I don't know what this is called in English. It's just a small bicycle with no pedals. Push-bike?
It's for kids who aren't big enough for a real bike. Back in December, Jacob went to Cyprus with his Oma, my mother-in-law. They went to visit Claudia's brother, who lives there with his family. Jacob got to see his two cousins, ages three and one. And the older cousin had a laufrad. Jacob utterly loved it, so we got one for him for Christmas.
He didn't get much use out of it for a while, but in the last few weeks he's been riding it to school most mornings. Now, you can't pedal a laufrad, so it's no use at all going up hills. But on the flats you can get up a decent head of speed (for a four year old) by pushing with your feet. And going downhill, you can go just as fast as any bike.
Jacob's kindergarten is downhill all the way from our house.
The good news: Jacob clamors for the laufrad every morning. And once he gets it, zoom, he's out the driveway and zipping down the sidewalk. He brakes at the big street and waits for me to catch up so we can cross together (me usually with Leah on my shoulders) and then, zoom, he's off again down the block to the kindergarten. In very little time he learned how to balance on it; he can now lift his feet off the ground and ride it like a real bicycle, which means he can build up some serious speed. He loves it.
The less good news: come the afternoon, he just hates dragging the laufrad back up the hill to our house. I foolishly carried it the first few times, and then pushed him a time or two after that. Then once I refused, the histrionics began: I'm so tired. My legs hurt. I don't like you, Daddy.
It reached the point where I would try to drag him out of the driveway before he could get the laufrad out of the garage. He didn't like this one bit, but I figured better a tantrum in the morning (when he'd soon be distracted by arriving at school) than in the afternoon (when he might be grumpy through dinnertime).
But I think -- maybe -- we've reached a meeting of the minds. After many, many repetitions of "if you want to have the laufrad in the morning, you can, but then YOU HAVE TO PUSH IT BACK UP THE HILL", I think it's starting to sink in. At least, the whining has tapered off to what looks like glum acceptance.
Jacob will probably outgrow the laufrad pretty soon; I wouldn't be surprised if he's on a bicycle this summer. Meanwhile, though, it is kind of nice to watch him go zooming down the hill every morning.