Dear Miss Manners: My son, who is 13, has a job mowing yards. He started his own business: He bought his own equipment with saved-up birthday and Christmas money, and he keeps his business funds, spending money and savings in separate accounts. He sets his prices based on fuel costs and the price of parts and equipment, like weed-eater string.
Some of his clients are great-grandparents on his mother’s side, who willingly pay what he charges. However, after doing a job for my grandfather, Peepaw asked him what he owed. When my son said, “$10,” Peepaw promptly replied, “$10? You’ll take $5,” and handed him $5.
My son is too respectful to have backtalked, but I’m a bit irritated. Is it wrong to say something? Is it wrong for my son to refuse to help in the future?
Since your son is already so savvy at business, you might educate him on one of its most important rules: Do not mix business with family.
His career seems to be taking off, so perhaps he can now steer away from providing services for family members, or make it pro bono for them in exchange for good references. Miss Manners assures him that what he initially loses in revenue, he will make up in the ability to ignore strong opinions he will no longer feel obligated to agree with.
Dear Miss Manners: I recently married a lovely gentleman who volunteers with a local Boy Scout troop. Several weeks after the wedding, I joined him at a scout family function. I was sitting among a group of friends and strangers, cheering for a group of boys participating in a ceremony with their mothers.
An unknown lady leaned over to me and said, “Just think, in 'X' number of years it will be you up there!”
My abdomen is certainly not flat, and I realized that this woman was assuming that I was already well along in pregnancy. I turned to her with a smile and said, “We won't be having children for several years yet, but I do look forward to having them someday.”
A friend told me later that it was very rude of me to embarrass the lady like I did, though I felt, and still do, that my response was polite and appropriate. Was I incorrect and rude? Could Miss Manners please suggest a better way to tell someone that my figure and my family plans are none of their business?
This is not in answer to whether Miss Manners can suggest something, but rather a response to this woman’s question. Yes, it may leave her wondering if the variable is that you are not pregnant — or that you do not wish for your future child to be a Boy Scout. But that is an appropriate price to pay for making such a rude presumption.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.
© 2023 Judith Martin