terrible two or terrible you?

In ALL, FRIENDSHIP, RAISING HOPS INTO BEERS by Stephanie Klein77 Comments

play room stephanieklein
(Luke & Abigail, Age 2)

Phil’s college friends, a couple with a two-year-old daughter, have been staying with us for the past eight days. Today is day nine. Their departure date was this coming Monday, day twelve. Yes, was. They’ve chosen to leave, to research nearby hotels, and to call to secure a room. Their bags are packed.

“What?!”

“Yeah,” Phil tells me privately, “They’re going to stay in a hotel.”

“What?!”

“They just don’t think the girls are getting along well.”

“So. They’re kids. It’s not like there was pushing or biting or hitting. Or even screaming. Seriously?”

“I just think their daughter doesn’t really know how to play with other kids because she’s not socialized.” Phil didn’t say socialized. I don’t know what he said. I still couldn’t get past “What?!”

They travel often for work, taking their daughter on the road with them. Because they’re on the go so often, their daughter doesn’t have the opportunity to play with other kids around her own age. At least, this is what her father has shared with me.

“So, they’re butting heads. So, what? This is an opportunity for both girls to learn. You don’t just pack up and leave. Seriously?”

“Dale Carnegie, Stephanie.”

“Huh?”

“Yesterday, didn’t you tell me that whether or not the other party is completely off-the-wall 100% dead-stupid-wrong, that you just go ahead and let them believe what they want? Think what they want. Let them think that they’re right and to keep your ego out of it?”

“Yuh.”

“Well, there it is. They think going to a hotel is the answer, so let them believe it.”

Before I play the empathy card and step into their guest slippers, I’ll share the details that stick with me as likely catalytic events to their wanting to vamoose, realizing that the backup singers to this entire gig sing lyrics something like this: take nothing personally.

This is Abigail’s house
These are her toys, that is her doll, her fork, and her pink plate. And guess what? Abigail needs to learn how to share her things, in her house, especially with a “her” two years her junior. Abigail is used to sharing with Lucas and with her friends—and especially doesn’t mind sharing when it feels like it’s her own decision, her good choice to share. But sometimes, she becomes a toy hoarder. I attribute this “those are my babydolls!” to the fact that she’s often coaxed into sharing because it’s the “right” thing to do, even when it doesn’t feel right. We all know how it goes. Tell me to share, and sod it off. But if it’s my good heart that wants to share with you, then we’re all happy.

She doesn’t particularly have to like it, but she’ll hopefully (eventually) feel good about seeing another child experiencing joy from something Abigail has shared with her. But “eventually” won’t come with the packing of bags. Kids need to learn to work things out as much as adults do. The older child, my Abigail, can benefit from having a curious toddler in the mix. It’s an opportunity to set a good example, modeling good manners, learning how to lead and teach. And in a Montessori world, it would happen after the very first “We share our things because we want other people to share their things with us, too” sit down. But it takes practice. And it takes practice for the Little(r) Miss to learn not to grab, not to take without asking, not to call everything “mine.” But that’s what two year olds do, all of them. And they learn not to do it in time, and with practice. Kids know right from wrong—they need gentle reminders and boundaries—but they’re capable of working it out.

We all want what we want. Know why my children share a room right now? Because, most likely, for the rest of their lives they’ll be sharing a room with someone else. Life is sharing. Ideas, credit, tears, laughter, possessions, space, and fudge. Both girls have an extraordinary opportunity to learn and grow, but it doesn’t come with “get up and go.” That said…

Nine days is a long time to stay with anyone, even your best friend.
I actually don’t believe this, unless a mother-in-law is involved. If you’re out and about doing your own thing, apart from your hosts, having your own private dinners now and then, eight days a week is nothing (but a harmonious Beatles song).

So long as there’s alcohol, I actually think day fourteen marks the official See Ya! Threshold, especially in this house, where “the guest quarters” are far removed from the family bedrooms upstairs. And it’s cheaper to stay with friends than it is to stay at the cheapest of shoddy hotels. Also, I’m pretty sure we have less semen on the coverlet.

