There are, however, consolations. Scoring zero on the cute scale means that my hand luggage no longer contains an impressive, Mary Poppins-style inventory of nappies, baby wipes, calpol, healthy snacks, toys, books and a fresh set of clothes (for everyone). These days it's just an ipad and a packet of sweets.
And when the kids go back to school at the beginning of term, I actually miss their company. There's a good reason why small children are cute: they are also HIGH maintenance. As scientist Konrad Lorenz argued in the 1940s, infantile features, such as big eyes and chubby cheeks, are designed to trigger a nurturing instinct in adults. These days my children may not be so adorable, but they can self-entertain during the holidays.
|Just look at those little faces!|
Last November I attended a forum on women in the media, where BritMums co-founder Jennifer Howze challenged the panel on why young women reporters tended to attract more attention. "Once you're not young and cute, you're not a superstar," she said. Lisa Markwell, editor of The Independent on Sunday, responded that newspapers were changing, with more focus on comment and opinion, a trend that would "play to older women [journalists] with experience".
In our youth-oriented culture, it would be nice to think that age and experience are making a comeback, but I'm not holding my breath. Like anyone else, I'm a sucker for a sweet face, but I am also learning to look at the complete package. There is some virtue in being older, wiser and considerably less cute. For a start, non-cuties are house-trained, much easier to look after and have more to say for themselves. What's not to like?