Grueling Hospitality

by admin on September 11, 2017

My DH has a friend, DN who is married and has 3 kids. DN has been someone who I didn’t “click” with from the first moment I met him (it may have been the fact that he didn’t tell me he had a potentially deadly allergy to a food I served him until he almost ate it, even though my hubby asked for his likes/dislikes and allergies). When I met his wife (AN) we “clicked” until the 2nd time we really talked. She would say things that weren’t accurate and would let her kids do things I had just asked them not to do (like climb over baby gates put up for safety). For this and other reasons, I chose not to associate with them in our personal space (I will be polite, smile etc if I run into them in public). If DH wants to hang out with DN he will go there or arrange to meet at a park, etc. DH knows I am not comfortable with the N family and tries to take my feelings into account without hurting his friendship with DN.

As a compromise, we agreed to invite the N family over maybe every 3 months. DH invited them over for dinner and then my youngest (6 month old baby) got sick. Nothing bad, but coughing and low grade fever. I was concerned that she might have something contagious and told DH to call the N family and reschedule (they have a baby 4 months older so I was concerned about their baby). Even though the N family knew we were concerned about passing on something to their family, it took DH to tell them we were cancelling the dinner and would reschedule for them to not show up.

When we did reschedule, we also invited the T family over (JT, NT and kids). They had kids about the same age as everyone else and we thought it would increase the fun for the kids. Because of scheduling we had told both families a time frame (ex from 2 pm -4 pm) that we would be able to host. This was mostly for the N family or they would spend the entire day despite hints to leave.

The day of the meal and everyone shows up (N family is late). We had planned a dinner that was a kid pleaser, but would also appeal to adults. We were also lucky to have a beautiful spring day so the kids were able to play outside before and after the meal.

When we finally got down to serving, the T parents and my DH and I started serving our kids and getting them situated in the kitchen (vs the dining room where we ran out of room) before we served ourselves. DH and I then had to serve the N children. Both N parents served themselves and started eating and only really concerned with their almost 1 yr old and ignored the 4 and 2 yr olds.

After we were done eating, we let the kids go out to play and I started putting away things. The T family parents made sure all of their kids took care of their plates and that their kids put them in a place I had designated. The N family parents laughed and made comments of how messy the baby was (as a mother of 3, I wasn’t surprised).

NT offered to help with dishes, which I appreciated, but waved off. AN during this time told her husband to make her another full plate to take home, without asking if it were ok. If she had asked, I probably would have said it was fine, but she just started having him load up a paper plate for her to take home (I wish I had told her that I was sorry, but I had plans for the leftovers, but that thought didn’t come until after we finally got them to leave).

While the kids were outside playing, AN tried to only allow her kids to play with mine, even though the T family had children that were much closer in age (ours are 2 yrs older) and ours were playing with things that were too old (maturity wise) for the N kids. She also actively discouraged her older kids from playing with the other kids and disregarded the safety of the almost 1 year old. I had to tell both parents 3xs that their son was crawling on my non baby proofed deck (and was about to climb over both of them to get him) before they noticed.

When the time we had set as the end was up, the T family rounded themselves up and left in a flurry of happy, tired kids and thanks. The N family kept trying to sit back down and stay. AN started a conversation about babies. During this conversation (about breastfeeding) I had to continually remind the N kids to put on shoes, jackets, etc as well as herd them towards the door. The only time DN joined the conversation was to tell both DH and myself that he hates it when his wife breastfeeds b/c it makes her fat. Both DH and I had the deer in headlights look and DH finally managed a response about how breastfeeding is my choice and he supports it.

We finally managed to get the N family out 1/2 hour after the dinner ended (and the other family left). DH went to help our oldest study for school and I started doing clean up. Where the T family and our family had sit, it was reasonably clean. Where the N family sat, there was food all over the floor and not all of it was around the high chair where the N baby sat. I was not expecting the N family to leave my house spotless, but after watching the T family and ours clean up, I would have assumed they would have tried to clean up a little.

Between leaving a huge mess (and showing no attempt at cleaning up) and the horrible comments the DN said about his wife in front of her (and in company), DH has agreed that we will no longer host the N family. 0329-16

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

DGS September 11, 2017 at 8:39 am

The N family sounds insufferable and clueless, a terrible combination. You have given them a fair chance; now, continue being polite and civil when you run into them in public, and if you choose to socialize with them (with the T family or any other family in tow), don’t do it in your home – pick a public park (the kids can play on a playground, and you can serve food on picnic tables) or meet them at an activity space (children’s museum or gymnasium, etc.) where you can quickly pack up and disengage if need be, as opposed to feeling like a prisoner-turned-maid in your own home.