Their leaving reminds me of the film The Family Stone with Diane Keaton and Sarah Jessica Parker, where uptight SJP throws a passive-aggressive hissy fit by booking herself a room at a nearby inn in lieu of staying at the home of her boyfriend. Eventually, SJP returns and becomes part of the family, not by departing, but by throwing herself into the mix (literally, mixed on the floor with her strata, egg on her face – so to speak, tangled in a slippery laughing mess with her boyfriend’s mother and sister). The point being, this right here is what life is about, struggling through it, working it out. Staying. There’s no lesson learned when you’re pulling yourself away from life and all its conflict. I actually think you’re doing your child a disservice by removing her from the situation altogether.

And as much as I can chant “take nothing personally,” perhaps the couple is pulling a Dale Carnegie on me, neglecting to mention some thing or the other and instead “taking the blame” by claiming “terrible two’s” when in fact they’re thinking, “terrible you!”

What do you think? I could use an objective point of view or two.
 

Comments

  1. Eight days is too damned long for houseguests. Period. No matter what. I think if your sweet girl survived 8 days with a non-related 2 year old all up in her business, she deserves a gold star and another pink plate.

    1. totally agree with you. they’re non-related adults. pay for a hotel room from the get-go!!!

      1. My mother always says that like fish, company stinks past 3 days. I so agree.

        You are a saint to have have had them for EIGHT.

  2. I agree with you; I also don’t think it’s a good idea to give bad behavior, or not getting along, that much power over what the whole family does (for either girl, really, though obviously this wasn’t your choice as a parent).

    1. I couldn’t agree more. It’s just really bad parenting. If I were them, and I read this post, I would have sucked it up and come back to your house. It wouldn’t have been easy, but if I looked within after reading your words, I would have known in my bones that you were right, and I would have told you so.

      Most people aren’t that brave or willing to admit when they’re dead wrong. They sound like parents who have A LOT of work to do in their OWN people skills, never mind their parenting skills.

      1. I disagree. Some families react differently to being out of a routine that they are used to – both the parents and the kids. It sounds like this family is used to being a solid unit of 3 and spending a lot of time in hotels. I don’t think there is an obligation to make sure that your two-year old can live with another family for a long period of time – even if it is in a great guest wing.

  3. I am sure that they left for YOUR family’s sake, not their daughter’s. Despite the fact that you had no problems with the conflict between the girls, they were clearly embarrassed by their daughter’s behavior as they felt the need to explain it (i.e. the business trips/lack of socialization). If they felt their daughter wasn’t “playing nice” with your kids while their family was already imposing (or at least believed they were) on your hospitality, they must have felt more comfortable leaving. I would have done the same thing. But I would always rather stay in a hotel than in someone’s home. I just enjoy the privacy of a hotel room and hate feeling like I am intruding on someone’s home.

  4. Phew…I had trouble getting past the part where you said they were there for 8 days, going on 12. I wouldn’t be able to deal with that with anyone…regardless of how much I love them. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. So obviously I can’t comment on who, what, why. My hat is off to you. I hope they thank you profusely.

    1. Btw out of curiosity, do they read your blog? Enquiring minds would love to know if they responded and whether they set your mind at ease.

        1. Ahh…I hope it didn’t create a rift in your friendship. Interesting about the mutual friend. Do you think they were trying to mend or meddle?

        1. Yuck. Well, I think you were very gracious, whether they were going to ultimately read it or not. Eight days is a very long time to spend together for people who don’t share the same feelings about spending time together, in my opinion.

          From everything you’ve written, I know you’re a fantastic hostess and love the idea of planning the details of an unforgettable stay: thoughtful touches everywhere, great meals, etc. Some people feel very uncomfortable in situations where they feel like someone is fussing. My husband is one of them; I love making elaborate meals, but I tend to do the whole “Is it good? I didn’t follow the recipe. Do you need anything?” It drives him crazy, but I’m just trying to make sure he’s happy.

          I dream of having a cozy home where people drop in and there’s always something yummy planned for dinner, a bottle of wine ready to be poured, an old movie ready to watch, the guest bed made up with new sheets, etc. And while I have no problem being fussed over, I do very much value some quiet/privacy when not on my own turf. As much as I know it irks my in-laws, I always find reasons to steal off for a half hour or so to grab a nap, read a magazine, etc. by myself. I don’t know if that’s what prompted your guests’ decision, but I don’t think you did anything wrong, and you shouldn’t take it personally, hard as that might be.

