My husband and I live near a fall destination, and every year my parents plan a three-week visit. My parents are pushy, overbearing people. Everything must be done their way. They decide on what we all do every hour of the day, announce places for us to take them, and expect our undivided attention the entire time (no socializing with our friends or spending time on hobbies). All while my husband and I have full-time jobs. After they leave it takes us weeks to recover. They pay for everything while they're here and buy (unasked for) expensive items for us. Sometimes it’s stuff we really need (a new stove) while other times it's an item we don't want (a deep freezer). This makes my reluctance to have them visit difficult to explain: I can’t use the excuse we’re unable to afford hosting them for three weeks. How do I get them to stop hijacking my life every fall?
—Frazzled With a Nice Patio
Just as you’re ready to enjoy the lovely fall foliage, your parents descend on you annually like leaf blight. Sure, you might be temped to spray them with fungicide as a way of banishing them, but I’m afraid you’re just going to have to stop quaking and, since you are an adult, simply articulate the rules of your own home. Start by telling them that because of your demanding work schedules, the visit can only be for five days. Then say that you will put your car at their disposal, but you cannot take extra time off, and they will have to entertain themselves during the work week. If they want to do something that is unpleasant or inconvenient for you, tell them they’re free to go, you have to decline. Also say you appreciate their generosity, but you are self-sufficient, and while it’s nice if they want to treat you to dinner, you draw the line at appliances. Your parents will likely have the kind of fit that could get them on a Real Housewives reunion, but you just have to ignore that and firmly stick to your parameters. If they respond that they would rather stay home then visit under these restrictions, this is what’s known as a win/win.
I recently attended a wonderful Michael Bublé concert to celebrate my 60th birthday. Since I have some vision problems, we paid considerable money for better seats. I realize that everyone loves their cellphones and the way they can instantly take photos and record events. But what is the etiquette at a live performance? The young woman directly in front of me held her phone up and recorded about half the show. In the dark concert arena her screen was very bright and directly in my line of vision. I assume she felt it was her right to record the show. But what about my right to enjoy the show without her bright light interfering with my view? I didn't say anything because I didn't want to have a confrontation at a fun event, but should I have?
—60 and Steaming
I wonder how many of those events will ever be viewed a second time. Or maybe I should say a first time, since people get so wrapped up in their devices they don’t even experience what they’ve come to see. It's too bad Michael Bublé hasn't joined the chorus of performers who are banning recording at their concerts. If he had, you might have had the pleasure of a security person telling the woman in front of you to douse her device and if she refused, escorting her out. But since it was up to you, it would have been perfectly reasonable to politely ask her to put her phone away because it was distracting and blocking your view. Best case, she would have apologized and turned it off. More likely she would have said, “Go home and listen to your Sinatra albums, you old bag.” At that point, it would have been wise to ignore her and just let yourself be transported by Bublé crooning, "You Make Me Feel So Young."
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