my boss’s kid punched me in the groin

A reader writes:

I work at a university. My boss has an almost-5-year-old son, and she brings him into the office … a lot. I work in an open bullpen, so even when he’s in her office, he’s usually making noise or listening to an iPad at a loud volume, when he’s not running around the office.

Today, however, as I was standing and talking to her and another colleague, her son wandered up and punched me in the groin. My boss immediately forced him to apologize and then let him go to wander off and “explore” the rest of the office and picked back up in the conversation like nothing happened.

I also know that there are hours at work when she has a FaceTime connection between her work iPad and the one they have at home as a sort of remote babysitter. She doesn’t mute it or turn the volume down when someone comes into the office to discuss work items.

I stopped in at HR, and the university doesn’t have a specific policy about children at the office other than “use discretion,” but the HR director wasn’t at all surprised to hear that my boss had been bringing in her kid (indeed, she nailed it right on the head after I asked about the policy and asked for further info). Is there anything I should or shouldn’t be doing to either in terms of documenting what’s happening or better ways to handle what’s going on?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Explaining to staff that they need to let me know if they’re out of the office
  • Should I tell my competition that we’re up for the same job?
  • What should I wear when meeting about volunteer opportunities?
  • How can I thank my boss for hiring my friend?

{ 176 comments… read them below or add one }

      1. This Daydreamer

        It also gave me the link to “I punched a coworker at the company Christmas party”. Beautiful.

        Reply
    1. De Minimis

      Ah, I had thought it sounded familiar, but I also wondered if it maybe happened again, or to someone else.

      Reply
  1. Matilda Jefferies

    For #1, I wonder if they asked HR about the policy on bringing children to the workplace, or did they specifically say “My boss’ kid punched me in the groin?” Because those are two very different questions, and I expect they would have gotten very different results. There may or may not be a policy about bringing in children, but I would assume and hope that there is a policy about workplace violence!

    It’s water under the bridge now of course. But I hope that the lesson here is that if someone in your workplace punches you, whether or not that person is an employee, it’s not okay.

    Reply
    1. OrphanBrown

      Yea, I can’t see how an apology from a kid is the right way to rectify this situation. Of course I wouldn’t want my boss to retaliate against me, but I hope I could say something like, “Physical abuse is not acceptable from anyone of any age, and I’d like your kid to keep a safe distance from me in our office.” Is this wishful thinking on my part, that someone could say this safely?

      Reply
      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        I think this is an overreaction. An apology from the child (and parent) is the right response to the “physical abuse.” (The scare quotes are intentional because I think that framing is in itself an overreaction.)

        The overarching problem is not that the company heedlessly tolerates physical abuse; it’s that children don’t spring into being with fully developed impulse control/empathy/cultural knowledge about what’s appropriate to do, to whom, in which places — and therefore, they shouldn’t spend much time in offices (and if they do, they should be watched closely by their parents).

        Reply
        1. Doe-Eyed

          I don’t think it’s really an overreaction because getting punched in the groin is very painful even if a child does it. It wasn’t an accident, and kids know it hurts.

          Reply
          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

            Ok. Having never been punched in the groin, I can’t speak to how painful it is (and I’m a cisgender woman, so it wouldn’t hurt me as much as it would hurt most men).

            But a request to keep a kid a “safe distance” away, after the kid did a normal (if problematic) kid thing? That’s just such an escalation. How about “Hey, last time Billy was here he punched me. Can you make sure to keep an eye on him?”

            Reply
            1. Database Developer Dude

              No, that’s not an escalation at all. If the kid is prone to punching people in the groin, it’s not an escalation to be asking to keep the kid a safe distance away so that the person avoids another punch in the groin.

              Reply
                1. Kate 2

                  Um, what????!!!! I am glad I don’t know the four year olds you know! Because of the many four year olds I know, *none* of them run around punching people!

                2. Kay

                  Which is why children shouldn’t be in the workplace outside of a school, daycare center, etc. Also, four years of age is old enough to learn about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.

                3. Cobol

                  Kay-I agree with you 100%. That’s the issue. There are comments discussing workplace violence, which I’m finding ridiculous.

            2. Sylvia

              I don’t think asking the kid to be kept away is an overreaction. Might be an opportunity for the kid to learn something!

              Reply
            3. Blue Anne

              It’s a normal and responsible escalation, for the kid’s benefit as much as the OP’s. Kid, if you punch people in the groin, you must apologize, and they may not want you to be near them any more.

              It’s like the 5-6 year old boys who would grab the front of my swimsuit and look down it when I was a camp counselor. They knew it was wrong and they were doing it for kicks and to push limits. If they did it to another patron of the pool, not only were they have been made to apologize, they had the “now you have to hold Anne’s hand all afternoon” consequences so they were aware they were being kept away from other patrons. This is appropriate.