          1. Author

            You know, when guests stay, as much as I adore entertaining and little touches, I also know that guests need time to breathe and not feel breathed upon. Their guest room has a steam shower and a sauna, an attached workout room/gym, loaded with the latest magazines and a TV. There were nights where they would go out alone, times when they visited with other friends, we were not together 24/7. During the day, I was off working or stowed away in my office; my children were off at school.

  5. I think you are right on and your guests are not being gracious by leaving early. I can only imagine by your past posts how you have gone out of your way to make them feel at home and welcomed in your home.

    1. Author

      I just LOVE having company! I never want anyone to leave. I love cooking and filling a house with stories and board games and movies and cocktails.

      I realize that’s just me, but I wanted them to stay (is that unclear in what I’ve written here?)

      1. I think you made it clear. It sucks that they felt that they needed to pack up early. No matter how they spin it, that’s got to feel bad that they’re leaving earlier than they were supposed to. :-(

      2. Author

        Yes. It didn’t feel good, but then I tried to remind myself of the most helpful mantra there is: take nothing personally. Imagine if *everyone* did that? We’d all be living a much breezier easier life.

      3. But you said a lot of the time they were doing their own thing. I understand you wanted them to stay…but obviously, most people think even 8 days is extraordinarily long. Maybe you should consider opening a bed & breakfast. It sounds like that would be perfect for you. Seriously. People do their own thing, but come back together at times to hang out. And you would know going in how long they’d be there so there would be no hard feelings.

  6. What is the saying about fish and houseguests? After three days they start to stink? Who stays with anyone for NINE days? Really?

    1. totally agree, three days for normal house guests is acceptable, after that it becomes a stretch… really good friends can be tolerated longer, depending on their personality, up to 8 days.

      1. LOL! What I said above without reading your very wise comments. 3 days and you are pushing it unless you..

        -seamlessly become a NON guest (as in you are so great to be with you are a joy to have around).

        _are a parent who has traveled from afar to enjoy the grandkids (a week is my limit).

        -are near death and want a few more moments with your family.

        Seriously though, I am not huge on entertaining and having guests stay past a few nights. Just the way I am I guess and do not expect others to have me beyond a few nights.

        Just me?

  7. Thank you @ SP…. All that was going through my head when I read this was Ben Franklin’s maxim that fish and house guests stink in 3 days… There is something artificially strange and forced about this whole scenario… Who, other than family, could one tolerate for 8 straight days.. And with family, not even so well.. Not everything is a litmus test… Let’s face it, Americans don’t have the same cultural mores to live in super close proximity with others for long periods of time… Look, I am an only child, but if I may say, an extremely generous person… Relax, teach your kids good values and all will be well…

  8. Playdates are a good way to get Abigail to adjust to having another child there playing with her things. You can’t expect her to be pleasant and sharing for eight days straight. (Heck, I can’t do it for eight days straight as a forty-something male.) Push her there a bit at a time.

    But, no, I took it as they were embarrassed as to how their child was acting and decided they needed to leave. Perhaps your parenting skills shamed them (smile).

  9. Oh my goodness, why stress about this? If they want to leave let them, they have been there long enough, perhaps they need some room or want to make plans while in town that involve other people or just want to be on their own for a few days. It might not be about you or the children. There is also the possibility that they felt they were being a burden on you and Phil, it is a long time to stay with someone. Take this one opportunity to not stress about a situation and just take it for what it is, a chance to have the house back to just you and your family.

  10. Yeah, I’m with everyone who thinks 8 days (out of 12?! Really?) is a looong amount of time for ONE person to stay with your family, let alone three people. To me it just seems like huge imposition, no matter how gracious the hosts may be. And maybe your guests came to realize that.

    Even if they’re the best guests in the world, having people living in your house who need to be cleaned up after, fed, and scheduled around, is stressful (especially for kids, I imagine, with all the changes to routine.) Don’t beat yourself up about their choice to make things a little easier on both parties.

  11. Eeeek!!! Nine days, with a planned TWELVE? Who does that? The mere thought of that makes me cringe and cramp and shudder. I would tell my best friend sorry, but I just cannot do it.
    And yeah, IF you all mutually agree on twelve days, packing your bags on day nine is all sorts of weird and offensive. There MUST be more to it than just a toddler issue.

  12. SP beat me to it, but I was about to say, “Fish & relatives…in this case good friends…stink after three days.” I don’t know how any of you survived 8! That being said, their two-year old needs to be with other children. Give Abigail a medal for lasting this long.

