I planned it meticulously with my mother. She was to have Lauren, aged nearly one, for the day, while Chris and I took Ben, aged just three to the cinema for the first time, and then out for tea.
The film was Finding Nemo. He'd seen pictures in a magazine, we'd talked about it alot, and we'd read all the reviews. It all seemed perfect for our first borns initial cinema experience.
Lauren resisted being left with Gran that day, (kids have such a sixth sense don't they?), and so we were a little late arriving in Leeds. We parked at the Light and Ben was fascinated by the lifts. We bought the tickets, bought him some sweeties and headed for Screen 1, the biggest.
He was so excited he could hardly contain himself.We opened the doors, and his face changed a little. It was dark inside, and neither of us had thought to tell him this. I lifted him up and reassured him and we walked towards the seats. By this time we were really quite late and the cinema was heaving.
We walked down the centre aisle and could just see row after row of full seats.We walked up and down a while and thought we were going to be out of luck when Chris spotted three seats on the front row.
Not ideal, as the screen was huge, and we were just about three feet away, but beggars can't be choosers and we so desperately didn't want to upset our little boy. So we sat down, opened the sweets and made ourselves comfortable.
But not for long! The trailers ended, and Finding Nemo was next up. The music came first; deafening music, and Bens face fell. And it was very loud. He jumped on my knee - ok, I thought not the end of the world if he sits on my knee for two hours. Then the film started. Lots of lovely, colourful little fishes swimming around was what I had imagined and what we'd talked about - certainly not what came next.
The opening credits had just finished when - WHAM - a gi-normous shark came tearing towards us, filling the entire screen with its pointed teeth and flaring nostrils.
Ben screamed, and screamed and screamed and we left the cinema. That was it, his first cinema experience over in five minutes.
Note to film producers - is there really any need to scare the life out of your target audience, when most of them are under eight years old?!
Not that he's been scarred for life but it took us a good few years before Ben would return to the cinema. When he did, I took him to see Jungle Book. And yes, it was full of colourful little creatures and a friendly happy jungle boy who sang nice songs. Perfect.