Wednesday, March 24, 2010

House Guest Harangue

Well,'it's official, I feel really old. Funny what triggers such feelings. I've been out of circulation because we've had a house guest staying for 9 days. This was the sort of house guest friends of ours in the foreign office in Tanzania had; i.e “a friend's 2nd cousin's girlfriend's boss” type guest. i.e. Never met them before, don't know them from Adam, but 'you live in a great holiday destination & staying with you would give us free accommodation' type guest. Same scenario (except for the 'great holiday destination' bit).

Actually not quite, but we had an American staying with us for 2 wks in Jan who was coming as an intern to work for my husband, & this unknown house guest was a friend of his, whom he asked if we could put up. We said 'Of course'.

I loved having this intern to stay, though again it made us feel so old. He was very young, born 2 years after I left university, 2 yrs before we got married; a graduate fresh out of college, full of life & enthusiasm, whose favourite word is 'awesome', all of which just made me feel very staid, & rather jaded. So much of our frame of reference was of a time or things before he was even born or had heard of.

The children loved him. Of course they did, he was FUN. He used to have cushion fights with them before school in the mornings, challenge them to matches on the Wii etc. Although he did manage to break our sofa, a candle holder, & knock one of the speakers on the floor during one of the sword fights. He is just a big kid really. No, that's not fair, but he has a lot more 'kid' left in him than I do! That's why I felt old. I own stuff, I know what things cost, I mind (not a lot, but a bit) about mess & breakages, I like to know how many people I am feeding of an evening, I like a bit of order. I realise it's decades since I had a cushion fight, & to be honest I don't really miss it...

The children would throw themselves on him like bouncy puppies greeting their master when he got back from work. He was, though, full of gratitude to us, appreciated my cooking & brought gifts for the children & treated us to a meal out (with complementary babysitting thrown in) A model guest (apart from over exuberant sword fights) & great fun to have around. His friend, however, was not.

I think what got to me was what I will call the “thoguhtless selfishness” of youth. I felt like a hotel, I felt wholly unappreciated & I felt drained from looking after everybody else (whilst running on empty at the moment). In the end I asked her to let me know 'that morning' if I would be feeding 1 or even 2 extra people or not. Her response was “I guess we'll grab dinner with you every day except Tuesday & Wednesday” - Nice expression.

One day I came back from work in the afternoon to find all the breakfast stuff, including milk & butter still out on the table. She hadn't even bothered to clear up before going out. She used my laptop all the time, sometimes asking, sometimes not. She rarely offered to help & did nothing spontaneously to help. Yet she was very sweet & friendly. Just thoughtless. Does thoughtfulness come with age then, I wonder?

I must admit I found it hard to be gracious (inside). To start with, she didn't know us at all, complete strangers offering her food an accommodation for a week. We saved her a ton of money by not staying in a hotel, yet she didn't bring a gift or anything. There were no flowers, no thank you note. Zip. (which wd be fine if she was family, I wouldn't expect it.) I took her on a day trip, I changed arrangements to fit in with her, I fed them lunch some days, when they decided to just hang out at our place. I drove her to the airport. At the airport I said I would take my son off for a drink & told them where we would be. 20 minutes later our American friend came to find us without our house guest. I asked where she was & he said, "Oh she's gone through to departures".


She had left without saying goodbye, without thanking us. She hasn't even emailed since to say thank you.

I couldn't believe it, I was gob-smacked.

Yet somehow I couldn't shake off this feeling that maybe I was just being middle-aged, old fashioned & pernickety. After all we had obviously been happy to have her to stay as we had offered, non? That's why I feel old, young people have a (probably unconscious) knack of making you feel that it's just you, who is out of touch with the way of the world, things have moved on, you are stuck in old habits & being too boring & reactionary about 'stuff'.

Still it's good preparation for the teenage years..... In the meantime though, I am going to continue to drill 5 & 9 y-o in the 'Ps & Qs'. I would hate to have anyone say the same of my children, however old fashioned it might seem.


Potty Mummy said...

Sounds like you were extremely discrete. I would not have been... (which is probably why we don't have those types of house guests!)

Iota said...

9 days?! No wonder you were exhausted.

Expat mum said...

It's exhausting having guests anyway, but ones like that make me feel very bitter. (Of course, I never have the spine to say much at the time.)
It makes me determined to raise my kids to do better though, which will be put to the test as we stay with a lot of people in England when we're over in the summer. I do believe, when they're over a certain age (ie. should know better) it's a reflection of how they were brought up.

nappy valley girl said...

Wow I bet you were happy to see the back of her.....I presume she won't be back for a repeat visit! I don't think it's anything to do with age, some people are just rude.

Anonymous said...

No it is not age at all - I'm in my 20s and I'd be mortified if I missed saying goodbye and thank you to a host! :)

Tanya said...

She was rude plain and simple I would be mortified if either of my boys (almost man and 'man now mum')behaved in such a cavalier manner towards their hosts. It sounds like you were very restrained altho I must admit I probably wouldnt have been able to say anything either.

Miss Welcome said...

Ugh! That just hurts. That is NOT age - it's pure lack of proper upbringing. I recently saw a book that intrigued me as it sounds like my parenting style. It's called, "I refuse to raise brats"

Sorry you gave your heart out with so little in return from the one guest.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Ugh. You are right, it is total thoughlessness. She didn't think that she was imposing. When she is older, and has done a bit of looking after other people herself, she'll think back to this time and think 'god I was rude'.

In the meantime, drill the kids with please, thank you and thank you notes. x

London City Mum said...

Am with FM on this one and will add that you are far too nice!
Personally would have kicked her out after 2 days and told her why to her face before slamming the door in it. It certainly would have made you feel better!

Our kids are drilled on Ps and Qs and already write thank you notes without prompting, as we were when younger.

You know what? I blame her parents.


Nappy Valley Housewife said...

Oh no, I thought that was the kind of thing that only happened to me! My husband is notorious for saying yest to friends of friends and their relatives who want to 'crash' for a few days. And I want them to think I'm nice so, much like you, I run around making sure they're fed and watered and properly entertained. Why do we do it? said...

how ghastly. don't think i'm as gracious as you. but i promise you teens aren't that bad, especially not when they're brought up with a modicum of manners, something your houseguest clearly lacked. poor you: glad she's gone.

Anita said...

How rude! I would have asked her to help out, or might have asked her to leave, if I could have brought myself to do that.
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