  13. More than a weekend is too long for houseguests (going both ways) as far as I’m concerned. There is NO way I would take someone up on an offer to stay at their house for two weeks and neither would my husband. ESPECIALLY with a child. We just like our own space. Even Lisa Vanderpump and her husband wanted to get rid of Cedric and he probably had his own WING.

    I don’t understand your need to play hostess for so long. Their kid is two, and maybe she does need socialization, but that doesn’t need to happen in your house for two weeks. They’re going to have to figure out their travel situation and what’s best for their daughter in the long run, but maybe when they’re in a place other than home for two weeks on business, they don’t feel like dealing if their child is unhappy. Maybe they even have some guilt that they have to do this to her, so they try to keep her as happy as possible. Maybe not “right” or how you would want to parent, but if I’ve learned anything in my two years of being a mom, it’s that people are going to parent how they see fit and none of my judgements are going to change that.

    I find it odd on both ends that staying for two weeks or even 8 days was entertained. And more so that you’re upset that they want to leave. I’m sure they had a fine time, but after a few days, you want to be able to take a long poop without wondering if anyone’s noticed you’ve been in the bathroom that long, order room service, have someone do housekeeping that isn’t also having breakfast with you, etc.

    I don’t see why it’s such a big deal to you that they want to go. Had they only stayed the weekend, they would’ve left on a “high note” and you wouldn’t even have these feelings or pondering what the deal is with them leaving because that’s a normal amount of time to have/be houseguests where everyone is still happy in the end.

  14. yeah, staying with someone for 12 days is stressful even if there were no children to blame it on. it’s hard to fully relax in someone else’s house.

  15. I too believe the magical moments with friends and family can happen with sleepovers and during the messy times in life. But, not everyone wants this. If they are used to the neutral territory of hotels, for themselves and their daughter being in someone’s home can be hard.
    Just thinking as a hostess it is thoughtful to give the adults a few items in their rooms so they aren’t required to ask to borrow, perhaps for the kids the same could apply? A few toys set aside for the wee houseguest or during the trip Abigail could help pick out or create a toy for the wee one. Another idea, after the trip, a photo taken during the stay could be sent in a kid frame (or they could even create a mini album together).

  16. My guess is that the parents are the ones who actually want more alone time. While I don’t necessarily think 8 days is too long for a (good friend’s) visit, I might go crazy if I didn’t have time by myself. They’re just blaming their child for what they want.

  17. Wow – you are a generous host, I would be carrying their bags to the car and jumping up and down in glee! My 4 yr old granddaughter has always been the youngest in the family until my daughter adopted from China last fall (she just turned 2). When both families are here, not only do the girls have to share toys they have to share me, and it has been stressful! The oldest pushed the 2 year old out of my lap and said, “My Nana, not your Nana”. We all know they will learn and it will get beetter, but even with family I don’t think I could deal with the drama for 8 days, much less 12.

  18. I think all of your points are valid. But that’s our opinion. And there is no point in getting upset about someone else’s viewpoint.

    How they choose to raise their child is their business. And if they want to isolate her and not allow her to learn how to navigate social interactions and conflicts that is their choice.

    As to whether they are leaving because of you or your family – again, if you are happy with how you treated them, how your actions reflect on you, then its unlikely that you are the cause of the departure.

  19. As many have already mentioned, you could have ended this post at 8 day. I could have predicted the rest. That’s way too long to be up in someone else’s space. I would have been thinking hard of an excuse to jet.

  20. It’s easier to be a host than a guest. As a host, we feel all “oh, I’m being so gracious and opening my home to you and going out of my way, etc. etc.” Being a guest is the worst. You’re constantly aware that you’re in the way and can never really relax, and 8 days is a LONG time to be in “polite guest” mode. Just let it go.

  21. I totally understand how they feel–it’s hard to see your kid having a hard time, and 8 days of it was probably very tiring for them. That being said, I agree with you that it is completely lame to let a two-year-old dictate the family agenda. If I’d bailed every time my son wasn’t playing nice when he was two, we never would have left the house! They sound like maybe they are just a bit clueless about what it’s like to have kids.

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  23. I once went to stay with my best friend and her boyfriend when I was visiting. After a couple of the most uncomfortable nights I’ve ever had (air mattress on a hardwood floor, her BF didn’t believe in turning the heater on, even though it was snowing, not enough hot water to shower, etc. etc. etc.) I went to a hotel.