              Reply
            4. Mike C. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

              As a dude I’m an expert at this, and yes, it really, really hurts. It’s a slow, overwhelming wave of pain that takes a few minutes to get over. That the conversation continued immediately after being punched shows an incredible lack of awareness, common sense and empathy.

              Reply
              1. Ego Chamber

                I’m a cisgender woman but I had exactly the same thought. It says a lot about the boss that she didn’t give LW a minute to go dry heave or something, nevermind sending her unattended child with demonstrated violent impulses off to “explore the office”—and continue to be unattended.

                Wtf on all counts. :(

                Reply
            5. lokilaufeysanon

              No. Being a kid is not a excuse to punch people and asking to keep them away from the person they punched is not an “overreaction.” In fact, that kid shouldn’t be allowed in the office at all after that incident. Actions have consequences and kids need to learn them when they’re young. This kind of behaviour isn’t going to be cute when they’re 15, so it shouldn’t be blown off when they’re 5.

              Reply
            6. SomeoneLikeAnon

              If it were the boss’ dog and the dog bite me, it’s prefectly acceptable to say keep the dog away from me in the future. I think telling the parent/boss to keep the kid away from me is prefectly acceptable after having a kid hit me, in the workplace no less. The kid shouldn’t get a pass because “it’s a kid;” if anything it should get more onus because it has the mental capacity to understand hit is not ok.

              Reply
          2. Zahra

            Actually, no, kids don’t necessarily know how much it hurts.

            Baby boy testes are totally not as sensitive to pain as grown men’s are. You can manhandle (ha ha) them as much as you want while changing a diaper and cleaning up the groin area without so much as a whimper.

            Of course, kids usually know when they do something that hurts, but they actually need to be taught that it’s not funny and it shouldn’t be done at all. My kid is 5 and his latest thing is greeting us head first when we pick him up from summer camp every evening. Like run towards us head down and bump into us, at groin level, since that’s how tall he is. He doesn’t get that it hurts and that his momentum makes it more painful on the recipient of his affection.

            Which reminds me that I need to sit down with him to have the pattern-addressing discussion instead of the instantaneous-incident-specific discussion. Here’s to using AAM to parent! :P

            Reply
            1. Snark

              “Like run towards us head down and bump into us, at groin level, since that’s how tall he is. ”

              My 3-year-old took a flying leap at the sofa and I got a little cannonball noggin straight to the fruit bowl.

              “Why is dada crying? “

              Reply
            2. JamieS

              I’ll openly admit I’m not a diaper changing expert but I don’t think the amount of pressure used to clean up a baby is comparable to the amount of pressure in a groin punch.

              Reply
        2. Catalin

          Let’s talk about impulse control — on the part of the parent/boss. Demanding an apology from a child and then carrying on with your conversation with someone who has just been punched in the groin is not the right response. *I am not a man* but I’ve seen many accidents and it seems to me that the response to that kind of anguish should involve fetching frozen peas and aspirin, not acting like nothing happened.

          Reply
          1. Catalin

            Kid punches hurt — even two-year-old kids leave serious bruises. Again, not a man, but I’ve heard that the groin is sensitive.

            Reply
            1. Paul

              One of ours gave me a good bloody nose as an *infant*, before he could walk. He was doing that head wiggle and flail thing infants do and WHAMMO. Faucet time.

              Little kids can be *painful!*

              Reply
              1. Merci Dee

                My daughter was about 2 when she kicked the tee-totaling he’ll out of my arm when we were laid down for a nap. For 3 weeks, I had a bruise on the outside of my arm between wrist and elbow that was a perfect footprint with 5 little individual toes. Even when she was a baby, that kid kicked like a mule with her crazy-long legs.

                Reply
          2. Jeanne

            I couldn’t believe the part where the conversation kept going. Sure, you make the kid apologize. But the boss should also have apologized profusely, asked if he (OP) was ok, told him to take a break until he felt better. It’s insane that boss just continued like nothing happened.

            Reply
            1. (Another) B

              Allowing the kid to stay at the office is enabling his behavior. Kids don’t belong in an office.

              Reply
            2. tigerStripes

              I think the kid should have been given a time out too. Give the kid a little time to reflect that that was not acceptable behavior.

              Reply
        3. Charisma

          I have to disagree with this as well. I’m a woman, but I was once repeatedly “sexually assaulted” by a friend’s child and I actually broke off our friendship because she refused to discipline her son (who was also 5 years old at the time) or believe me when I told her how serious his repeated behavior was. This little sh*t, I kid you not, would constantly grab at my breasts and between my legs like he was trying to cop multiple feels. And he was STRONG and very aggressive about it. I have NO IDEA where he learned this behavior. He would always do it when no one was looking. He would search me out in rooms when I was alone and sneak up on me to do this. He even attempted to get under my clothes!!! This 5 year old knew d*mn well what he was doing and that it was wrong and that I was not happy about it. He also had a younger sister that I was VERY worried about. So when I hear about young children pulling these stunts, even once, I don’t think it’s a good idea to take it lightly. A kid who would crosses this line even once gives me pause because this is not common behavior at all. They need to KNOW what they are doing is wrong and that something harsher than just apologizing to the victim will take place. Because if they are a repeat offender, that doesn’t actually work. I’m not saying spank the kid, but don’t give them free range of an office to terrorize people and continue on with other bad social behaviors.

