There's never been a knock or doorbell ring more anxiety-inducing to the average adult child than that of a visiting parent's. Yes, Mom and Dad, it's great to spend time with you and even relate to you on an adult-to-adult level over dinners and touristy activities we would never pursue on our own -- but we know what you're really up to.
Once they've stepped over the threshold and into your first (or second or third...) home away from home, parents seem to be overloaded with proof of every lesson they've given you that you've failed to follow on your own.
And even if it's not that nefarious, let's admit it -- sometimes a well-meaning observation can just be annoying no matter the person's relation to you.
Though we can't quite pull "My house, my rules" rank (you're still our parents after all), here is a list of six things you should never say to your adult children when you're visiting them. And if all else fails, think of the first rule you taught us: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
1. "...So did you clean before I got here?" This passive aggressive barb was lobbed at me by my own mother on her first-ever visit to my apartment. As 70 percent of our spats from the past involved some form of "What am I? Your maid?" or "Why isn't your room clean?", I can't say I was surprised to hear the comment, but found it annoying all the same.
When it comes to your own children, I'm sure that like me, they too will clean their homes before you arrive. And while it may not be up to your exacting standards, we doubt a bed without hospital corners or a slightly dusty bookshelf is that terrible.
2. "Oh, whatever you want to do sounds fine..." only to take issue with the activities we suggest. If you've never been to the city your adult child now calls home, look into museums, restaurants or activities that interest you and suggest them so they can create an itinerary that appeals to you. Or if there are any things you don't want to do -- long walks, wait in long lines, etc. -- let your child know so they can plan accordingly.
3. "Did you know that [insert offending object] is broken/crooked/out/etc.?" No... We -- who spend more time in our humble abode than you -- had no idea! Thank you for bringing it to our attention! Yes, we realize it, and we'll probably get around to calling our creepy super to fix it... eventually.
4. "Isn't there a nicer building in your neighborhood?"Depending on where you live, this comment has many variations from "Isn't there a safer neighborhood you can live in?" to "Why doesn't your apartment have a doorman?" There are a number of reasons for why we live where we live -- affordability being number one. And while we may rag on our uneven kitchen tiles and colorful neighbors, we still feel the need to defend our home. So try to avoid this comment -- I mean, how would you feel if Grandma said the same thing about our place?
5. "Are you really wearing that out?" No matter how fashion savvy you are, sometimes your child's idea of a great outfit for dinner may not jibe with yours. And that's ok -- because we're adults now, and we don't have fit those ideals to a T anymore.
6. "Why don't you own [insert item indicative of adulthood]?" In my case, that would be an ironing board. Upon seeing me in a slightly wrinkled, but totally wearable white button-down, my mother began chiding me to iron my top. "Don't you have an ironing board?" Um, no. "Anthonia," she said, not even trying to mask her disappointment. "Why not?" Because I find my kitchen table to do just the trick, Mom. If we don't own it, it's probably not a make or break part of our existence -- and shouldn't be something to harp on during your visit.
So now that that's settled, let's just go to dinner -- where I promise they'll serve something reasonably priced that suits your palate -- and talk about what's going on in each others' lives. It's a much better use of our time together than pointing out the light that's out in my bedroom (I'll call Alex the Super tomorrow).
Follow Anthonia Akitunde on Twitter: www.twitter.com/anthoniaa