I have been so bad about posting regularly that I came up with “Social Sundays” where every Sunday I will write something to amuse, irritate, or enlighten you. I will be covering not just my usual ‘visiting and hosting’ topics, but other areas of social coolness, like etiquette you can actually use (don’t cringe) and even cooking now and then. And don’t worry, I won’t bore you. Promise!

So here is my introduction to Social Sunday.

This photo reminds me of a house guest I had last month. You guys know me, and therefore know I would not say this lightly: She was the best guest I have ever had — and she was all of 13.

She visited for a week – A WEEK! A high-powered girlfriend of mine from D.C. was horrified, “What are you going to do with a teenager for a week?!” she cried. Truth be told I was a tad concerned, so I did what I do best. I planned for the teenage invasion. I made a list. Yes, I followed tips from my own book and actually put a lot of thought into what we would do, when we would do it, what she would eat, what she might like to see, and the like. I am forever preaching that entertaining is about planning, and that’s true, but it takes both host and guest to have a great time and this one was special:

Here is what happened:

  • She came in and loved the house and her room;
  • she ate everything we fixed and really enjoyed it;
  • when I said, “You want to do X?” She said, “Yeah – that would be great!”
  • when I started to fix dinner she asked what she could do to help and she even smiled when I showed her how to set a great dinner table;
  • before we left for the days activities she made her bed and picked up her room (well, most days);
  • when she saw my eyes glazing over after a particularly long day, she would say, “You need some down time” and then go somewhere to read;
  • we made a terrible pie together and enjoyed every minute of it;
  • we laughed at stupid movies and she didn’t complain when I made her sit through “Gone with the Wind” and read Jonathan Livingston Seagull;
  • when I made a bet with a priest and had to go to church for several days in a row (don’t ask) she went with me, when I told her to sleep in

But most importantly, we showed mutual respect and concern for each others thoughts, space, and time.

So what did I learn from a 13 year-old? That manners and thoughtfulness are not dependent on age, and that social coolness is alive and well in the younger crowd. Did her parents have something to do with it? No doubt. So my hat goes off to them and to her for making our week together one we both can’t wait to repeat. So next time someone comes over and behaves badly don’t make excuses because of their age. Teach them what it takes to be socially gracious, or let me know about it…and I’ll turn them over to the 13 year old.

Love and happy visiting,