BEN has joined a gang. At the tender age of three he is ‘running with da boyz’. Alright we are not talking about the back streets of Harlem, more a close in leafy Chandler’s Ford but still he has his own crew.

Now he has his own bike he has earned the right to pedal with the big boys on the mean streets.

They are all a lot older than him, we are talking seven or eight here, but bless them they have taken the little fella under their wing and are helping him to master the cycle. On occasion they do leave him stranded in the middle of the road, just a lone figure on stabilizers but dad is never far away to give him a push in the right direction.

It is just such a hoot to see him positively strut when ‘the boys come’. The other day they knocked on my door and asked very politely if Ben could ‘come out to play’ I nearly burst with pride at the thought my son had some ‘mates’ and cool ones at that.

Slipping on his Thomas the Tank Engine helmet – clearly unaware of the damage this could do to his street cred – he headed for the garage…and his wheels.

Watching him in action as he trundled up and down the carriageway it was amazing how he picked up the pedalling thing within minutes where as his dad and me had been trying to demonstrate the finer points of motion on wheels for days.

It crossed my mind that ‘the boys’ could well be the future of his social education, teaching him all the basics. For example picking your nose wasn’t cool, crying at the drop of a hat just isn’t where it is at and wiping your own bottom is the norm. This was starting to sound appealing before one of his new found friends piped up “I know how you make babies” at which point I had a sudden change of heart at the benefits of hanging out with the big boys.