrow as I ever had inside the wheelbarrow. I pushed first one, then the other, but usually both at the same time. The wheelbarrow became a train, a rocket, and once it was a dinosaur they rode. The wheelbarrow was not only for work. It was a toy.

I was still thinking about these examples as I left the grocery store and headed back towards the summer display next door. As timing would have it, the little boy and his father were leaving the hardware store when I approached. As the father walked on ahead, the little boy lagged behind just a bit when he got to the wheelbarrow display. Once again, he gripped the side of a huge red wheelbarrow and craned his neck to peer over the edge.

The little boy looked up and grinned at me as I neared him. His little hands never let loose their grip on the edge, but one tiny finger rose up and pointed down into the wheelbarrow.

“It’s a toy?” he asked as I walked closer.

I leaned down just a bit as I reached where he stood.

“Yes, it’s a toy.” I said grinning as I walked past.

Stuart M. Perkins



Filed under funny, Humor, kids, toy, wheelbarrow

63 responses to “A Load of Fun

  1. Awesome, Stuart! Thanks!

  2. Oh, I really like this story!

  3. You tell the most endearing and delightful stories. Thank you. 🙂

  4. Yes, it is a toy. My younger sister and I spent many hours happily playing with/in a wheelbarrow! We also enjoyed an old metal barrel, which we turned on its side, stood on top and rolled it all over the “moon”.

    I am visiting my brother, here in his beautiful rural surrounding and guess what are blooming ? Beautiful Pear trees!

    Enjoyed your post!

  5. I loved this one Stuart! Reminds me of my little nephew Jacob who has always insisted since age two that our shovels are his toys as he plays at working in our gardens.Thank you.

  6. It IS a toy! Your story brought back a flood of summertime wheelbarrow memories! Thanks. 🙂

  7. Janet

    Love this! It was a toy on our farm as well! Thanks for reminding me.

  8. Reblogged this on It's All About the Journey and commented:
    A round of applause! Great story!

  9. Thank you for sharing this lovely story. I will remember it fondly as I haul load after load of dirt to build more gardens again this year. For the past two years, my wheelbarrow symbolized grueling, heavy work. This year, I will think of your story, and the work will become play.

  10. Another enjoyable story. Glad you’re back.

  11. pi314chron

    Good for you, Stu! Good for you. The little boy needed an adult…to show him that not ALL adults have forgotten the magic of play! An excellent post as always…definitely “Classic Stu!” Thanks for reminding US, too, that play is too much fun to be for children only. 🙂


  12. Stuart, you are such a delightful story teller. I have missed your voice, and am glad to read your poignant work again.

  13. Pat Doutt

    Enjoyed this, Stu. Have missed seeing your stories recently.

  14. I was just thinking the other day that I was missing your stories. Thanks so much for sharing your love of family, place, belonging that you share so beautifully.

  15. Your stories always tap a deep place inside me. This one makes me smile and remember similar times with my children. The fruitcakes made me sad, happy, and grateful as they reminded me of my dad. The antiques made me look at my home differently. I enjoy your writing.

  16. Almost everything is a toy. You just need to learn how to play first. 😛
    (well, some things are never toys. But only idiots can’t figure that one out!)

  17. What a delight to see this post Stuart, and then I read it and nearly wept with joy for the blessings you’ve experienced that have shaped you & your life view. Would to God that every child on earth could have parents and grandparents that made the most of every opportunity to bring joy and love to their children. God bless you Stuart as you share those wonderful memories with us. Thanks:)

  18. Reblogged this on St Cuthbert's Oratory and commented:
    What we see is what we get!

  19. Thank you, Stuart, lovely story, skilfully told.

  20. Beautifully evocative, looking forward to the next one.

  21. greyzoned/angelsbark

    I love this story! What fond memories you have of wheelbarrows! I remember when I was a young kid, my parents threw a huge party with friends and neighbors. One of the party guests had a little too much to drink so they wheeled him home all the way to the end of the street in the wheelbarrow. Ours was also a taxi. 🙂 Thanks for the memory and a really great story!

  22. Gloria Depew

    This is great ! (as usual). Yep, everything’s a toy unless it is electrical or gas-powered or has a trigger with real bullets.

