Anyway, this year, with L four and a half and S and A coming up three, we think it's time we introduced another life skill. Time to get up on two wheels. Bikes it is.
But even the world of bikes is not as straightforward as it was when my parents bought me "Bobcat" thirty-odd years ago. There are now choices: do we go for the tried and tested stabilisers, or the modern and trendy balance bike?
I rather feel that for L, we have missed the boat (if that's the right metaphor in this context) with a balance bike, although that might simply be because you tend to see very small children on them, and not the slightly bigger ones, but that for S and A, we could decide to go either way.
Fortunately we have cousins, and fortunately the cousins have both sorts, so this weekend we tried them out in an attempt to see what suits.
My instinctive preference is for the balance bike. If riding a bike breaks down into two parts: balancing and pedalling, then pedalling is, surely, the easy bit. Better therefore to master the tricky one first and then add the easy one.
The problem is, of course, that that leaves balancing as the tricky bit, and three year olds, or at least my nearly-three-year-olds, aren't that good at perseverance in the face of initial failure. They tried the balance bike, gave up and proceeded to fight over the one with pedals and stabilisers* for the simple reason that they could do it. My sister-in-law also pointed out that with twins, balance bikes, which require an initial intense element of parental participation, are even harder - you can't hold on to two children on bikes at the same time, apparently, especially if they're heading in opposite directions.
So I'm veering back to the principle of four wheels good, two wheels bad, but what do others think? Does mastering a balance bike first really make learning to ride a "proper" bike easier in the long run? Or doesn't it make much difference?
PS: You'll be pleased to hear that compromise was finally reached...