    I’m sure your house is nothing like that, but even though I was miserable, it was still insanely hard to leave her house. I felt like an ungrateful jerk. I don’t know your friends, but I imagine that they had to be very uncomfortable, for whatever reason. Maybe they just felt like they were imposing on you.

    I assume something is bugging them, and it’s obviously bugging you. After my vacation I didn’t speak to my closest friend for 2 years. Hopefully there’s no hard feelings on either side and you can prevent that kind of thing.

  24. Two year olds don’t ‘work it out,’ because it is just not the stage they are in developmentally, so anything being asked of the two year old is a battle that would best not be chosen.

    The child of the guests sounds delightfully typical, no matter how much time she spends with other children.

    One thing I read years ago, as a means to help a child share in her own home, is to go around the house, before the guests arrive, and have the little hostess decide what is off limits, which toys, and then she doesn’t have to protect every single thing.

    This box can be dealt with on a daily basis. And for a long visit like this, why not have a guest box of forks, towels, everything, that is guest only, like the guest room, but extend it out around the house for the young children, and then so much isn’t asked of the children hosting?

    To expect everything to be shared is unrealistic. Just as it is unrealistic for the adults hosts to imagine the guests taking over their master bedroom without notice or discussion: the house doesn’t lose all boundaries for the adult guests, but it seems like they do for the child.

    No matter if the truth is that the guests are too polite and caring to tell another truth for leaving early, feel free to be a fabulous hostess and have a dessert sent to the toddler at the hotel with a note from Abigail, whatever, just don’t take it personally because even if it was about you, it’s not about you, it’s about them and they are allowed to leave early.

    Who cares what the plan was? As it is, Abigail was asked to share her space, and try to work with how the lines would shift all over the place, so the lines of your expectations for how long they would stay suddenly shifted.

    Even if they thought you were the crappiest hostess around: they’re allowed to. The black and white of it is, you now understand what Abigail was going through for 8 days, nearly 12: having her idea of how her toys and things (your calendar, plans and intentions) were set up in her mind for the way things were supposed to be, only to suddenly be in the grips of another.

    I, myself, am exhausted just by the idea of being a guest for so long, and hope Phil’s friends are having a delightful rest at the hotel.

    1. Respectfully, Marian, I love the ideas about the box of things for the guests, the forks and plates, etc. But I have to take exception to this:

      “Two year olds don’t ‘work it out,’ because it is just not the stage they are in developmentally, so anything being asked of the two year old is a battle that would best not be chosen.”

      That is just cowardly and lazy. Parents should be consistent, especially when the child is frustrated and acting up. What you’re suggesting with that sentence alone is the exact behavior that promotes “I am the center of the universe” children. A two-year-old is absolutely capable, developmentally, of having an adult teach her the right way of doing things.

      The right way of doing things, in terms of parenting, isn’t to bolt just to make her life easier.

  25. Traveling with a little one can be tricky and tiring…especially when the destination includes more little ones. Maybe while they were away from home they just wanted things to be easy. No matter how gracious a hostess (I’m sure!) you are.

    It’s always easier for me to travel with my family when we can retreat and regroup in our hotel room and know that housekeeping is going to tidy up for us too.

    The two year old doesn’t need to learn how to play nicely at your house when she’s already out of her element. And I agree — treats for Abigail for putting up with sharing bootcamp for so long!

    Curious to hear if you’ve spoken with these friends since they read this (awkward?!)

  26. I think house guests are hard. Hard for you, hard for your kids and sometimes hard just being the guest. 14 days? All the wine in the world wouldn’t make this work for me. I’m stuck on what you said about your kids sharing a room though, makes a ton of sense.

  27. I would be incredibly uncomfortable and even insulted if I tried to politely extract myself from awkward visiting arrangements only to find my actions, motives, and CHILD being dissected by commenting strangers on the internet.

    I’m curious- was Phil OK with you posting this entry? These are essentially his friends, right?

    I”m cringing at the thought of being in your shoes right now.

    1. If you were incredibly uncomfortable and insulted in this exact situation that would be of your own doing, and it would be your deeper issue and problem fueling that insult. Because if Stephanie had written that things were all peachy keen, and what an adorable toddler and such gracious guests were staying, you would NOT feel uncomfortable to find that your actions and child were being commented on by strangers. You’d likely forward the link on to friends, and say, “How nice is that!”