It may have been, though, that the N husband did not know that you did not know about his allergies; he may have assumed that your husband told you about those, but regardless, they sound boorish, overbearing and overwhelming. Minimize your contact with them and do not host them in your home under any circumstances.

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Marozia September 12, 2017 at 4:02 am

Sounds like a good plan to me. No boors in the home.

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Anon September 11, 2017 at 9:40 am

I’m really not sure about all of this, but it sort of seems like the “N” parents seem to use these sorts of events as a way for THEM to relax and use the hosts as free babysitters? I think that’s what I’m getting out of this. Because it sounds like they were enjoying themselves and didn’t expect to actually do any parenting.

I’m not sure how this would be addressed other than not inviting them over anymore. I wouldn’t say the “N” people are… awful. But they do seem to pretty out of it when it comes to what they need to do as parents and how to be good guests.

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AS September 11, 2017 at 10:32 am

First of all, instead of the “N family” and “T family”, and other alphabets, how about use some common last names like the “Nelsons” and the “Thompsons” or something like that? It kept acting as a speed-breakers while reading.

It is good that you don’t plan to invite the Ns over anymore. Kids doing dangerous stuff that parents don’t supervise can be a liability for the hosts.

It is also a cogent idea to tell the people point-blank that you are rescheduling. Just saying that “our child has a cough, and low grade fever, and we are worried that he/she will pass something to your children” can mean that you are throwing the ball at the parent’s court, and they can decide whether they want to expose their children to a child with cold or not. Many parents don’t mind a slight cough and cold as children are exposed to them all the time anyway in daycares/schools, public places, etc.. I wouldn’t hold that against the Ns.

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TracyX September 12, 2017 at 7:24 am

Especially when you use NT For someone. Took a minute to realize if they were part of the good T family or bad N family.

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NoviceGardener September 11, 2017 at 11:44 am

At least this story has a happy ending, in that your DH has realised that the N family are not people you will host in the future.

I’ve noticed that there are some people that just seem to believe they are a gift to this world, and that we should all be grateful for any opportunity to interact with them. These are the people that make a mess with no offer or effort to help clean up, the people who make crass comments and tasteless jokes and expect everyone to guffaw in appreciation, and the people who believe that we mere mortals are lucky host them. The N parents sound like such gems.

The only time DN joined the conversation was to tell both DH and myself that he hates it when his wife breastfeeds b/c it makes her fat. Hoo boy. If my husband had a friend who made a remark like that, you can bet he wouldn’t be his friend for much longer. (I don’t mean that I would’ve demanded he cease the friendship, or that my husband would’ve made a dramatic scene, I just mean that my husband would quietly stop being friends with that guy. Uuurgh.)

Both DH and I had the deer in headlights look and DH finally managed a response about how breastfeeding is my choice and he supports it. Well you both did a lot better than I can imagine doing. It’s all very well to think of the perfect reaction in hindsight, but most of us go about our lives not expecting to encounter such boorish twerps. Personally I think you and your husband did extremely well.

The other happy ending of this story is that the T family sound like delightful guests! I’m not sure how well you knew them before this event, but they sound like a lovely family that you can have a great time getting together with in the future.

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amydkw September 11, 2017 at 11:53 am

You are very lucky that DH “gets it” and supports you in this.

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Dee September 11, 2017 at 2:23 pm

I’m more than a little surprised it took this much to stop hosting the N family. It worked well for OP’s husband to visit his friend without OP, and OP’s family could easily have suggested non-hosting activities in-between those visits (each family brings their own picnic to a park and meets up there, etc.). I guess better late than never?

But it seems to me that OP has far more of a husband problem than an N family problem. In this whole story OP’s husband, the one who is the friend of the N family, doesn’t seem to be involved with managing his friends at all. That inequity seems to be the reason for most of the problems in this story. The N family isn’t really the main problem, they just bring that main problem to the fore, which will still exist as a problem in each new situation unless it’s dealt with.

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CW September 11, 2017 at 2:43 pm

OP, you made it clear from the beginning that you don’t really like this couple so I’m not at all surprised that you find fault in everything they do.

That being said, yes, when in someone else’s home, it is polite to refrain from making a mess or helping to clean up if a mess happens. That and taking a plate to go without being offered are quite rude. I have a feeling that if they hadn’t have made a mess, you would have come up with some other reason to not spend time with that family anymore.