          P.S. I have no idea what happened to my ex-friend or this kid and his younger sister. We never re-connected.

          Reply
          1. Ego Chamber

            That is terrifying. I’m sorry that happened to you and hope your friend’s daughter is okay.

            To be fair to the kid in the letter, sometimes adults (unintentionally or otherwise) teach little kids that violence is the funniest joke ever. I have family whose infant’s favorite game is “hit dad, then dad overacts how much it hurts and everyone laughs and it’s great fun.” This is a stupid game, it’s going to get a lot worse if they don’t stop that sh!t before the kid becomes sentient, and you can’t pay me to spend time with any of them. Point being, kid in the letter learned this somewhere and boss’s reaction tells me everything I needed to know about it.

            Reply
            1. Zahra

              Yeah, making a joke of it doesn’t work. Even saying “Hey, stop that!” with a smile on your face doesn’t work.

              So, as much as it kills me sometimes (because some of the stuff they shouldn’t do is funny as heck), I put on my serious, I’m-not-kidding face when I have to send the message that this thing they just did is not okay. (Then, when I tell the story to my friends or coworkers, we laugh about it.)

              Reply
          2. Somniloquist

            Wow. I got to be honest, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have had a really bad reaction to that, 5 years old or not. Good for you for your restraint.

            Reply
            1. Charisma

              Honestly, the reason I had to break off my friendship (other than how much I hated her kid) was because I was at the point where I knew I was going to snap and use physical force against him. And THAT scared me even more. For years I had fantasies of finding him again once he’d grown up and confronting him as an “adult” just so I could finally give him the punch in the face he deserved without feeling guilty!? That’s how much this 5-yr old affected me.

              It’s been ~10 years now. I’ve mostly put him out of my head completely. But whenever people try to tell me that *all* children are innocent and unaware of their actions just because they are young. Well, I am 100% not buying it. Some people ARE more innocent than others. But kids are not by default stupid/unaware just because they are kids.

              Reply
              1. Zahra

                Even if they are not (fully) aware, they need to be taught. A simple “your body belongs to you, my body belongs to me, nobody gets to touch without permission” is easily understandable from a very early age. How he wasn’t taught that is beyond me.

                Reply
        4. JamieS

          I disagree it’s an overreaction. Frankly I don’t care that a child doesn’t have the same impulse control as an adult. That’s not a valid excuse. Children aren’t responsible to society to control themselves, their parents are responsible to control them and are the ones who are liable when their children don’t behave.

          From my POV when parents bring their child to work they’re fully responsible for their child’s actions and any policy violation (implicit or explicit) should be treated as a policy violation made by the parent. In other words, if Jane’s child punches someone in the groin it should be treated as though Jane punched someone in the groin. Yes I know that’s a hard line stance.

          Reply
      2. Jennifer Thneed

        “Being punched is not acceptable in the office.” (Or anyplace, really.) That’s the phrase you want here. This wasn’t physical abuse, it was just getting slugged by a kid who really ought to know better by this age.

        Reply
    2. Artemesia

      Big difference from a kid in the office corner with an iPad and earphones and a kid running around the office, punching people in the groin and running media out loud. I would hope the OP was clear that it wasn’t ‘kids in the office’ but this terror is disruptive, noisy and punched me in the groin. And HR that didn’t deal with that is worthless.

      Reply
      1. Justme

        Agree. My kid is sitting with me in my (private) office today because of an allergic reaction to medication. But she’s quiet and wouldn’t hit people. Plus if she did, there would be repercussions other than just making her apologize.

        Reply
        1. Edith

          Yeah, my dad brought me to work a few times in the early 90s when I was sick and too young to be left home alone. It was fine because 1) it happened at most three times my entire childhood, 2) he had a private office, and 3) I was in a sleeping bag on the floor basically unconscious the entire time. If any of those three things were different it would have been an issue.

          Reply
        2. tigerStripes

          A quiet kid in the office is fine with me. I remember a co-worker who used to have her daughter in the office, but the kid was always quiet and polite, so it wasn’t a problem.

          Reply
      2. Magenta Sky

        In the most extreme situation (which this isn’t – yet) one might feel it appropriate to contact child services. The kid may have impulse control issues that need professional attention.

        Or maybe the boss, in addition to being an inconsiderate boor, a bad boss and a bad employee, is also not a very good parent.

        I’d certainly want to have a conversation with the boss (and possibly HR at the same time) about keeping the kid well away from me at all time after a physical assault.

