Shannon Philpott-Sanders

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching, Parenting

Big Wheel Keep on Turnin’

100_0912As young children, we often live in the shadows of our siblings. We tend to tag along with the older ones, mimicking their likes and dislikes. We dote on the younger ones, trying to play mom while tending to their wants and needs.

As the middle child, clearly suffering from middle child syndrome, I always felt part of the gang but clearly suffered from an identity crisis. I was Dana’s younger sister. I was Molly’s older sister. I was the middle one, the only one without red hair. In reality, though, I just wanted to be Shannon.

During a cool, fall day in 1980, I claimed my identity, my independence, and launched the first of many adventures that sparked the growth of my stubborn and precocious personality.

While it is typical for children to act out, it was not naturally part of my character. I was the peacemaker. When little Molly wanted something, we ran and got it. When Molly whined, we pacified her. It wasn’t that Molly was a rotten child, but as the youngest, what Molly wanted, Molly got, at least in my 5-year old mind, that’s how it seemed.

However, when it came to my Big Wheel, I was possessive. I would spend hours riding this giant plastic construction from our cliff side backyard down the trail to our neighbor’s yard. Down the hill and back up again I would go, hour after hour. It was a joy ride unlike any other and it was all mine, until Molly whined.

I remember my mom telling me in a stern voice that Molly should get a turn. Molly, Molly, Molly, I thought. Why Molly? And then something triggered within me – defiance, anger, resentment. I didn’t want to share my Big Wheel, I didn’t want to share my fun, and I certainly didn’t want to watch Molly ride my path to freedom.

As Molly stood there, innocently waiting for me to surrender, I stepped off my Big Wheel and held my hand up for her to wait. I carefully lifted the blue plastic seat adjuster and put it in a closer set of holes. I remember my mom saying, “Oh, that is so nice of you, Shannon. Look, she’s adjusting the seat for Molly.”

But I had other plans. I looked back at my mom, glanced at Molly’s smiling face, planted my butt on the seat, and soared down that hill faster than I ever had before. The wind was blowing in my face as my mom yelled my name. I didn’t care, though. Something so wrong never felt so good.

It was a defining moment – a moment where, as a child, I chose to do the wrong thing. I chose to commit a selfish act. I chose to take a joy ride to claim my identity, my independence. I felt free, I felt mischievous, and more importantly, I felt that the consequences were clearly worth the satisfaction of the ride.

This day stands out in my mind because it was a turning point in my character. It was one of the first times I took a risk and then took responsibility for my actions. I don’t remember the punishment and I don’t think that I really even cared because for once, I was Shannon, the aggravator – someone with a clear identity.

Right or wrong, our actions make us stand out. Our actions help us grow. Our actions help us to gain independence and a sense of freedom. To this day, I’m still labeled by my family as the aggravator – a name I have earned. I’m not just Dana’s younger sister, Molly’s older sister, or the only brunette in the family. I’m Shannon with the Big Wheels that keep on turnin’.

Written as a narrative sample for my English 101 Composition Students, Fall Semester 2009


– Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: Sept. 10, 2009

 © Shannon Philpott, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shannon Philpott and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


September 10, 2009 - Posted by | Blog, Reflecting, Teaching | , , , ,


  1. I captured the episode on a movie camera.

    Comment by mom | September 10, 2009 | Reply

  2. To me you were and always will be Shannon, not the younger or older sister. You are right when you say our actions make us stand out. Some family members remember your actions with a lemon pie and you have carried a label ever since that incident.

    Comment by Anonymous | September 10, 2009 | Reply

  3. You are not only my little sister, the middle child, but my best friend…oh yea and the one who punched me in the mouth when I had braces and made me bleed…Love ya sista..

    Comment by Dana | September 10, 2009 | Reply

  4. I sense some very funny stories, behind the comments that your family left you! I like this story because it represents that story that everyone has about how they were defiant, and rebellious, and didn’t care; because that very short moment was worth getting grounded. Of course those moments are cuter when your young. It’s not so cute when a grown man robs a bank and says I don’t care what the consequences are!

    Comment by Nique | September 11, 2009 | Reply

  5. Dear “Gus” I never thought of you as a middle child but as the “player” of our piano and the precious neighbor we used to be able to see through the maize of trees that have over=grown the pathway between our houses. You bave a gift for making something as simple as a ride on your big wheel turm into a car-jacking. Keep up the stories. Love you, Joan

    Comment by Joan | September 13, 2009 | Reply

  6. […] #4: Big Wheel Keep on Turnin’ […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Blog Posts of 2009 « Shannon Philpott | December 30, 2009 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: