Life Lessons from a Faded Purple Tricycle

“Let’s go, Mom! Yeeee-hawww!” He zips down the driveway, daring me to keep up. A welcome hand-me-down 10 years ago, even then it was faded and well-loved. Girl, boy, girl, boy. They’ve all sped around on the faded purple tricycle, grinning ear to ear. Sure, we’ve been tempted to replace it over the years, especially while trailing behind our boys pedaling purple and pink. I’m glad we haven’t, though, if only for the lessons remembered.

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Lessons from a Faded Purple Tricycle

Give thanks in all circumstances.

Trailing behind our kids riding the faded purple contraption is humbling. People can see them! They can see us! It’s old and girly! What will our friends and neighbors think?!

But as with all things, we are learning gratitude. Our kids have a tricycle! It was free! It’s lasted through four rough riders, and the fifth one spends hours stretching to reach the pedals. Our children are healthy and whole and have been able to ride it with little help. Their scrapes and bruises brought on by over-confidence and cracks in the sidewalk have healed beautifully. They’ve moved on to training wheels and two-wheelers with lightning speed. There is much to be thankful for.

Lessons from a Faded Purple Tricycle

Children don’t see color. Or rust.

As often as we have thought about replacing the tricycle for a newer, more visually pleasing model, our children have never complained. It rides great! They’ve never said a word about the trike that doesn’t involve bragging about how fast they can pedal around the corner. Little children don’t see color. Or rust. Or many of the glaring faults and differences that attract the attention of adults. We are the ones who teach them what’s important. We are the ones who tell them what and who is or isn’t good enough.

We are the ones with the power and influence. We can teach them to appreciate what they have and ride joyfully, saving for what they’ll need and want, or we can teach them that bright and shiny and new at all costs is the only way to ride.

Lessons from a Faded Purple Tricycle

These seasons are temporary.

The faded purple tricycle serves its purpose, and we are well aware that its purpose is temporary.  Constantly chasing after new, shiny objects that will most certainly be replaced is a futile effort. Our desires will never be satiated.

Seasons of struggle are just that: seasons. It’s okay to not have every perfect thing right this very minute. It’s admirable to sacrifice and work hard for a goal. It’s good to be happy with what we have, even when what we have has seen better days.

Lessons from a Faded Purple Tricycle

Tell that money where to go.

Yes, we most certainly can afford to buy a Radio Flyer complete with a bell and streamers. It’d be pretty cool to watch our kids zip around town pedaling a fancy new ride. The money is there, but it’s not endless. We must prioritize and tell that money where to go.

For now, there are other things that trump new wheels for our toddlers and preschoolers when the wheels they have roll just fine. Would a $50 bike make or break our other needs and goals? Likely not, but one $50 drop in the bucket follows another and another, and it does add up. The faded purple tricycle is a reminder to us and our children that we make sacrifices in order to prioritize other needs and wants. Maybe it’s new curtains for the living room, or perhaps it’s a monthly child sponsorship. Save more, give more! The money will go somewhere. It’s better that we be in charge of where it goes.

Lessons from a Faded Purple Tricycle

It’s not about the vehicle, it’s about the ride. Hang on tight and enjoy!

Do you have a faded purple tricycle? A well-loved vehicle? An ugly stroller? A couch with strategically placed throw pillows? The old and ugly don’t define us, but our attitude about them may very well!


  1. After 17 years of marriage I got my first new piece of furniture! – a new couch that just thrilled me beyond words – the newly married girls at work couldn’t believe I never had new furniture when they have new houses, new cars and new everything – I love hand me downs and the kids do too and my mama taught me to be happy with what I have which does make for true happiness in my book 🙂 – love this post

    • We’ll be married 15 years in December. I’m trying to think if we have new furniture anywhere… our mattress! (that I got as a paid blog gig) Does that count? 😉 Yay for your couch! I still remember when my parents got their first new couch and two chairs. I was in high school. 🙂

  2. Awesome. And I love that tricycle. (Also– we somehow stink at teaching kids to ride bikes. Can I send mine over to learn from yours? 😉 )

    • Ha! We stink at it too! My 9 y/o dd still needs training wheels. :/ Not really sure how kids learn to ride bikes?!

      • My 5 and 6 year olds are still both riding with training wheels!

      • If you are able to buy or borrow a balance bike (on Amazon–our kids have one and the brand/name is called Kazam if you want to search for it), after one summer of riding the balance bike, they should be able to literally hope on a 2-wheeler and be fine! Our son couldn’t grasp a 2-wheeler, and my husband has a bad back. So we tried the balance bike and it was like a miracle!

      • Put them in a big yard with grass . And let them go at it and cheer them on . The tires settle into the grass and there is a lot less fear of falling. Take a picnic and make it a moment to remember.

      • Schwinn has a tutorial on their website on learning to ride a bike. I followed it (loosely) for my daughter. I basically started her learning to balance while rolling down an incline (our driveway). Then she had to pedal to maintain, after a few wobbly attempts she got it in about an hour!

    • Ha! We continue to rack up the “reasons to be neighbors” list, huh? Yeah. I don’t know the secret. They just DO it. Crazies.

  3. Great post! I have 2 boys and now a little girl who is 15 months and yes I want all the girly clothes for her to wear. She currently wears boys pjs to bed because I had just the right size for her. I also have been using Facebook garage sales sites to sell boys clothes and buy used girl clothes, it works for us and I get really cute clothes at a fraction of the original sales prices. The other night I noticed my neighbor joined the same site and when I told my husband, “oh great now she is going to know I buy my kids used clothes.” His response, “why should that bother you? what does it matter, we make sacrifices in some areas so we can live well in others.” Enough said!