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Tricia September 13, 2017 at 2:15 pm

I felt the same way reading this. It’s clear that the OP doesn’t like the N family. This message wreaks of “I’m good; they’re bad. Tell me I’m right.”

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Vrinda September 11, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Why were you even hosting these idiots in the first place? You said you didn’t click with the husband or wife before this incident took place and did not want them in your personal space. Even then, if you had to host them, you should have made it clear that they had to clean up after themselves when they started eating. And to allow the wife to take an extra plate of food and say you didn’t think of something to say until it was too late? Not an excuse. You should have stood your ground and told her she could not do so. You already had negative feelings about these people before this dinner party occurred, so the fact that they might act inappropriately should not have been far from your mind.

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lakey September 11, 2017 at 10:57 pm

I think that the only thing that really bothered me about the N family’s behavior would be taking it upon themselves to take home leftovers.
The other issues seem to be pretty common when you have 3 families with multiple children. The kids aren’t always supervised well, and they make a bit of a mess while eating. Also some guests offer to help the hosts clean up more than other guests.
When you dislike people, I think that it is a mistake to invite them over. Everything they do is going to annoy you.

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Kamatari September 12, 2017 at 10:55 am

Just because the “other issues” are common, doesn’t make them any less rude.

If you are in someone else’s home with your kids, you need to clean up after them. The only excuse not to is that the(a) child needed to be rushed to the hospital.

While it may be true that kids aren’t always supervised as well as they should, I should be able to reasonably expect that the alm0st 1 year old will be constantly supervised by its parents.

The OP stated in the post that hosting the N family was a compromise to the husband. How does that make it a mistake?

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iwadasn September 16, 2017 at 9:03 pm

I think insulting his wife to her face, in front of company, was by far the worst breach of etiquette.

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NostalgicGal September 12, 2017 at 12:57 am

At least your DH bought the clue and the N family will be friends further from the house from now on.

Some don’t get a clue even with multiple examples right in front of them. Sounds like much worse got dodged here.

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Aleko September 12, 2017 at 3:21 am

Actually, while I’m sure the event was gruelling, I’d say that was an excellent result.

If the Ns had only been intermittently annoying (and I agree with lakey that if you invite people on sufferance you will always find *something* they do annoying) OP would have been left on ‘occasional-hospitality’ terms with people she really doesn’t like. As it is, they have blotted their copy-book so comprehensively that her course is clear and her husband, it seems (she doesn’t actually say so) agrees: his male-buddy friendship can continue but there is no family-to-family relationship.

“I wish I had told her that I was sorry, but I had plans for the leftovers, but that thought didn’t come until after we finally got them to leave.”

I’m not surprised. If any guest of mine had calmly started packing up my food to take away, as though my home were a restaurant and they had paid for it, I reckon I would also have been too gobsmacked to put my foot down. (I gather from this board that boors sometimes do this at potlucks and other contributory occasions – I’ve no experience of this as potlucks are much less usual here in Rightpondia – but that’s a rather different situation.) In any case, I think it’s very lucky OP didn’t summon up the words to tell them to stop. It would only have caused overt unpleasantness, and could have made her look like the meanie. It was well worth a plate of leftovers to have it made crystal clear that these were not people who will ever be invited back.

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Yasuragi September 12, 2017 at 5:32 am

Heh, this could be my sister but OP didn’t mention any untrained dogs leaving stains all over the carpet.

I once left her house to find she or her husband had shoved a dirty diaper into my boot. Because my boots were right there and the garbage was waaaay over there.

I think I remember reading here or in the archives about a family backyard BBQ. The hosts had a similar family of wolves over and after changing the baby the father looked around, saw no garbage can and tossed the dirty diaper into the bushes right there in front of everyone. Hosts were of course angry and wolf father didn’t understand why.

Bloody savages.

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Semperviren September 12, 2017 at 8:48 am

I think this is a pretty common situation – that one member of a couple has a friend or two that the other just doesn’t “click with” and I agree the best solution is for them to socialize on their own, somewhere away from your home. Your complaints are a mix of genuinely rude behavior on their part (leaving a big mess, allowing their kids to do things that are against your rules) and the sort of trivial stuff that’s not “rude” exactly, but which you notice and gets under your skin when you just plain don’t like someone. These people irritate you. That’s valid, and the best solution, without your DH having to end the friendship is to 1) limit your time around them and 2) control the location.

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Victoria September 13, 2017 at 10:37 am

These were your husband’s friends. Why were you the one doing the cleaning?

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