    I don’t have any memories of anyone hauling me around in a wheelbarrow, but this brought back a wonderful memory that I haven’t thought about in years. One fall, I was helping my dad rake pine needles and haul them to the compost heap (or other place in the corner of the yard, because I don’t know if you put a bunch of pine needles in a compost heap) — but anyway, my tuxedo cat, Chauncey, jumped up on the pile for one trip. Then I put him up there for all the others, and he loved it. Chauncey was my soul mate. He totally trusted me. I can’t imagine many other cats wanting to do that.


    Date: Sat, 15 Mar 2014 01:21:25 +0000 To: glojean424@msn.com

  23. DianeAP

    This is great. Yes – everything is a toy when you have imagination – and a better toy than some flimsy plastic one that has only one use. Thanks for bringing back great memories. I, too, have missed your blog. I look forward to seeing it more often now that spring is here to evoke memories. Thanks.

  24. Thank you for posting such a lovely story! You reminded me of my childhood; we would take rides as our grandfather or father pushed the wheelbarrow to the garden. Later, my own children delighted in the joy of riding in the old wheelbarrow as I pushed them to the gardens.
    Glad you’re “back!” “Love” your writing!

  25. adventuresofadiyduo

    Perfect 🙂

  26. Shawn (Pseudonym: Marguerite Muffinbauer)

    Wow – I had completely forgotten about riding around in the wheelbarrow as a kid – and how much fun it was to “dump out” the rider. He he. Great story.

  27. tellthetruth1

    It’s always a fantastic punchline you give at the end of a story, and this latest is one of your best, 🙂

  28. Ha – I agree. Wheelbarrows (and hand trucks) always made for good toys!

  29. So delightful. I felt sorry for the little boy who wanted that wheelbarrow to be a toy. Your descriptions of your experiences with your Nannie’s wheelbarrows is priceless. Thanks for this lovely glimpse into your happy past.

  30. liamiman

    I always look forward to your stories. I’d been missing them since I hadn’t heard from you in a while. but I realize you write only when you have something to say. Wish more bloggers were like that.

  31. Laurie Jarratt

    You’re awesome.

  32. billiamholt

    You are able to conjure memories like some kind of linguistic sorcerer! Beautiful piece!

  33. Good for you, Stuart Perkins! It’s a toy. Anything can be a toy seen through the eyes of delight and the heart of imagination. I love wheelbarrows. My husband gave all four of our sons rides when they were young. They all loved our “slash and burn” days which found them outdoors, helping with raking, pulling weeds, cutting branches and always-always running around. Thanks for the memories. :))

  34. Oh, I’m so glad he was heard. I was holding my metaphorical breath for him.

  35. In the grand scheme of things a wheelbarrow is (as evidenced by all the great comments above) both. Wonderfully fun & imagination inspiring post.

  36. I love your story. Yes life can be serious but we should make time for fun! I remember being wheeled around with my sister in Dad’s wheelbarrow, it was great fun! The wheel barrow now sits proudly in his garden full of brightly coloured tumbling summer flowers or daffodils and tulips in spring. 🙂

  37. Yes, it is a toy. Thanks for your story. It reminded me of childhood wheelbarrow rides. Such sweet memories. 🙂

  38. Thanks so much for sharing this story. It brings back lots of memories from my childhood as well as times spent with my own kids, sometimes with the “adult” wheelbarrow and sometime them with their own alongside mine. Yes, it is a toy!

  39. Great story! Thank you for visiting my blog. News of your loss moves me to wish you only fond memories and a silver lined cloud where they may keep. Write on!

  40. As a grownup now, who as a kid used most anything I could find to create something to play with I really love your story, “It’s a Toy.” – Josephf14

  41. In the imagination of a child, so many objects including those that represent work,to adults, become an adventure. May we always have that zest for fun in our lives!

  42. alex

    Lovely story. I couldn’t agree more about the wheelbarrow,really enjoyed this.

  43. Reminds me of my father getting a pair of metal ramps for pulling a car up a foot or so so it could be worked on more easily. When it was brand-new, though, before it’d got car debris or grease or whatnot on it, we were allowed to have it in the living room and stand on them and drive toy cars up them and that sort of thing.

  44. Read. Take a deep breath. Smile.

  45. Reblogged this on Life with My Two Girls and commented:
    Work can be fun – family fun! Love this post.

  46. Even as an adult, I have never laughed so hard in my life as I did being pushed around super fast in a wheelbarrow! I’m so glad you got to connect with that child and affirm the toy status of a wheelbarrow!

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