    • Maybe the neighbor joined so she can do the same thing? You could pair up and be bargain shopping buddies! I love when I have a friend holding me accountable and helping me find deals on what I need for my family. 🙂

  4. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. As a single mom of 4 boys, who has been struggling lately with feeling “less-than” because I am unable to provide some of the material items for my kids that other parents are seemingly able to, I needed this post more than you can possible know. I appreciate the reminder and much-needed “perspective adjustment.” 🙂

  5. I just wanted to say thank you! I am so glad that God has led you to blog. You never fail to touch my heart in some way.

  6. Thank you for the great reminders. I especially needed the reminder about telling our money where to go.

    • *I* need that one too, Katie. We have a BIG house project coming up and I need the reminder front and center to not pay for “this” so that we can have “THAT.” 🙂

  7. “Little children don’t see color. Or rust. Or many of the glaring faults and differences that attract the attention of adults”

    This is so true! My boys got bunks beds and needed sheets for them. Since I was buying new sheets for them (on sale at Big Lots w/a coupon & they picked just plain colors, nothing fancy 🙂 ), I thought I would get my daughter a new set. When I mentioned it to her she asked why? In my mind I was thinking because yours are faded and were hand-me-downs, but I just said I thought she might like some. She said there’s nothing wrong with the ones I have. Bless her heart! We’ve never done the one-kid-gets-something-so-they-all-need-to-get-something thing and apparently it’s worked! I’m so glad that she reminded me when I forgot! 🙂

    • What a sweet girl! My 10yo is starting to want All The Nice Things, so we’re learning new lessons here, but the others are pretty much oblivious at this point.

  8. So many good lessons here! I wanted to mention that my K-State Wildcat husband says purple is a manly color ; )

  9. My 2 year old loves riding around on his sisters old princess scooter. So many times I’ve wanted to just go buy him a boy one. After reading this maybe I’ll let him keep using it. 🙂

  10. This is not on topic at all, but I thought you would get a kick out of this. My college freshman came home to visit last weekend, and I asked him what meal he wanted me to make so he could take it back and eat it later. Guess what he wanted? Crowd-Pleasing Cavatini. Yup; we love it here!!!

  11. This is such a great reminder! Love the purple tricycle! 🙂 We have lots of old, hand-me-down toys, furniture, and clothes, too. They have been such a blessing over the years.

  12. My kitchen aid mixer was a hand me down and that baby is UGLY. It’s supposed to be white but its all yellowed. I’ve replaced the beaters a couple times. I ‘ve been enticed by some of the smokin’ Kohls deals on a new hot pink model, but eh, it works just fine so why replace it? It does stay in my cupbooard hidden though 🙂

  13. Great post! Most of my kids’ Christmas presents were bought at garage sales until they were in their teens. They never knew, and didn’t care even after they did. It was new to them; that’s all that mattered. And, you are right – one of our house rules is “Little things add up.” That applies to things that break from too much usage the wrong way, little bits of money add up to lots of money if you save it, etc.

    • My husband grew up with garage sale gifts, too, and he has FOND, FUN memories of them! My very favorite Easter dress growing up was bought for 75 cents at a garage sale. 😉

  14. “It’s not about the vehicle, it’s about the ride. Hang on tight and enjoy!”–this saying, well, something VERY similar to it, was my dad’s “theme” for life. (He passed away while serving in Afghanistan in 2010. That made me smile to see that written there. Thanks for the unintentional warm-fuzzy. 🙂

  15. I can’t tell you how much I love this post, and how timely it is! Literally a few hours before reading this, I was outside with my children while my youngest was trying to ride big brother’s old tricycle that has definitely seen better days. It’s just plain ugly. And boyish. And not pink and cute with princesses. I was having a mental conversation with myself about whether or not to get her a new one for Christmas. I decided on not, but was feeling a little guilty (as I often do, because her brother got everything new because he’s the oldest). Thank you for putting things into perspective!

    • There IS some “well the first kid got new” guilt over lots of things. Ugh. We need constant reminders that the guilt is OURS, not theirs. My littles are often so EXCITED about “finally” getting to use or wear or grow into their big sibs’ things. 😉

  16. Thank you so very much for such a beautiful post! I came across this post while on Pinterest and it caught my eye as we are currently living on a shoestring budget and doing our best to make ends meet. It was a really great reminder to me that my two boys (ages 6 and 2) don’t need new and shiny and that it’s really in the attitude in which life is lived and enjoyed. That it’s okay to not always have new things because really children are just grateful to have something good enough.

  17. I love this! I found myself nodding my head in agreement so much, with a smile on my face. My daughter’s first and likely only tricycle was bought at a yard sale for $7. It’s pink and purple and plastic and ugly as all get out, but she loves it. We talked about buying one with a handle so that we don’t have to bend over to push her around a lot, but decided it isn’t worth it. I love getting to feel her closeness and the breath from her giggles as I’m bent over pushing her all over our house. And I can totally relate to the ugly stroller thing. The one we had when she was born was given to us and is ugly and old and worn out, but it worked. Then I found a free umbrella stroller that is dirty, but still works. Someone was throwing it away. We have been talking about buying a jogging stroller for some time now and recently found one for $40 at a yard sale and boy, is it ugly. To think I registered for a $700 stroller before she was born! Boy do things and priorities change after they’re actually here! Anyways, thanks for reminding me of what’s really important. While we could manipulate our finances to buy a shiny new ‘thing’ for ourselves, should we? There will always be used strollers and tricycles that work just fine and bring the same, if not more, joy.

  18. Great point made to remember the simple things that bring us joy. Well done!

  19. What would have been wrong with buying a small three dollar can of paint and painting it or at least painting blue accents for a boy?

    • Not a thing! It didn’t bother him, so it didn’t bother us. And his younger sisters used it until it was d.o.n.e after him. 🙂


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