Waterloo Region Record

Do you really have to leave so soon?


Both of my grown adult children came for a visit recently.

It was great to get together as a family again — just the four of us. We ate, we talked, we laughed. It was also great because they could only stay one night then had to get back to their busy lives.

I know that sounds bad but, sorry kids, short visits are the best visits. Two nights might be all right. Three nights? That’s pushing it.

During their short visit, the kids told me they were thinking it might be nice to move back home. I called their bluff — I hope it was a bluff — and told them I knew of a few companies that were hiring.

They called my bluff to their bluff and said, oh, no, we don’t plan to get jobs.

And we laughed.

Truth is, I’m not a bad person for getting agitated when my children overstay their welcome.

Authorities such as Lonely Planet and the Emily Post Institute agree two or three nights is the longest any house guest should stay.

There’s even a saying about it. Something about fish and house guests. Fish start to stink after three days — so do house guests. Something like that. But then, house guests can just use your shower and your good toiletries and clean themselves up and stay longer.

Maybe you’re supposed to hide a fish in the guest room? After three days, your guests will think your house smells and they’ll just leave — possibly offering a weak excuse and feeling guilty for cutting their visit short.

How else do you ensure you and your guests agree on an acceptable length of stay? When family or friends say they are coming for a visit, how much time do you need to put between, “Great! Can’t wait to see you!” and “You’re only staying two nights, right?”

I’ve been on the receiving end of the ol’ “wish you could stay longer (not really)” routine. My own mother has given me the “good to see you, sorry you have to leave so soon” treatment.

She has downsized in recent years from a house to a condo. It’s beautiful and comfortable and I’m so glad she’s there.

It even has two bathrooms and enough space for guests — if she wanted space for guests.

She does have a pullout couch in one of those rooms and I did sleep on it — once.

It is the most uncomfortable pullout couch ever. It’s not that it’s old. It’s not like the mattress has been condensed to the thickness of a paper towel.

This thing is brand new and it’s the worst. It pulls out in a way that there is a solid piece of wood right across your lower back. The only way to avoid it is to contort yourself into a sort of L shape, which is even less comfortable than it sounds.

I can’t even imagine how two people could fit on this thing. They’d have to form an H. Or maybe a T.

I just thought she made a poor decision when she chose it. But now I’m thinking she knew exactly what she was buying. Mom is brilliant.

If you don’t want to shop for the most uncomfortable HideA-Bed ever, there are other things you can do to make your guests’ stay just subtly less than ideal in hopes they will choose to move along.

You could put the cat’s litter box in the guest bedroom.

You could pretend that you always lounge around in only your underpants in the evening.

Or you could start enjoying music — a lot. Be sure to play it at high volume and pick something that’s sure to make your guests want to pack their bags. Could be heavy metal. Could be country. Could be polka. Could be “My Humps” by Black Eyed Peas on repeat. It doesn’t matter.

Even better still — you could take up playing an instrument. If you start playing the drums or trombone, your guests are sure to take flight. It doesn’t have to be loud either. Pick up an acoustic guitar, pluck some nonsense and insist your guests guess the song or even better — make them sing along.






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