      Why should they care what Stephanie, or any of us, thinks of their parenting and people skills, ESPECIALLY if they feel confident about their own choices? It would only hit a nerve if they realized there was truth in it.

    2. Author

      Yes, Phil was/is OK with my posting this. I asked him before I posted it. He read it, and has now read it again, and has said “Stephanie, look at me, you did absolutely nothing wrong. What you wrote is completely valid and fair.”

      And once they read it and said they felt back-stabbed, I immediately called and apologized if my writing hurt them in any way.

      There is nothing that I wrote here in this post that I didn’t also express to the father (Phil’s college friend) in person. I told him in person that I couldn’t believe they were leaving and that just because the kids weren’t getting along was no reason to leave. It’s a learning opportunity, I said. Everything I wrote here, I also said before they left. The only part I didn’t express was how it hurt my feelings personally that they chose to leave (mostly because I realized that was my own issue – not theirs).

      1. Just think about how different this whole situation would have been if the parents had just said – you have been wonderful, we have really enjoyed our time here, but we are used to just the three of us and really need to get back into a routine. The best for us to do that is to check into a hotel. Rather than blaming it on the children.

      2. My mom always told me that you should never write anything down that you wouldn’t want someone else to find. I learned that the hard way several times, but I’ll be damned if it’s not true.

        Your friends are likely upset, not at what you wrote, but because you have an army of anonymous supporters siding with you. They probably feel embarrassed, judged, and annoyed for having this non-issue aired out on the internet for a bunch of strangers to see. And how about all the judgment about their parenting style from faceless commenters? I think if I were them I’d be pissed, too, even if I had acted a fool in the first place.

        That said, who’s the “mutual friend” who ratted you out…and are you speaking to him/her?

  28. Growing up in a military family that collected close friends from around the globe, we would have house guests for weeks at a time. Some came to stay for a month – with their three children! Many of which were not US citizens and would have crazy schedules during their trip in a effort to “get it all in” before heading back across an ocean. As an only child, these extended visits were not only learning experiences in sharing your room, toys, bathroom, food, etc. But it also taught me how to enjoy having company. You are teaching your children how to be gracious hosts. Unselfish, courteous, caring and how to be a part of someone else’s joy. At the same time it is a valuable lesson to learn how to act in someone else’ home. I too, love having guests stay – who wants the party to end? A visit like that will truly bond a friendship. Show you what the relationship is really made of. You have a chance to let your kids become lifelong friends. Teaching a child to bail when it gets a little rough? Not the way I would go.

  29. You are a saint for hosting anyone for 8 days (let alone offering for 12!) The fact that you love having company and are willing to use this time as a learning experience for all is amazing. I think that anyone who asks to stay for longer then a night or two is imposing mightily and then to leave b/c “it’s not working out” even after the hostess asks them to stay is quite rude. You have written many times before how much you enjoy hosting and I think was actually really impolite of your guests.

  30. Ha! I just read your comments further down and realize I sounded like I was summing one of them up. I’m glad to know I haven’t mischaracterized you!

  31. I’m not saying I disagree with your point about isolating the child, but you’re kind of doing the whole “With all due respect, I disrespect you” thing.

    If you want to judge someone else’s choice — which you are obviously doing — that’s perfectly fine; just don’t dress it up in the “that is their choice” stuff.

  32. As the mom of a (frequently terrible) two-year-old, I’m thinking that maybe they felt like their little one was just a little too terrible to contain? Because (after all), there is absolutely no negotiating with a two-year-old. Just a lot of willful demands followed by an energetic tantrum.

    That said, eight/nine days? WHOA. I think that is a long time for anyone. Although your guest suite sounds like it rocks.

  33. I honestly *hope* that they left for some other reason. That something else made them uncomfortable. I think leaving, if this is the real reason, is a sad disservice to their daughter. Kids have to be kids and learn to play and interact. Living our lives around our children’s bad behavior is silly and unhealthy. Not to mention a recipe for a crappy adult.

    That being said, I think what you wrote is very fair and diplomatic. You didn’t slam them at all rather than tell your perspective. If they were lying about why they chose to leave- they may be feeling guilt and disguising it as hurt feelings… #imjustsaying

  34. Um Stephanie,

    You hardly slammed them. I think you even went so far for to include a possible Mea Culpa in there. I’d question the intervening “friend’s” motives. Smells like someone else has a fish in their house!

