NOW I find out that there are cheat functions we ARE allowed to use, and they are halfway back to my old comfy home, "auto". These are P, AV and TV.
P is almost exactly like auto. The camera chooses the ISO, aperture and shutter speed for you. To be honest I don't really understand any major differences to "auto", (which remains - like the chocolate on the shelf reserved for ungrateful Halloween urchins - enticingly in plain view but entirely forbidden) except that the camera seems to assume that you don't want to use the flash, and it will allow you to fiddle with the ISO if you wish. This is a great setting to use if you are completely lost and want a starting point for all your settings - just pop it on P, and check in the display to see what the camera chooses.
AV is aperture priority. This setting lets you choose the aperture you want, and then the camera will settle everything else for you. So, if you want a small depth of field, for example, if your child is playing in front of you, then you might want to set your aperture to F3.5. Then snap away, knowing that if the light changes as they find new positions, the camera will adjust the other variables to create optimum exposure. Unfortunately there is no anti-grimace button for when your child is being uncooperative.
TV is shutter speed priority. Here, you set the shutter speed where you want, and the camera plays with the rest. This would be useful if you have moving subjects and you want to be able to follow them without having to muck around in between shots. Particularly useful for sports days, parties, and when your child is running away from you in the mall - after which you will need a telephoto lens to find them.
Basically, you are really only meant to use these functions where timing is an issue. Otherwise you have to do all the hard work yourself. Why? Working on that....maybe because in the properties of your photos (you know what you find on the computer when you right-click) display all the settings you use, and everybody will know when you have cheated....