        Reply
        1. Editrix

          Contacting child services actually seems completely appropriate here, if a child that young is being left alone at home other times with only a FaceTime connection as supervision.

          Reply
          1. Kj

            Yes, that. Honestly, depending on age, I’d consider being left home alone to to be worth a CPS call. Facetime does not equal supervision.

            Reply
            1. Starbuck

              The letter says the kid is “almost five” which…. yikes! I work with 4-year olds at work sometimes… I don’t think that’s an acceptable age to leave a kid alone at home at all.

              Reply
              1. Julia

                I mean, what’s OP’s boss gonna do when the kid does something dangerous? Reach through the Ipad and stop him?

                Reply
      3. Your Weird Uncle

        Ugh, in a former life I used to work in a high-end chocolate retail store in one of our malls, and one of the kiosk owners used to bring their 5 year old into the mall every day in the summer. We hated that kid! We had an open chocolate dipper which we used to dip strawberries etc. and the only thing keeping people away from it was a flimsy barrier. Fine for adults (for the most part) but not very effective with little kids, so we had to be extra vigilant when that little terror was running around – he was mostly unsupervised, from what I could tell.

        Reply
        1. NaoNao

          I can relate *hard*. I’ve worked at 5 different libraries, and struggling parents would often leave their little terrors in the kids’ area…all.day.long.
          It was a self-reinforcing cycle. Lacking interaction and stimulation, the kids would act out, and be annoying. Because they were annoying, they’d get talked to or banned/moved, meaning they would become more bored, and act out more.
          The library is not a day care, people!!

          Reply
          1. Ego Chamber

            Borders Bookstore. Same story.

            It kills me whenever I see a writing/freelance tips article that says something like “Take your laptop and work at a bookstore or library! A lot of them have cafe areas and if you have kids, you can turn them loose in the childrens section to save money on childcare.” Nooo. :(

            Reply
  2. Marillenbaum

    Oh, jeez, this is…not good. Boss #1 is clearly misusing the policy about children in the workplace, and it doesn’t look great that things haven’t been nipped in the bud by someone higher up. Hopefully, you aren’t stuck dealing with it for long.

    Reply
  3. Government Worker

    The FaceTime thing is just weird. This kid is 4, so he’s not home alone (if he is, then OP should be calling social services, not worrying about office disruptions), so why exactly does the boss need to have FaceTime on basically continuously? If there’s a new babysitter or something else that causing the boss to be nervous about the kid’s care, then call and check in regularly, or get a nannycam, or at least turn the volume off. This is not high quality bonding time with the kid – turn off FaceTime and let him play on his own or with whoever is there in the house with him.

    Reply
    1. Falling Diphthong

      There are lots of bad ideas a four-year-old could have that could not be adequately handled over Facetime–this part of the letter is really bizarre to me.

      Reply
    2. Turtle Candle

      I know secondhand of a few people who use FaceTime to keep an eye on things while their kids are with a nanny or babysitter. It’s really odd to me (and at work it seems like it would be a massive distraction), but apparently it happens. So while it’s possible kiddo is being left alone at an inappropriate age, it’s also possible not.

      Reply
    3. Ego Chamber

      LW referred to the FaceTime situation as a “remote babysitter,” so I think the 4 year old is definitely home alone.

      There’s nothing wrong with giving child services a heads up, but it might be totally legal—only 3 states have age requirements for leaving kids home alone, most states require “adequate supervision” (which seems like what the boss is thinking FaceTime is?), and the state I’m in (stupidly) allows parents to leave a child of any age at home as long as the parent believes the child is self-sufficient enough to be unsupervised (when I was growing up, I knew 7 year olds that were babysitting their 3 and 5 year old siblings after school until parents got home—why yes, I was raised poor in the poor part of town, why do you ask?).

      Reply
  4. Hiring Mgr

    It may be a cultural thing, so I would be curious to know where the OP is located. For example, there are some regions of Western Finland where a punch in the groin from child to elder like this is considered a sign of respect for one’s experience and place in the heirarchy.

    Reply
        1. LizB

          Maybe Hiring Mgr can add “(SATIRE ACCOUNT)” to their commenting handle? I do love their comments now, but they really confused me until I saw someone else point out that they were jokes.

          Reply
    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      In western Finland, maybe, but remember that in eastern, it’s a challenge to a duel. Regional cultural variations are tricky!

      Reply
          1. Megan Johnson

            THANK YOU. I couldn’t remember exactly where I’d heard this before and what exactly was amusing me, but now I remember it clearly.

            Reply
  5. Dulf

    The fact that this is in a university setting stood out to me – if OP’s boss is a faculty member and not a staff member, bringing a child into the office may (for whatever reason) be considered a privilege of the job, instead of a weird flouting of rules. That may be difficult to work around.