  35. I haven’t read the comments, but on what planet is it even remotely acceptable to stay at someone else’s house for 12 days???

    1. LOL! You said it! I can entertain with some joy for a day or two but after that it is not fun. The only exception I can think of is my parents, IF they lived far away (which they don’t).

      My husband’s family differs in this regard though. Stay as long as you like and no doubt when you finally leave some old family issue has reared it’s head and you depart enemies.

      I like my family’s tradition. Stay a few nights, have a blast and then leave :)

      Whatever the issue was on them leaving early is not to be taken personally Stephanie. It could have been one of a million things, truly.

  36. Ditto, ditto, ditto on the 8/12 day visit. That’s practically moving in!

    I admire you for writing about this, especially now that Mr. and Mrs. Houseguest have read the post. Good luck.

  37. So…now I want to be friends with you and Phil even more. That sounds so awesome!

  38. I’ve left friends’ houses early on several occasions, and it was never for the reason I gave. The real reason would have been too hurtful and the friendship meant too much to me to tell the truth. Maybe they’re not being honest with you, and blaming it on the girls was their way of being polite.

      1. They are not friends of hers, they were friends of Phil’s. No discussion here – they were sick of Ms. Klein and no doubt will steer clear of Phil going forward as well.

      2. Seriously? You don’t know the benefit of little white lies? Do you always go around being brutally honest in the name of friendship? I’d think one wouldn’t have too many friends to act that way around if that were the case. I don’t choose my friends based on whether or not I find their homes to be comfortable so there is no reason to give an unsolicited opinion of their digs.

        1. If something bothered me enough to leave a friend’s house and get a hotel, then yes I’d tell the truth. I wouldn’t use my kids as a scapegoat.

  39. I think that all this judgment has made much ado out of pretty much nothing. Friends came to stay in your beautiful home in what are clearly 5-star accommodations. Their child played with yours. After a week, they decided to check into a hotel. They gave you a reason –childrens’ dynamic–that you immediately dissected and made them wrong for.

    The fact is that it’s their business. Their decision to leave, the reason they gave you: their business. Why does it matter if you, I , the rest of us agree or don’t?

    It seems like such a nothing to get all worked up about. This situation seems to be mostly about you wanting to feel right and for them to be wrong so you can be right.That’s probably how they read this entry, because it’s how I read it. No wonder they’re pissed. I don’t know if you are or you aren’t. But it just seems like it doesn’t matter.

    Who knows why they really left? The only thing to do is wish them a courteous and fond goodbye and go on with your life. And let them go on with however they want to raise their kid. It’s not like they’re abusing her.

  40. Three days house guests – max.
    The mutual friend – demutual friend it.
    The leavers – they’ve got some serious parenting to do.

  41. You may have painted them in a pretty (and fair and diplomatic) light, but I think any hard feelings might stem from the fact that a private situation was posted for the world to see and comment on. And they weren’t given a heads up that a post was about to be shared.

    One can argue that people should come to expect that any interaction with a powerful bloggess is potential fodder for a blog, but…still. I think it was an invasion of privacy. They probably feel like they are under a microscope. That’s what seems unfair to me. They probably felt awkward to begin with and now their actions are being commented on by strangers.

    I understand you had the best of intentions the entire time, but it kind of seems like you’re tattling and then running to readers, asking for validation.

  42. Oh MAN. I hate having houseguests. And you know what I hate more? Being a houseguest. A hotel room for me every time, and I hope no one is offended by that. Of course, I would never, ever have said I’d come stay with you for 12 nights or even 12 hours, so I guess that’s the difference.

    We live in San Francisco. Everyone wants to visit San Francisco. Our houseguests are welcome for short stays, but there are no guest quarters. There is a pull out couch, and there is the option of kicking our daughter out of her room to bunk with her brother. And you’re sharing a bathroom with the kids, and they are messy. Those accomodations won’t tempt anyone to spend more than a couple of nights. I feel bad about it sometimes, but honestly, who can afford a house large enough for a dedicated guest room in San Francisco?

    So you should move here. :)

  43. p.s. the only parents I’m interested in hanging out with are those who will drink wine with me and ignore the kids. I am so very done with over-involved parents. There is nothing I agree with more in your post than, “let the kids work it out.”

