While awaiting a flight recently, I nabbed a spot at the airport charging station and proceeded to catch up on business on my laptop. A burger-carrying baby boomer woman soon secured a stool across from me and commenced consuming her sandwich with unabashed fervor.
Then things turned bad.
The woman began cheerfully chatting with those of us awaiting increased bars on our phones, battery power for our laptops. She shared her love for not only her burger but for her business — that being independent jewelry sales. She oohed and aahed about the six-figure income she's on track for this year then asked those who didn't ignore her as steadfastly as I did what they did for a living. In response to one semi-rapt fellow stool sitter, she pointed out that "You, too, could be making what I make, and I can show you how."
I politely avoided the spiel… until I glanced up in thought, seeking the best phrasing for a return email I needed to get out before my flight arrived. The shameless networker caught my eye and ever so charmingly asked, "And what do you do?" To which I responded that I'm a writer and a blogger.
"Ah, what do you write about?" she asked.
"Grandparenting and such," I said.
Then things turned really bad.
Based on the response from the burger-eating, independent jewelry salesperson before me, I offer the following tips on how to NOT befriend a grandma. The bullet points serve as a guide for those who — like my fellow traveler — shudder in disdain for older women who not only appreciate their true age and all that goes along with it but show no regret or remorse about adoring the little ones borne of their offspring:
- Upon learning a woman is a grandmother, express shock with a smirk. State with a sneer and undue emphasis on the grand, "You're a GRANDma?"
- Follow with, "Thank God I'm not a grandma. I'm certainly not old enough for that."
- List the reasons why being a grandmother is the worst position in the world: Grandparents do nothing but babysit snot-nosed grandchildren and one's life is basically over once a grandma. Express sorrow for how boring such a life stage must be.
- Admit that you just might be a grandmother someday, but if and when that horrendous fate can no longer be avoided, express how you will never admit that you're a grandma and that, most importantly, "No one will ever, ever call me Grandma."
- Seek confirmation from those around you that they, too, are appalled the grandmother before you would state her position publicly much less write about it. Nods, winks and smirks at the assumedly non-grandparents in the crowd might elicit agreement. (Beware, though, that such behavior may elicit instead heads turning away from you in hopes of not appearing in collusion. Carry on anyway.)
- Ask for the grandma's business card, chuckle at the logo then state, "Ah, this oughta be interesting." Then be sure to leave the card on the counter to ensure the grandma understands you abhor all which even remotely smacks of dull and dreadful grandparenthood.
- Finally, huff ever so slightly when the grandma — recalling your earlier mention of your age — states that "You, too, could be a grandma considering you're the very same age as I am."
- Then gather your belongings and pretend you have a plane to catch at a gate far down the corridor when the grandma returns to her laptop to finish up her ever-so-dull grandparent business.
Those who wish to NOT befriend a grandmother and who seek the surest way to offend her and shut down any possibility of further connecting should follow the above boorish behavior of my fellow battery-boosting traveler.
On the other hand, those who genuinely hope to connect with a grandmother — or, at a minimum, wish to express a modicum of manners — should simply smile and nod and appreciate the grandmother's enthusiasm and passion for her position.
For that's the polite thing to do. And it's what the grandma will do in response to learning of your passion and position. Even if it's a position she would never want, never allow others to call her by, and never ever admit to being, not even to a stranger. And especially not to a grandma doing her darnedest to mind her own business in a crowded airport.
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Lisa is a Colorado-based freelance writer. She publishes the Grandma's Briefs website, where she shares bits on life's second act and strives to smash the outdated "grandma" stereotype. Lisa has been married to the same man forever; together they have three adult daughters, one son-in-law and three adorable grandsons — children of the middle daughter and her husband. Lisa is easy to find online as she's known as GrandmasBriefs wherever she goes: Twitter (@grandmasbriefs), Facebook, Google+ and elsewhere.