    Reply
    1. Matilda Jefferies

      That was exactly my point above, though. If OP is going after this from the angle of whether or not it’s okay to bring a child into the office, he’s asking the wrong questions and is not going to get any kind of satisfactory answers. If he goes about it from the angle of “Someone in my workplace punched me in the groin,” there would hopefully be a more immediate and appropriate resolution.

      This is not guaranteed, of course. But it is guaranteed that there will be no resolution at all if OP doesn’t specifically raise it as a problem!

      Reply
      1. Dulf

        I agree – he definitely won’t get anywhere if he’s seen as trying to “take away” a faculty privilege. With way HR policies tend to be enforced differently between faculty and staff, though, I wonder if this is a situation where he’s not going to get a satisfactory resolution regardless of what he does.

        Reply
    2. Elizabeth H.

      Right but the kid should still be well behaved. My mom used to bring me in to her office or even to her class (professor) and I would sit very quietly and read. I was happy pretty much indefinitely (like REALLY indefinitely . . . my parents used to take away reading time before bed if they needed to punish me) as long as I had something to read. The big difference is the behavior from the kid, if he/she is quiet and unobtrusive or not.

      Reply
      1. Dulf

        Absolutely: the kid should not be in the office if he can’t be trusted not to hit people. I’m not optimistic about whether a university HR department would actually address it or just kick it back to the OP’s boss.

        Reply
      2. msmorlowe

        Regarding the reading, me too! My parents said they used to get sorry looks from other if they said it in public lol.

        Reply
        1. zora

          Haha, Me too!! My mom, an early childhood educator, used to sometimes worry I spent too much time alone, but I turned out okay. ;o)

          Reply
      3. Gadfly

        Kind of like service dogs. Federal law may require you accommodate them, but it also requires them to behave. They can’t chew on the chairs or piss on the rugs.

        Reply
    3. paul

      from my limited conversations with my aunt who is a professor, and some old professors I’ve mine I’ve remained friendlyish with, academia sounds like it’s own crazy wormhole that you couldn’t pay me enough to get into, as far as work cultures go.

      Reply
      1. Gazebo Slayer

        Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’ve worked several jobs in academia and none were hellholes of dysfunction where people did things like bring in their out-of-control kid and shrug when he punched someone.

        Some small businesses I’ve worked for, on the other hand…

        Reply
    4. fposte

      It’d be unusual for faculty to supervise a bullpen of workers. Not impossible, but it sounds more like staff to me.

      Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Wait, what? I haven’t seen social sci faculty supervising bullpen staff unless they also have assigned administrative functions, or unless that staff is part of a research initiative/center that they direct. Can you clarify?

          Reply
          1. Dulf

            Social science faculty frequently hire research assistants without terminal degrees – occasionally tied to a research center, but just as often tied to a single faculty member’s grant or shared between two or three faculty members.

            Does the phrase “bullpen staff” have meaning I’m unaware of?

            Reply
          2. Dulf

            And it would be much more unusual for a faculty member at a given university to not be participating in or overseeing research. Hard science is just as likely to have technicians and research assistants. Thinking about it, I assumed it was a social science because it seems unlikely that a child could run around in a lab unsupervised. But it could easily be any hard science where the research involved is done on workstations.

            Reply
  6. KHB

    For #2 – the staff leaving the office for appointments with no notice – it sounds like some of them may be “guessing wrong” in the opposite direction, too, by assuming that they can’t schedule the occasional appointment during business hours, and they may be needlessly inconveniencing themselves because of it. It would be helpful for the expectation-clarifying memo to take them into account too.

    And because I’m one of those people who likes specifics, I recommend throwing in how and how far in advance you’d like to be notified.

    So, something like “This is to clarify the policy for partial days out of the office. In general, it’s not a problem to schedule the occasional doctor’s appointment during working hours. Please just email me to let me know by 5:00 the day before so that I’m in the loop on your schedule.”

    Reply
    1. DDJ

      Exactly, it’s clarification that you need. Sure, some employees might be proactive and ask their boss about it, but some might not feel comfortable enough to bring it up. It’s a conversation (or email) worth having.

      Particularly if you can allow a bit of flexibility. I allow my employees a decent amount of flexibility because operationally, an hour or two here or there isn’t going to cause much of an issue. Most of the time, they’ll either come in a little early to make up the time, or stay a little late. Or use vacation time. Or banked time.

      But you have to let people know your expectations, is all. I expect to be informed if someone is going to be off sick, if they’re running late, or if they have a scheduled appointment that will result in working irregular hours for the day. But that’s just so that I know what’s going on and so that I can shift things around a bit if necessary. Even if it’s “I have to run out really quickly, I should be back within an hour, sorry for the short notice,” at least I know what’s going on.

      Reply
    2. RB

      Also, to the person trying to craft the policy: you ARE allowing them some leeway in their schedules, right? You said they were managers, so they likely are salaried without overtime, and one of the benefits of being at that level is supposed to be that you have more autonomy, including with your own work schedule (within business needs, of course).

