Can We Leave Now?

by admin on July 19, 2012

During breaks from college, I always go back to my parents’ house and due to some happy planning, their house is located very close to my uncle’s house. Many times he, my aunt and their 11 year old daughter drop by unexpectedly just to chat.

It’s always pleasing to have them over since they’re family, but my main issue is the way my cousin acts. Even though her parents sit down, she continually hovers near the door and reprimands my uncle and aunt if they stay too long or start watching TV with us with something along the lines of, “We have a TV at home, why are you watching TV here?”

I understand that kids have a short attention span but she’s in 6th grade and still acts much younger, and consistently asks when she can go home, to my poor parents’ faces. The worst was when my mom set a meal out for her and instead of sitting down and eating it, my cousin ran out of the door saying that she was going to eat dinner at home.

I have grown irritated by my cousin’s actions after many years and have realized that I act a bit frostier towards her even though in my mind I try to convince myself that “she’s just a child.” However when both my sister and myself were that age, we had more decorum when visiting my aunt and uncle’s house.

Is there any way I can fix this problem by either changing my own mentality towards her or employing a passive-aggressive way of making her sit down and behave? 0629-12

 

Other than buying her something to capture her attention (I am under the belief that grandmom’s house should have a wealth of intriguing things for grandkids to do), I don’t see where you have many other options other than learning to tune her out until she is an adult.

{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

Cat July 20, 2012 at 11:36 am

Reminds me of my family. My brother would yell and scream, demanding to be taken home immediately and, if my parents didn’t leave upon command, would begin walking home by himself.
I, on the other hand, liked to listen to whomever was speaking.I learned a great deal about my parents as people and about my relatives. My uncle, an alcoholic being supported by a wife half his age, would make racist remarks and expound upon what a great man he was-what a manly man should be.
Mother could never understand why I disliked her beloved brother. In listening I learned how good people behave and think, and I learned the values and behaviors I would emulate and those I would reject.
I would think an eleven year old would be resourceful enough to either entertain herself, bring something in which she is interested,or to accept that we all are bored on occasion and it is not a blank check to be rude to ones family.

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Cat Whisperer July 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm

It’s interesting to see how the 11-year-old girl’s situation has struck a nerve with so many people.

The things I actually hated about being dragged along to visit my aunt and uncle:

My mom made me dress up in “company clothes.” Hated it, hated it, hated it: I never wore dresses by choice. I felt uncomfortable tricked out in gooney clothes that I felt were phoney, and of course I couldn’t actually play or engage in any physical activities while wearing those damned dresses.

Oh, the hypocrisy that was on display by the grown-ups! My mom and dad would make plenty of catty comments about my aunt and uncle and their circumstances on the way to see them. And then we’d get there, and everyone was all “oh, it’s so good to see you!” and then they’d sit down and gossip about all kinds of things, and then we’d go home and my mom and dad would chew over all the news from my aunt and uncle with fresh vinegar and cattiness. And I had absolutely no doubt that my aunt and uncle were doing the same thing about our family.

The absolute garbage that my parents would trot out about me. It was absolutely as if the person I really was wasn’t good enough, or interesting enough, to be presented. My parents wouldn’t/couldn’t talk about the things that were my real interests, the things I enjoyed. It was all about school and clubs and church and things that were, to me, mostly things I put up with, not things I identified with myself. It was as if my parents had to make up a “pretend” daughter out of bits and pieces of the real me, discarding the parts that they regarded as inconsequential or unsuitable and patching together a dummy out of the stuff that they considered acceptable for aunt and uncle to know.

The taboos: every visit had as its prelude the briefing from my parents about things I wasn’t to talk about: problems they were having, fights they’d had, things that had been going on that they didn’t want aunt and uncle to know about. Everything was fine. Everything was always fine. Everything was smooth and perfect and peachy-keen, even when it wasn’t.

The fishing expedition: aunt and uncle would try to fish the taboos out of me, get me to spill the beans about stuff my mom and dad wanted to keep the lid on. And my mom and dad would use me in the same way, pumping me for things my aunt and uncle might have said to me that would give them the goods on what was really going on in aunt and uncle’s world.

The food: it’s not that my aunt was a worse cook than my mom, but the things she would serve when we were there just weren’t things that we ever ate at home. Lentil soup? Hungarian goulash? Fish with a cream sauce? I don’t know if it was good or not, because it was so different from what I was used to eating, and as most kids are, I wasn’t adventurous. Some of the food was absolutely repulsive to me, but I had to at least go through the motions of trying to eat it without revulsion. Hated it!