  44. You said it, you made your peace, let it go. What you see as your daughter’s learning opportunity may be a really embarrassing experience for them and they might be afraid that the situation will impact the friendship, not matter how much you tell them it’s fine with you.

    I know what you mean about not wanting guests to leave though! If I had my way I’d have a giant 60’s type commune in my backward and we’d have marshmallows and orgies every couple of days. Alas, my friends are not into marshmallows so much ; )

  45. I am NEVER comfortable at other people’s houses. Even my best friend’s and most relative’s- I just miss my routine, and my private time. I feel like I have to be “on” all the time, even if the hosts are wonderfully pleasant people who wouldn’t care if I let one rip at dinner. Even when it’s made clear that they want to give me my freedom, and make me feel at home, I still feel awkward and like I need to follow their lead for alone time vs. together time, etc.

    This has nothing to do with the host/hostess. Repeat: NOTHING TO DO WITH THE HOSTESS. EVERYTHING to do with the type of person I am, shy and reserved and self-conscious. The point cannot be hammered in enough: this is the type of person I am, and no amount of graciousness and fancy ammenities is going to change that fact.

    I’m also the type of person to create white lies to avoid the conflict of admitting that the above is my only reason for leaving. I’d rather give a flimsy excuse than have to explain, repeatedly, that they did nothing wrong, I’d just be more comfortable in a hotel.

    I also usually feel stupid and wrong after telling these white lies, and wish I’d just told the truth, that I was braver and more direct and able to communicate clearly. And I’d be pretty embarrassed if, after giving one of these obviously flimsy excuses, I found out it had been posted on the internet.

    It sounds like your friends are a lot like me. Not saying you did anything wrong, at all- just saying, like many others, that it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. And that they’re not bad people, or crazy, or anything- just not as sociable as you.

  46. I love your mentality and whole heartedly agree. If I am going on VACATION I am perfectly willing and eager to stay in a hotel before staying in someones home as a guest.

  47. I needed to think about this one for a while. The shittiest thing is not Phil’s friends possibly making an excuse for leaving, or their not digging into parenting the way you thought would be best, or their leaving at all. No, the shittiest thing, by a landslide, is whoever called Phil’s friends and told them, “Hey you’re being slammed on Stephanie’s blog.” Whoever did that is a major shit stirrer and hopefully not someone you or Phil consider a friend.

  48. Ok, so I don’t have kids, but I have experience as a house guest.

    NO matter how wonderful the guest room, how amazing the hostess (and it sounds like you are!), I still feel like I’m intruding, even with family. I could be invited out and plan a trip just because of the invite, but I’d rather shell out the money for a hotel room than feel like I’m invading someone’s life, where they have to be “on” all the time. Vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing. What’s relaxing about causing work for a friend you haven’t seen in awhile? A hotel is just easier, even if I spend every waking moment with my friends, I don’t have my host cleaning up my room (or my kid’s stuff) at the end of the stay. That’s a big part – at a hotel, you aren’t leaving a mess for someone you know and you don’t feel obligated to be Miss Neat Freak. It takes the pressure off. I guess I’m awkward that way.

    I don’t know your guests so I can’t speculate on their behaviour. What I can say is that I would be hard-pressed to agree to stay with someone for any length of time, let alone twelve days. So, it’s possible you are right, but more likely it’s a combination of a number of things and you were the least likely to argue with them over something like, “our kid isn’t socialized and this is too hard on her”? That being said, I think it would be extraordinarily difficult for me to leave EARLY if I made a ocmmitment, because undoubtedly something like your title comes up. I would never want my host to feel that way.

  49. Wow, add another vote to “impressed that you hosted/offered for so long.” We don’t host much, but it factors in that our house has 1200 square feet and 1 bathroom. Oh, how I envy you! In fact, I just searched for and reread your luxe guest room post to get ready for company this weekend. (On a tangent, any advice for avoiding awkward conversation with a friend experiencing fertility issues, while I have 2 toddlers?)

    As a variation on the theme of not taking thing personally, are you familiar with the concept “goodness of fit?” Usually a developmental psych/education thing, but I play fast and loose. I (perhaps too often) find it comforting to consider “It wasn’t so much my fault or yours; just a poor fit.” *Fine print may read: “Because I’m right, and you aren’t.”

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