Each family has its own unique sets of rules, regulations, traditions and quirks. Coming from a large family, we have lots and lots of them. Our quirks almost outnumber the number of people in my family. I have a father, 5 older brothers, 3 sisters-in-law, and 9 nieces and nephews. We are like a counting song on Sesame Street. Welcome the world of fertile Irish Catholics. We live in every time zone. We've given up trying to figure out what time it is before calling. We just dial and hope for the best. When the family gets together, there are certain rules to be followed. There are certain inevitable things that will occur.
First, stock up on chardonnay, Diet Coke and bacon. No, they are not all consumed at the same time. Diet Coke is an all day beverage for us. We aren't even civil enough to put it in a mug and pretend it is tea or coffee. We just chug it straight from the can at breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between. The bacon must be prepared by my father. The kids will clamor and beg for it until he has cooked up an entire Babe. While cooking the bacon, he will drink half glasses of orange juice. I've stopped wondering why he only drinks them in half glass increments and go straight to the mocking. In turn, he shakes his head at my morning Diet Coke. (He had the same reaction to my brother's chicken noodle soup breakfast all though high school).
A hard and fast rule of family law is that if your father visits, your kids will seize this opportunity to be possessed by the devil. Like animals sense fear, they sense that mom and dad will let much slide rater than punish you in front of a grandparent. My son chose my dad's last visit to stop wearing pants. And use every girly placemat in our house. He stopped short of wearing his sisters clothes. Their fighting put the Middle East to shame.
If your siblings visit, the cousins will fight like jackals and blame the other family.
Another fun fact of a parental visit- there is nothing appropriate on TV to watch with your parents. Everything is beyond ridiculous, reality TV, pornographic or graphically violent. "Murder She Wrote" may be acceptable but I kept waiting for Angela Lansbury to turn into Mrs. Potts and belt out "Be Our Guest".
Another disturbing development is the realization that even if you are 40, own your home, and have your own kids, your father is still distinctly be uncomfortable riding shotgun. He will stomp that imaginary Driver's Ed brake pedal until the cows come home. Conversely, you get to chide him about putting on his seat belt.
A new scientific conundrum I discovered is that adding one guest to your home quadruples the number of time you have to run and empty your dishwasher. I'm pretty sure he wasn't sneaking around and dirtying dishes just for sport but the evidence is against him.......
A rule to keep peace and harmony during family visits is to make sure some topics are off-limits. These might include, but not be limited to, sex of any kind by any one, money (unless he is redoing his will and you want to kiss up), childhood grievances, your children's faults (because grandparents are oblivious and in denial), parenting strategies and tips (because parenting has changed in the last 40 years and they don't buy into this new-fangled Dr. Phil parenting), just to name a few. So, you are forced to make idle chit chat. Acceptable topics are - family gossip, complaining about politics, traffic and weather, and bragging about your children.
Tips to make a visit my any of my family members more enjoyable - watch Godfather I & II on an endless loop. Feed them until they pass out.