When I was in my teens, I finally had enough: I dug my heels in and told my mom and dad I wasn’t going with them on visits. I caught hell from them, but the hell I caught was preferable to the hell that visiting meant, so I stood firm. And I was never sorry I did.

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Alice July 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Joining the rest of the folks here agreeing that she’s bored.

When I was 11 as well, my parents often went to dinner parties with friends of theirs and I was brought along. Fortunately the bigger kids there were kind enough to let me play with them, or at least lend me something to entertain myself with, but at the end of the night I couldn’t wait to go home already and would give passive-aggresive signs that I wanted to leave.

It could also be that this girl is frustrated by the seemingly randomness of these visits (OP mentions that they drop by unexpected), maybe if she had a better idea of when these visits will occur and how long they will last she won’t be as insistant to leave immediately. On the other hand, her parents will have to stick to the schedule, otherwise they will lose their daughter’s trust.

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justme July 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm

It’s one thing to be bored, but someone her age should have better manners. Running out the door when her family is sitting down to eat? That’s just crazy. Even if they weren’t initially planning to stay for dinner, at her age she needs to learn how to respond appropriately to other peoples’ hospitality. Good on her parents for not giving in, and letting a child control their social life (although it sounds like maybe they could prepare her better before coming over–or leave her at home with a sitter).

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Angel July 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Put me in the camp that sympathizes with the little girl. I think that for frequent visits she should at least be allowed to bring a book with her, or what about a DS (provided she has one)? Both my kids have DS’s and they are allowed to bring it with them whenever we go to gatherings like this (where other kids are not going to be). They have cases for them and everything. And also if there is a limit to the visit and the parents agree upon the time to leave, that can go a long way as well.

That being said, the little girl’s behavior is rude, no doubt about it. But at that point one or both of her parents need to take her aside and correct the behavior. Not allow it to continue. Sometimes kids have to learn that not every place they visit will cater to kids.

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River July 22, 2012 at 6:31 am

I’m probably going against the grain here, but I have no sympathy for the child at all. At the age of 11 (which was not so long ago), even if I was bored at my parents’ friends’ houses, I would not nag, whine or do anything rude while we were there because doing so is wrong.

I honestly don’t understand why everyone thinks people have to drop everything to go and entertain a child (especially an 11 year old). What is wrong with the child having to daydream for a while? It just seems like everyone these days is so caught up in keeping the precious children happy that they’re forgetting that patience needs to be learned. This girl may grow out of it. Or she may grow up expecting everyone to drop everything for her whenever she wants. I think some self discipline is needed in this girl’s case. Then again, maybe that’s what her parents are trying to do!

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Kry July 22, 2012 at 6:50 am

Ok, I am bucking the simpathy for the girl trend here.

As a mother of an 11 year old girl (and the eldest cousin with over 30 years between me and the youngest cousin) I know the attention span they can have, but I am seeing more and more “Kids need to be entertained constantly” attitudes that I disagree with.

Yes, I say, let them get bored sometimes, let them sit through adults talking, and let them discover that the world does not revolve around their wishes. Has the girl tried to join the conversations that she understands? When she stands in the doorway, has anyone invited her to sit down? Ask her specificly and see what happens. “Hi cousin, sit next to me?”

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Just4kicks July 22, 2012 at 7:05 am

I agree she may be bored, but I also agree she is old enough to know better and is being rude. Our youngest is eight and there is no way she would be allowed to act in such a manner. If we are going somewhere, she knows to pack a little knapsack filled with things to keep her busy. I still remember being a little girl and my mom turning around over the back seat of our car and saying to my sister and I “you’re dressed like ladies…ACT like ladies!”

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whoopydoo July 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I guess our comments here to try to help OP with a solution? Maybe OP is old enough and mature enough to know a bored kid when s/he sees one, and take the kid outside and start a conversation. Get some ice cream or go to the bedroom and listen to music? Sure, we can sit here all day and lamblast the kid, but what good does that do anybody? I think a good host, of which the OP is that here, should figure out what’s eating the kid and try to make friends. Otherwise, this is the parent’s issue, and OP doesn’t need to worry about it.

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Elle July 24, 2012 at 1:43 am

OMG, going over to someone’s place as a guest and then they decide to watch a TV program? *I’m* barely mature enough to refrain from impolite huffing, watch checking, door hovering, and whining. And I’ve got two decades on this poor girl.