      Reply
    3. ChemMoose

      We have a shared google calendar that we use to say if we are out of the office (there are 300 of us). That could be a doctor’s appointment (a few hours) to vacation time (a few days). Everyone has access to it and can add to it. It makes it really easy to see who is here and who isn’t. It might work for your company or it might not.

      Reply
  7. Jaguar

    Since the topic of assuming genders in letter writers comes up, I naturally assumed the lead letter’s gender is male, so I re-read it and there’s not any clue about gender. So I thought about it and came to the conclusion that I assumed the gender because it’s funnier if it’s a man.

    Reply
    1. Teapot Librarian

      I assumed the LW was male because of the word “groin.” I feel like I only hear “groin” in reference to men’s bodies, not women’s, though I don’t know what the corresponding word would be.

      Reply
      1. Myrin

        I actually immediately thought “woman” precisely because of the word “groin” which is somehow neutral-leaning-female in my mind; I would expect a guy to say “punched me in the dick” but then again, that’s probably not the word choice you’d use when writing to a work advice column, I realise just now.

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          I assumed male too because in my perception — groin is male and crotch is female or sort of. Groin is the word always used in sports announcing when someone takes a line drive to the balls.

          Reply
        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I’m sorry—I know this makes me so immature, but I literally LOL’d at “punched me in the dick.”

          Reply
        3. SusanIvanova

          I used to teach karate, where groin shots are allowed – of course, that target is protected by cups. It’s a word I only heard the men use – sure, I got kicked there too, but it was never worth talking about.

          Reply
      2. FiveWheels

        Yeah, as a woman I’ve injured my groin many times. From sports though, not from being assaulted.

        Reply
        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          Pulling a groin muscle isn’t quite the same thing as getting punched in the d*ck which is how I was reading the letter.

          (I’m assuming, at least)

          Reply
          1. FiveWheels

            Certainly not, though being struck in the lower pelvis by a cricket ball doing 75mph is nasty too!

            Anyway the groins (plural) are different from the crotch, and when used in context of a groin attack it’s a euphemism for crotch anyway.

            Reply
              1. FiveWheels

                It didn’t even hurt at first. I curled up very small and blanked out for a moment. I’ve had some very painful injuries but that was the only one that was so painful my brain took a little while to process it!

                Reply
            1. TootsNYC

              and women’s tissues are also sensitive to impact (hello, bicycle bar!); they’re just positioned with a little less exposure.

              Reply
              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                Oh hell, the bicycle bar note gives me extremely painful flashbacks.

                (If folks want to know about female groin/crotch pain and impact injuries, just read/watch “Coochi Snorcher” from the Vagina Monologues.)

                Reply
    2. Lehigh

      Do you mean funnier from the kid’s perspective?

      Because if you mean *you* think it’s funny for a man to be assaulted at work, I’m giving this comment serious side-eye.

      Reply
        1. Hedgehog

          Funnier from the perspective of America’s Funniest Home Videos, which i believe has been running for about two decades on the premise that it is funny to see a man being kicked in the groin.

          Reply
  8. Bee Eye LL

    #1 – The appropriate thing to do here is give the kid a swirly. That’s when you dunk their head in a toilet and flush.

    Reply
    1. Ego Chamber

      Dear AAM,

      I gave my boss’s kid a swirly and now I’m at home on unpaid leave. I’m worried I might somehow lose my job over this, and I don’t know what went wrong. Help!

      Reply
  9. Pam

    If that happened to me, I would file workman’s comp- after all, it’s an on-the-job injury. That might get the attention of a higher power.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      You have to think fast for this. If s/he had fallen to the floor unable to breathe or move and then when mobile headed for the nurse or insisted on being taken to the ER they would be off and running on a policy change.

      Reply
  10. Polymer Phil

    I’m assuming you’re a grad student, right? University HR is useless. Your boss could have punched you in the groin herself, and most likely nothing would have happened!

    Reply
  11. That Would Be a Good Band Name

    I think I’m most shocked about the FaceTime babysitting. I do hope there is an adult with the child at home.

    Reply
    1. Lily Rowan

      Yeah, seriously — if there’s literally a pre-schooler at home alone for hours, there are bigger problems here. Not that the OP getting punched in the groin/crotch/bathing suit area is OK!

      Reply
  12. Nanc

    I’m terrible as my first thought was that line about deliberately teaching a three year old to headbutt dad in the nether regions from Heywood Banks’ Trauma to the Groin.

    That said, the song is comedy, work-place groin punching by anyone isn’t.

    Can’t wait for the update.

