Thanks Region -- yeah, a quote from there:
We have a general but informal rule here, which is that to err on the side of being courteous to the guest. Usually things should stay roughly equal, but when that's impossible, the guest is deferred to.
So I totally understand what you mean.
I think it does become an issue at eight in a way it hasn't really been earlier -- you give them more behavioral leeway when they're littler, at eight it starts to be hey, you're old enough to know better. Maybe. Anyway, it does seem like I deal with it more lately.
We do talk about being a guest -- waiting for things to be offered rather than just baldly asking is one I remember covering. (As in, not saying "Can I have some ice cream?" but happily accepting ice cream if offered and happily accepting the lack of ice cream if it's not offered.)
Another thing is that sozlet knows she should help her friends clean up any mess she helped make at their house before she leaves. Her friends don't always do that in turn (her good friends do), and she gets grumpy about it. (They ones who don't frequently pull "I'm a guest, I don't have to.") She doesn't get grumpy to them when they're here but grumps to me about it after they leave (and after she's faced with a giant mess to clean up single-handedly -- I do suggest they just not make the giant mess in the first place but every once in a while it's Hurricane Sozfriends). One way I dealt with that recently is that she grumped, I asked "are you more or less interested in having G over for a playdate next time?" she said "less," I cocked an eyebrow at her and she said "ohhhh..." She just kind of got that the person may have had the "right" to refuse to help at all but there are still consequences.
Anyway, the theme of my last thread was trying to figure out when to go ahead and -- I guess "parent"? -- other people's kids. (The words "correct" and "chastise" didn't go over well on the other thread, "parent" may be more what I'm going for anyway.) I think it sounds like you handled that part well.
That recently came up with the same friend as the fish situation, K. I took the girls to a local event, they were goofing around. They brought a trick ring of sozlet's -- hidden bulb, put water in, squirt people. K squirted a girl who flipped out
. I only saw the immediate aftermath of the squirting -- the girl (M, someone they know) threw clumps of dirt at K, screamed, started sobbing, and ran to her parents. K and sozlet stood there gape-mouthed and then trailed her. I met them all and tried to piece together what was going on as M's mom comforted M. I asked K if she'd apologized to M. K shook her head... didn't really do anything. I urged her along (definitely more a parenting thing than a host thing). She didn't really want to -- she felt like M's reaction was WAAAYY over the top for what actually happened. But I thought that the first step to resolution was for her to apologize anyway -- that's what I would have had sozlet do. (M has some behavioral issues and it wasn't completely surprising that she'd freak when startled by something like that.) She did. M rallied quickly and then everyone went and played for a while.
I talked to K later to make sure she was fine with it all, she was.
There definitely is some sort of function of time in all of this -- the more time you spend together, the less formal things get.