My niece has come and gone. With a host of friends. Seven of them, in fact.
Normally I enjoy my guests a great deal although I tend to fret a lot over the cooking - is it good? is it enough?- this time though, I really didn't enjoy myself.
I was asking myself whether I'm getting too old to handle numbers. Not really, when this summer I coped with more. Was is that they left lights and heaters on, wet towels everywhere, sheets unfolded, plates on the table, and generally behaved like they were at home? No not really since the new generation does seem to live like that, they never stop to think where the meals and comfort are coming from; life is a given. Until they have to cope on their own.
Of course now I've got to the stage where I think basic manners should be drilled into kids. And they should be allowed to go and stay with other people more often, so that they learn to share and care and adjust to new circumstances.
Then I realised it was because I was bored. These kids hardly spoke to me. They gave one syllable answers to all my questions which grew to a sentence over three days. They never became easy enough to say yes, if they really wanted coffee or tea. Polite answers. They were hardly at home anyway except to eat and sleep and they would either talk among themselves or on the cell phone. It wasnt easy to get intimate with a crowd; one or two would have been easier. Of course they were shy.
From their point of view, it was a terrific achievement to have 'got away' from their parents; to have organised a trip on their own and make decisions for themselves.So they were busy revelling in their freedom.
This summer, I had two nephews to stay for a week. When I ranted at them for leaving blankets on the floor,( I could rant since they were family) they would just smile and say 'stay cool'. Which is really nice. Because you dont want to be the bad guy even if you rant. You would prefer other people to stay cool.
I just had to say 'food is read..' and they would be at the table, eat magnificently, pronounce everything wonderful and then disappear. But in between, they would entertain me with insights into their parents which did keep me laughing like mad and other stuff which was really enlightening.
SO KIDS, THERE AIN'T ANYTHING LIKE A FREE MEAL! YOU GOTTA SING FOR YOUR SUPPER!!