    Reply
  13. SomethingWitty

    This is absolutely not what OP #1 should do, but many moons ago my dad’s boss, the owner of the company, used to let his kids roam free in the business. His son struck up a habit of hiding behind corners and poking my dad with a stick as he walked by. My dad tolerated it for a time, but one day he decided he’d had enough as he was starting to get more aggressive about it. He could see the son attempting to hide ahead of him and when he walked by, he reached out and grabbed the stick before he could get poked, the son held on, and my dad dragged him for a few feet before letting go– all without making eye contact. Apparently there was no poking again after that.

    But that was the 80’s and wasn’t right back then, never mind now. As for the OP, follow Alison’s advice. I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to share that somewhat related anecdote.

    Reply
    1. FiveWheels

      I don’t see what’s wrong or aggressive about that. Aggressive would be hitting the kid with the stick – this sounds like preventing himself from being hit and disarming the kid.

      Reply
      1. SomethingWitty

        True! I guess the thing I take issue with is that my dad actually dragged him, even though he wasn’t hurt by it. I’d imagine the mere act of grabbing the stick without needing to look would freak a kid out enough. Plus he never bothered to talk to his boss first… as amusing as I find the story when my dad tells it, I do think he skipped that first step.

        My dad actually still works at the company under the same boss and his son is getting ready to take over operations in the next few years. As far as we know he has never told his dad the story! So in a sense, it really did work out just fine.

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          I agree that it wasn’t aggressive. The kid could have let go of the stick.

          (When my son was small, we went through a long special stick phase. Like, we had to walk back to his best friend’s house because he realized he’d left the best stick they found lying in the yard.)

          Reply
    2. TootsNYC

      There was a kid at my church who used to pinch everybody–hard.
      There was all sorts of “reasonable” intervention. And finally my mom held his chin and looked him in the eye and said, “The next time you pinch me, I am going to pinch you back. You have been warned.”

      And so she did–just as hard as he did. Boy, did he yelp!
      His parents just let it happen to him. (They’d tried to “discipline” him into stopping, but it wasn’t working.)

      He really didn’t have any idea how much it hurt; he just saw the cause-and-effect and thought that was fun, to make other people jump.

      He stopped.

      Reply
      1. Wayne K

        Beautiful story. Many years ago my late grandfather would notice a young child running up and down the aisles of a supermarket or similar situation either unsupervised or with parents nearby doing nothing as if any behavior anyplace anytime was acceptable because they’re children. He’d nudge me and say “this is where it starts.” Believe me when I say had this occurred to me I never would have meekly accepted this from mommy (boss or no boss). Not a chance.

        Reply
    1. JGray

      That is what I came here to say. Fill out a notice of injury or whatever process the workplace has for reporting injuries that occur in the workplace. This is a workplace injury in that in the course of the persons job they were injured. This puts the employer on notice that physical violence (even if done by a child) is occurring in the workplace. Imagine the liability if the child had actually injured the employee enough to require groin surgery or something else. The boss by letting their child run free is opening the organization to liability that I’m sure they don’t want.

      Reply
  14. Imaginary Number

    A bit of a side story (along the lines of “I also got punched in the groin by a five year old”)

    I was on a long car trip and stopped at a fast food restaurant to grab a coffee. The line was pretty long and there was a kid running in figure eights around the two lines. As he ran past me he stopped, turned, and punched me in the groin. I am 100% certain my reaction was appropriate and not over-the-top, in that I stepped back with my hands in the air and went “Whoa!”. No cussing. Nothing actually directed at the kid. He ran off and I -silently- fumed about parents not keeping control of their kids in public places.

    After I got my coffee a woman storms up to me demanding to know if I was screaming at her son. I calmly explain “No, I didn’t scream at your son. He punched me in the groin and I gave a surprised yell.”

    Her answer? “He’s five. It’s not like it hurt.”

    Reply
    1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

      I had a similar experience! I was in a crowded (both with stuff and people) furniture store. This one child was running around, literally bouncing off things (like a wresting move) and knocking into people (including myself a couple of times).

      Out of the corner of my eye I saw him coming towards me for like the fourth or fifth time, so I put my hand up (about hip height – my hand would have connected with his forehead, but it was all happening so fast it wasn’t intentional, I was just trying to get something between me and the thing careening towards me, like instinctually). All of sudden I hear “don’t you touch my son” from who I assumed was his mom. I was in such shock – like lady – your child was about to run into me and I was just trying to lessen the collision, plus your child has been “touching” me repeatedly by running into me! I’m pretty sure I just stared at her in confusion – I don’t even think I had words for her.

      Reply
        1. Gazebo Slayer

          Perfect response.

          Parents who let their kids act like this to other people piss me off, but at least they’re probably getting what they deserve: having to live with an obnoxious child with no concern for others’ rights or feelings.

