At the grocery store one night, a lady with a couple of tween girls got into line behind me. She put a gallon of milk and a carton of eggs on the belt. The girls added a pack of string cheese and some candy, then ran off to fetch something else. She let out an exasperated sigh, and said, "I just wanted milk and eggs! They always want something more!" Her whole manner was Kids! What can you do, amiright?
I thought of my own mother, who, when I wanted something, would retort, "You got money." The first response that came to my mind was Well, of course they do, if you know you're going to buy it for them.
But hey! I did not say that. It only took twenty-some years, but I finally developed a filter. I learned that people do not respond well to being chastised. Not only does it make them angry, but they use my rudeness as a justification for rejecting my message. It doesn't matter how good your advice is, if it is delivered badly, it will bounce right off. This is called "diplomacy." Josh taught me.
Okay, so Plan A rejected, my brain tried again. You don't have to buy it, you know.
Nope. Rejected again. Still putting the blame on her.
Finally, I spoke. "They should get jobs."
"Ha! You're right! Hey, how old do you have to be to get a job here?" she turned to the cashier.
"Ah, well." She turned to the girls, who were ignoring her completely. "Two more years!" Ha ha ha, kids! Amiright?
This lady will probably continue to allow her daughter to dictate her purchases. But this way, I got to say what I wanted and no one was offended. And maybe, just maybe, it will occur to her someday that if she doesn't want to buy string cheese anymore, she could just stop doing it. She will think back to this moment at the Food Lion and remember the words of the wise-beyond-her-years young woman in front of her, rather than think of that bitch at the grocery store who probably doesn't even have kids, so how does she know.