Houseguests vs. Children, Vol. 13, Issue 34

Dear Etiquetteer: We enjoy hosting our friends in our home. However, with the advent of children in our life, our duties and responsibilities have obviously changed. Most of our guests behave with Perfect Propriety, but sadly, some feel that late nights and late wakings are not an issue. I can keep the offspring relatively quiet in consideration of our guests (who may not have kept their late night volumes low) but at what point may I allow the children to enjoy their own home when guests are slumbering?

Dear Hotelier:

It sounds to Etiquetteer as though you really need to communicate your Domestic Rhythm more effectively to your overnight houseguests. You can be both Hospitable and Forthright when you say "The children usually go to bed at [Insert Time Here]. We hope you'll join us for breakfast at [Insert Time Here], otherwise the percolator will be going in the kitchen all morning." Not everyone is a Morning Person, but the days have long passed when one could avoid seeing one's hosts until noon, as the late Joan Crawford was said to have suggested.

On the other side of the coin, teaching your children courtesy to houseguests is an important part of their training in Perfect Propriety. Little Adelbert and Gruach need to know how they can make a guest feel welcome. Etiquetteer recalls reading Nancy Cunard's biography and how she was allowed to help the staff prepare for house parties by putting flowers in the guest rooms and checking that all the writing tables had plenty of stationery, pens, and ink.*

One of the most important ways to be quiet while the guest is asleep, as you already know. Surely there are some quiet morning activities to which they can turn their little hands, yes? Painting pictures, reading, learning sign language . . . the possibilities are myriad. Or just turn them out in the yard to play, but far away from the windows of the guest room.

*Nancy Cunard, by Annie Chisholm, page 32.