Our son (age nine) and our daughter (age seven) had been obsessed with the idea of getting these shoes called Heelys — named for the little rubber wheels tucked under the person’s heels.
The child in me admired how cool they looked. Heelys were the kind of gizmo I would have wanted as a kid. Much cooler than my Pogo Ball or my little sister’s Moon Shoes.
The parent in me, however, was nervous about my kids essentially wearing roller skates without a helmet. They’d be safer with a helmet, but it wouldn’t be very practical to tote one around considering sometimes you just wear Heelys as sneakers. (The wheels can pop out.)
During our summer vacation to Ontario, the kids’ grandparents generously gifted them each with a pair of Heelys for a belated birthday surprise.
They were so excited that they started lacing them up right in the store, snapping the wheels into the little caverns in each shoe.
I felt pretty confident since they’re both very coordinated children — unlike their mother.
And then … they couldn’t wheel (or “heel”) an inch.
It was painful watching the kids shuffle their way around the toystore, stumbling every time the wheels connected with the smooth floor.
I showed them a YouTube video on my phone and tried, unsuccessfully, to describe how they should try to do it. I was no help. They either walked on their tippy-toes or skidded awkwardly, half-tripping and coming close to knocking over several displays.
The sales clerk had said specifically that the Heelys were not returnable once the wheels had been clicked into place. I started to worry that we may have just made a very expensive mistake.
After weakly thanking him for his help, we piled back into the car and continued on our errands. Luckily, the next stop was a large discount store to buy fabric (woohoo!) and the kids had plenty of aisle space to practice their, um, stumbling.
Gripping the handles of the shopping cart, they took turns trying to get their balance on the little rubber wheels. Slowly, slowly, they started to get the hang of it. They each fell back on their bums a few times, but popped up quickly as if they hoped no one had noticed.
Over the next few days, the kids worked hard on their Heely-ing and began to wheel for longer distances at a time — one foot flexed up, with the other nearly flat.
Our son actually got so good at it that he wore his Heelys for two long days at Canada’s Wonderland, and delighted with “wheeling” by the suckers who had to walk. Since we’ve been back home, he’s worn them every day, everywhere.
He even wore them to day camp one day, but he was politely asked not to wear them again.
Now that’s school is back in session, he’s been wearing them daily as his “outdoors.” I keep warning him they could be banned from school at any point, so he should enjoy it while it lasts.
The Heelys were definitely a great gift and the kids adore them. Yes, they make all adults nervous, as the kids tear around on those little rubber wheels, but the shoes have a surprisingly awesome benefit. Are you ready for it?
Boring errands are suddenly lots of fun because stores always have smooth, crack-free floors.
The very same children who used to complain about coming along to the drugstore, the grocery store, the hardware store or the fabric store are suddenly inspired to come along, cheerfully, because they know they can glide down the empty aisles on their wheeled sneakers.
I used to start trips into stores by reminding them “Good manners, stick together, and remember that we’re only buying what I say we’re buying.” Now I have to add an additional disclaimer: “Don’t run anyone over or I’m confiscating your wheels.”