And figure a minimum of two hours of this a week, not including travel time? I mean, yeah she shouldn’t be asking if they can go home already, but losing that much free time is a *horrible* imposition. Realistically, how polite would you feel and be if every week after work you had to sit in a meeting with the accounting department for two hours (or more) while they discussed things you didn’t understand, didn’t care about, and at least one of them was giving you the cold shoulder. Also, the food is weird and they have mind-numbingly boring powerpoints. (no offense to folks in the account department. I’m sure y’all have wild parties :) )

If you want her to behave like a proper guest then be a proper host. Provide for her comfort. Just like you wouldn’t invite your friends over and ignore them to watch TV or gossip with someone else, don’t ignore her. Get a bag of frozen chicken fingers and some comic books. Talk to her about her horseback riding lessons or if she’s seen Brave yet. Maybe while all you adults are talking you can do it around Apples to Apples or Sorry so she can be part of at least a portion of what is going on.

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Goldie July 24, 2012 at 10:32 am

@ River, she does not expect the adults to drop everything and entertain her. She just does not want to come over, and her aunt and uncle drag her along anytime they want to visit because they think it’s against some local law for a 11yo to be home alone or whatever.

As for how often this happens, one of my next door neighbors has family living two streets down and they’re over at each 0ther’s houses every day. These guys live next door to each other, so I figure we’re talking daily visits, each several hours long. That’s way too much for anyone to be forced to visit anyone else, unless the person you’re visiting is sick or disabled and requires your daily care.

Elle, I really like your accounting department analogy! Powerpoints… brilliant!

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Emmy July 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I’m an only child, and an only grandchild, I grew up being the only kid at all adult functions. And frankly, adults are boring when you’re under the legal drinking age. I’m still bored by adults sometimes (yes, in the summer the weather is hot; yes, the economy does suck; yes, I’d love to hear more about your bad knee, will someone please pass the wine?), so I get where she coming from.

But, what are aunt and uncle doing to make sure she doesn’t behave this way? Is she told not to whine? Is she ever told, we will go home at X time? Do aunt and uncle stick to going home at X time? Remember, all her stuff, is at her house. And her stuff is awesome. Mostly because it is her’s. You aren’t bored in your parents’ home because it is your parents’ home. It probably has some of your awesome stuff too! Rather then just giving her the cold shoulder (I get the idea you’re the one closest to her age), why not ask her what’s going on at school? Offer to play a game with her? If she still acts like a brat you can say “Hey, cuz, I know it sucks being the only kid, but I’m trying to have some fun with you, so come on, what have you been up to lately?”, I remember thinking my aunt (who is 9 years older then me) was the coolest person on earth when I was 11. She had a nose ring. She went to cool concerts. She drove a cool jeep. She was awesome. So if she willing to talk to me, I was thrilled. Maybe your cousin will think you’re awesome.

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myconscience July 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm

The dinner parties and unannounced visits were always at my parents house, and usually, the guests did not bring their children. So speaking from the alternate view, I found this a fantastic opportunity to go read a book, practice music, or write in a journal. The child should be permitted to bring someting entertaining along, or have the option to go play at a friends house instead. If the adults are going to ignore the child, why should she be there? Include her in conversation or let her do her own thing.

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Nick July 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm

+1 to Emmy. My brother and I are the only two people of our age in the entire family, and it’s far-flung enough that we don’t even have the option of walking home. (And, once we learned to drive, we would have to deal with the fallout from deserting our parents to return home via 5-8 hour drives if we ever decided to leave. So we didn’t.)

It sounds to me that she feels emotionally distant from her family- which may just be me reading my own experiences into it. I’m nearly twenty and don’t know my extended family at all- I barely remember their names. Maybe college person is a little frostier- I’ve not had to deal with 6th graders in a while, seeing as the current crop of kids are about 5 at the oldest, and I’m apparently the kind of cousin who is good with kids (read: finds it more preferable to be a human jungle gym than listen to really old people natter on and on and ON about their health problems). And hey, even if it doesn’t bring me any closer to my aged relations, I’m liked because I keep the kids busy, watched, and out of the way.

Maybe they’re just not a kids person. But maybe they can find some common ground- it’s obvious the kid doesn’t have any input, and turning around and including everyone and being a good role model can have an effect on these things.

myconscience said it well: “If the adults are going to ignore the child, why should she be there? Include her in conversation or let her do her own thing.”

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Enna July 30, 2012 at 11:44 am

Maybe she is bored? Okay that is no excuse for bad behaviour but you can’t expect an 11 year old girl to sit and do nothing. The parents should maybe do something like get her into reading or making sure she has something to do like drawing a picture etc.

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erica September 9, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I have an 11 yr old. While he does get impatient sometimes…I have no problem telling him to knock it off, he’s being rude. I also don’t routinely subject him to lengthy stays with people he doesn’t like or has absolutely nothing to do.

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