Etiquette School is in session! > "I'm afraid that won't be possible."

No, They Can't Spend The Night

(1/7) > >>

This probably won't be an issue for some time, but knowing my extended family it eventually will be.  If the subject does come up, I know that there will be a ruckus no matter what I say, but I'm trying to figure out a way to run damage control.

Here's the issue: things have mostly been swept under the rug with my uncle and his family, and my mother is on speaking terms with them again.  Things are okay, but I stand by my decision to only interact with them when we happen to be getting together.  Recently, my mother agreed to watch my two little cousins, aged 3 and 1.  To say that the 3-year-old is busy is an understatement, and though I love the kids to death, I wasn't pleased that I got roped into being "hands-on" when it was my mother who had signed on for it.  The 3-year-old, who still isn't potty-trained, took off her wet pull-up and sat on the couch before I could stop her.  I was really out of my element there!  Babies I can handle, but the older one wore me out.  We discussed it after the kids went home, and she said she would respect my decision next time.  Yeah...we'll see.  ::)

Thing is, when their parents came to pick them up (an hour late, but we expected that), my uncle mentioned having the kids sleep over one of these nights.  This is a problem for several reasons.  One, we don't have a spare bedroom, and the 3-year-old won't obey.  Two, the dog and cats would be upset.  And three (because my grandmother once said, "Oh, she can stay in CrochetFanatic's room" the last time the subject came up), my room is a child-free zone.  I like my privacy, the bookcase is not anchored to the wall, and I've got all sorts of things that I don't want the kids messing with or breaking.  In short, an overnight stay is not gonna happen!

So, here's my question.  We're going to say no, because it really doesn't work for us, but I'm trying to think of a polite way to put it that will be less likely to start something, and doesn't involve JADEing.  I can see it now...

Me: My bookcase isn't anchored to the wall--
Them: Well, can't you just anchor it to the wall, then?

First of all, it's not my wall.  Second of all, I don't tell them what to do with their living space.  Would it be rude of me to say, "Sorry, I don't want them going in there."?  Please don't interpret this as my saying the kids aren't welcome.  They are, the just can't spend the night.

Your best bet is to not JADE and to be firm. Your answers have to be vague so they don't try to give you a solution like "just anchor it to the wall, then."

You need to be a broken record. Answer the same way every time.

Aunt/Uncle: 3-year-old is excited to stay the night with you!
You: Sorry, that won't be possible.

Aunt/Uncle: What about next month then? Do you have plans then?
You: Sorry, that won't be possible.

Aunt/Uncle: But, surely, you don't have plans that far in advance. What weekend does work for you?
You: Sorry, that won't be possible.

Aunt/Uncle: Don't you like my 3-year-old?
You: Sorry, that won't be possible.

Aunt/Uncle: But I don't understand. I thought you adored her.
You: I do. It's still not possible.

Aunt/Uncle: But we want to have a romantic date night.
You: Sorry, that won't be possible.

Aunt/Uncle: Grandma said you were free to babysit Friday night.
You: She misspoke. Sorry, that won't be possible.

Grandma: Come on. Aunt and Uncle need a night away.
You: Sorry, that won't be possible. I'm sure there's a babysitter in their neighborhood.

Grandma: But I told them you'd do it. You told me you were staying in on Friday night.
You: Then you misunderstood. Sorry, that won't be possible. Now, you must tell Aunt and Uncle that you misspoke and I will not be watching the 3-year-old all night.

Grandma: But why can't you call them? I will not be telling them any such thing.
You: Sorry, that won't be possible. If there's a knock at the door Friday night, I will be unable to answer it.

Once again, I think you're in a bit of a pickle. You live with your parents. So, in many ways you don't get a say. If Grandma wants the kids over, she can have them. But, you can choose to not be there. You can choose to tell your Mom that you will leave if they show up, and that she should never count on your help unless she clears it with you first.

I would think that if she wanted her grandkids to spend the night, she could have them use an air mattress (or even a crib still) in the living room.

While I agree with Danika's approach--that you find one response and stick with it--it is a little harder to pull this off with family, for several reasons.

So I'd find a response that includes the fact that you aren't willing to take the kids overnight, but also adds in what you *are* willing to do. It will make it seem as if you are trying to work with them, instead of just throwing stone walls up in their faces.

"I'm sorry, we can't take the kids overnight. We can take them from 5 pm to 10 pm, if that helps."

"I'm sorry, it's just not possible to take the kids overnight here. But I can watch them overnight at your house." *

"I'm sorry, we can't watch the kids on weeknights past 8 pm. But we can take them on a weekend until 10 pm, if that works for you."

*Watching kids at their own house is, IMO, a lot easier than watching them where you live. A house with kids tends to be child-proofed, all their toys and games are there, and if you have to put them to bed, it's usually easier to do when you are putting them in their own bed and not a strange bed in a strange room. The fact that your belongings stay safely away from the kids is an added bonus.

1- Put a lock on your door, if possible. If not, make sure Mom/Grandma know that your room is off limits.
2- Make other plans for the evening, or plan to stay in your room.

I really don't think you can make the decision that overnights are not allowed. It's not your house, and  you're not the one agreeing to babysit. All you really have the right to control is what your involvement will be, and if you want that to be none then you have to make it so.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version