My baby don't cry (in-flight)
The combination of an aversion to aviation (mine) and a toddler who is unable to sit still for longer than 25 seconds (also mine) is not entirely desirable when it comes to undertaking an excursion overseas. And yet it would appear that the lure of sunshine and abundant patisserie must have momentarily clouded any semblance of judgement that I might otherwise have displayed, had I not emerged pallid from an icy winter with an overwhelming craving for carbs and flaky pastry.
And thus to celebrate the child's second birthday - brilliant timing, given the fact we now have to pay full whack for her - I find myself confirming a trip to the continent, grappling with the mysteries of online check-in and purchasing an emergency set of bathroom scales in my panic that we might go a gramme over our allotted 15kg.
Until this point we have not taken the child anywhere beyond a 200-mile distance of London and the anticipation of her first trip abroad is the cause of untold excitement. "I go on a elloplane," she trills to anyone who comes within 100 yards. "I sit down very carefully and put on my seatbelt."
I am dubious about the sitting down part, recalling the London to Manchester train journey during which it appeared that a magnetic field around her seat was preventing her from placing her behind anywhere close to it for the entire two hours. And it is for this reason that, at night, I sneak into her room and whisper to her as she sleeps, hoping that somehow these subliminal messages will stop her rampaging round the plane and behaving in a way that I was always able to tut at smugly in my child-free past.
We arrive at the airport, deposit our baggage and try to constrain an over-excited toddler who is insisting on lying face down on the floor of the departure lounge and becoming hysterical at any attempt to remove her.
She is no more enamoured of having to stand in the queue at the gate and, while my husband chases after her, I take the opportunity to suggest to our fellow passengers that it may be wise to sit as far away from us as possible.
And yet contrary to expectation, her behaviour on the flight is impeccable. True, she works out how to undo the seat belt within a nano-second of sitting down, but I manage to convince her that the permanently lit "no smoking" sign actually means that you must keep your seat belt done up at all times. We keep her occupied with a sheet of stickers, most of which she adheres first to her top and then to my left arm, a fashion statement that does not go unnoticed by the rest of the passengers as we disembark.
The return journey is a similar story, although this time the child has spotted the safety information and is keen to discuss it in depth.
"Mummy, why is the man climbing in the cupboard? Is he looking for a biscuit?" (Actually darling, he is throwing himself out of the emergency exit in order to avoid certain death.)
"Ooh, I would like a lovely yellow coat like that." (I would prefer that we do not have to try on the lifejackets if that's OK with you.)
"Can I go on the bouncy slide?" (NO!)
"Look - the man is crawling. That's a nice game." (Yes, unless you notice that he is crawling through flames and smoke in a desperate but probably futile bid to flee a burning aircraft…).
I can say, hand on heart, that it's good to be home.