          Reply
      1. Laura

        At work a few days ago (I work retail) there was a woman with two young boys who were running loose around the store and trying to climb on the shelves. My manager went over to tell them to cut it out, and their mom got huffy with him and said “You’re a real hard-ass, huh!” Later, when she got up to my register, she was STILL loudly grumbling about it to the kids. (“Where’s that jerk who yelled at you? You’re ALLOWED to stand there and look at the toys! You’re not five!”) I briefly considered calling my manager over so he could explain the store rules to her again, but decided that would be unnecessary escalation.

        Reply
        1. Samata

          This could have easily been my friend. I avoid all situations that involve going into public with her and her kids & have for the past few years. I am always SO embarrassed and have no idea what to do.

          I certainly can’t question her parenting, as I am not a parent myself and she reminded me every time I started to squirm as they ran around a restaurant screaming.

          Reply
      2. Julia

        My experience is a little different, but here it is:

        I am a young woman, and I was waiting in line to get off an airplane when the little boy behind me started running his hands all over my legs, up until my butt and between my legs. (!)

        I turned around to his mother and told her, in English (the flight was from Doha or somewhere to Tokyo, if I recall correctly – I speak Japanese, but the woman didn’t look Japanese) to keep her child in check. She just looked at me confused, and I got some hostile glances from passengers around me who apparently thought I was a child-hating bitch. I’m not, but as someone who used to babysit, I know that it’s the caretaker’s responsibility to make sure your child doesn’t hurt or sexually assault anyone. It doesn’t matter if the groper is two, it’s still thoroughly unpleasant and I have a right not to be groped.

        Reply
        1. Charisma

          I told my story further up thread, but you are not alone! I was assaulted by my ex-friend’s 5 year old son. Bad behavior in kids should never be excused just because they are young. And you are right, whoever is in charge of them needs to take responsibility and actually DO something about it.

          Reply
    2. Case of the Mondays

      Years ago, my very tall husband was in a gas station in a bright red winter puffer coat. An approximately 5 year old boy ran up to him, punched him in the groin, and ran away. If that wasn’t bad enough, the grandmotherly looking woman supervising him said in response “he really doesn’t like clowns.” Apparently, my husband’s big feet and red jacket made him look like a clown?

      Reply
      1. Emmylou

        I’m on a russian train and that story keeps making me laugh out loud and everyone around me thinks I’m a loon.

        Reply
        1. Case of the Mondays

          This makes me so happy. I felt so bad because I was laughing SO HARD in person when this happened. Tears were running down my face. My poor husband was actually really insulted and in physical pain but I just could not suppress the laughter.

          Reply
          1. Emmylou

            It totally gave the the unsupressible giggles — the kind that you try to swallow and then laugh harder.

            Reply
          2. This Daydreamer

            I lost it at “he really doesn’t like clowns”. I don’t think I could have stopped myself from laughing at the scene.

            Reply
      1. SusanIvanova

        Plus the smaller the surface area of the fist, the more intense the impact, so they don’t have to hit as hard for it to be more painful.

        Reply
    1. Cobol

      And if we replaced it with sentient toaster we’d be amazed at how technology has changed. It was a FOUR year old who doesn’t belong in the workplace. Allison’s answer focused on that, because that is what needs to be addressed. Not the supposed assault by a toddler.

      Reply
  15. Laura

    For goodness’ sake, if your boss’s kid punches you in the groin, you stagger back, swear loudly with the pain, need someone to get you ice, etc etc. I am a woman and I would totally have played this up to to the max to get the point across – if it had happened to a colleague I would have run over, tended to them, guided them to a chair, etc etc. Why on earth was the LW being stoic at the time and to HR afterwards?

    Reply
    1. SomeoneLikeAnon

      My default reaction would have been to swat at the kid. While not the best response, it’s probably the gut reaction I would have had.

      Reply
      1. TiffIf

        Yeah, I used to have a bad flail reaction when something physically startled me. I accidentally smacked a boy who threw a pillow at me when I was a kid (I was like 10 and he was 8 or 9).

        Reply
  16. Tee

    As soon as that kid punched me, or as soon as I saw him punch someone else, I would have yelled “keep your hands to yourself!!”

    He’s 4? He sold know that.

    Reply
    1. Ego Chamber

      It’s a super sh!tty situation because you can’t win.

      When I was at a public park once, I grabbed the back of a toddler’s overalls to keep him from running into the street then set him down running in the opposite direction and got sassed by some monster of a woman screaming in my face “DON’T YOU TOUCH MY CHILD I WILL CALL THE POLICE ON YOU AND TELL THEM YOU TRIED TO KIDNAP HIM!” Later the same day, I didn’t stop a different child from jumping straight into the duck pond, and got sassed by a different monster of a woman screaming “WHY DIDN’T YOU STOP HER?! YOU SAW WHAT SHE WAS DOING!”

      Result? I don’t go to the park anymore. :(

      Reply
  17. Noah

    #1 is very not funny. Boss leaves a 5 year old home alone. iPad connections won’t help in an emergency. I hope somebody has called child protection on her by now.

    Reply

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