do I have to watch my boss’s grandkids?

A reader writes:

I work in an office that has a daycare for employees’ kids. It is a great perk for those with small children, and those of us without small children enjoy it too because the little ones pass through the hallways on a daily basis for stroller rides.

My issue with this is my boss, of course. She brings her two-year-old granddaughter to the daycare and has on five occasions asked me to watch the child while she goes out to the car for her bags (which takes her 15-20 minutes). All five times the child has cried uncontrollably because she is being left with a stranger. I’ve told my boss each time that I was sorry, but the child does not seem to be comfortable with me and maybe she should take the baby with her next time. Needless to say, that hasn’t worked especially well. My solution has been to find something to do away from my desk about the time my boss gets into work and then wait until she heads down the hallway to go back to my desk. The problem with this is that it seems pretty obvious what I am doing, though my boss has never said anything.

Now my boss has a new granddaughter and she will be bringing the baby along with the two-year-old to the daycare. And I am pretty sure she will not be able to carry in all of her things and keep control of a stroller and a two-year-old. Ugh! I dread this. One of my coworkers has suggested to my boss that she do what all of the other parents do and park in the turnaround at the front door near the daycare entrance and bring the kids in that way. Then she could park by the door near her office and bring in her bags that way. My boss talked for days (yes, days) how this was not a good solution for her and that she wanted to park near her office so that she didn’t lose her usual parking spot.

Would you please help me craft a way to tell my boss I do not want to watch her grandkids? I do believe that it will be a daily occurrence since she will have so much to carry in. I like kids; I have young kids myself. But watching a crying baby makes me uncomfortable and is definitely not a good start to my day.

Why isn’t your boss dropping the kids off at the daycare first and then returning to her car for her things?

In any case, I do think you’re going to have to be direct if you don’t want to play this game of being unavailable every morning.

I’d say something like this: “Jane, your grandkids are adorable. But I don’t feel comfortable being responsible for someone else’s kids at work, especially now with two of them. I hope you understand.”

Keep in mind that there’s no way to guarantee that you won’t experience repercussions for this (subtle or otherwise). If she’s reasonable, she should take this in stride, but if she’s not reasonable, all bets are off. So you probably want to factor in what you know about your boss and proceed accordingly.

(You could potentially mitigate some of that by expressing interest in the kids at other times — asking how they’re doing, showing interest if she has photos of them or stories about them … not that you should have to, but it could be something to try if you sense she’s miffed.)

And people: Do not stick your coworkers — let alone your employees, who may be afraid to say no — with your kids, elderly relatives, pets, or any other dependents.

Read an update to this letter here.


{ 124 comments… read them below }

  1. Jessa*

    This is a liability mess waiting to happen if one of those kids gets hurt. The desk is not the place for them when there is a daycare. Seriously. If the boss does not get this it may be necessary to have this explained from somewhere above that particular boss’s paygrade. Either the boss needs to get a pram/stroller to take the kids in for daycare (and put their stuff in with them) or make two trips from the car, one with the kids and one with their stuff.

    The problem however, as Alison already pointed out is that there’s a high possibility this will end up going sideways for the OP because the boss has that kind of power. That’s probably why it needs to come from very high up as a group policy that children need to be IN the daycare and nowhere else in the building.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Agreed on the liability issue. I also have to wonder how much stuff these kids have. Having been a babysitter for many years who took newborns to age 10 out and about, I’m not getting why she has enough stuff for these kids that she’s taking 15 to 20 minutes to retrieve it from the car. Most parents I know drop off extra diapers, formula, maybe a toy or two and a stroller and that’s it at the day care. The day care typically has cribs, changing pads, etc. What the hell is she bringing for the kids that it’s taking a ton of time?

        1. Ruffingit*

          Yeah, I think that must be it. I assumed it was kid stuff, but it makes sense that she’s hauling in some of her own too.

      1. RJ*

        Some if it depends on the way the campus is laid out, I’m sure. It’s an 8 minute walk one-way from the far end of the parking lot where I usually have to park, into the building, up to my floor, and all the way to my desk. And that’s just me, coming directly in, without lugging a bunch of stuff and making a detour to where the daycare center might be.

        Not that the OP should watch the kids at all, but I understand how two trips with kids and accessories could easily take 15 to 20 minutes.

  2. Sabrina*

    I feel for the OP. This is also why I don’t like take your kid to work day. I’ve been asked to babysit while someone was in a meeting. Sorry, I only babysit MBAs.

    1. OliviaNOPE*

      But that totally defeats the purpose of Take Your Child to Work Day. They’re supposed to be immersed in your work environment and see what you do, and yes, attend your meetings. If your company doesn’t really want them there, they shouldn’t offer.

  3. shannon313*

    I can’t fathom the problem of using the turnaround like everyone else. And why is this woman bringing so many bags to work every day? I am personally tired of unreasonable people who have no problem dumping their responsibilities on others. Yuck. I realize this is completely unhelpful but I have a serious case of the Mondays and this struck a chord!

    1. Andrea*

      Struck one for me, too. I imagine that the look on my face when children are present—-at least, those making noise—-is enough to keep people from ever asking me to watch them. But you never know. The OP’s boss sounds entitled and clueless and not at all reasonable. Sorry to say it, but I’d assume she would take it out on the OP for saying this completely polite, understandable thing.

    2. Lillie Lane*

      If she has so many bags, can’t she find a small cart to stick in her car to transport them?

      1. Another Emily*

        There are upright, two-wheeled carts that are very popular in Vancouver because you can use it to (relatively) easily transport your groceries and shopping on a bus. When your not using it, it folds up. This would be perfect for the boss’s situation.

        This doesn’t really help the OP though.

  4. Felicia*

    I still can’t imagine why she can’t drop the kids off at daycare and then get her things from the car. Can’t think of any scenario where that wouldn’t be possible.

    I’m glad that here take your kids to work day is only for 9th graders:)

    1. Sascha*

      I think the only way it would be possible is if the boss is getting there before the day care opens, but I would hope the daycare would be open earlier, or at least at the same time, as most people start work.

    2. Kelly*

      I thought I read that she didn’t want to miss out on her usual parking space. I thought, geez, lets inconvenience someone other than yourself. Sounds like a self-centered boss to me – which means she won’t take kindly to the employee opting out. Too keep the peace I would just be out of the office at that time.

    3. Dulcinea*

      OP says that the boss has said she doesn’t want to lose her regular parking spot. I don’t think this is really a compelling reason on the facts we’ve been provided, but clearly the boss does think so if she really did talk “for days” about it.

      I think the boss sounds entitled, and it sounds like she has convinvced herself that having OP watch the kids is perfectly appropriate and that she is entitled to do it. Since the OP has already tried to talk to her reasonably about it, I don’t think further conversations are going to achieve anything.

      So seems to me avoidance or sucking it up and watching the kids seem to be the only realistic options for OP here, sadly. Even going higher up the chain could backfire as the boss will possibly be resentful and retaliate or just be unpleasant to work with.

      1. Another Emily*

        I still don’t understand why the boss doesn’t park in her usual spot, bring the kid the daycare, then go back to the car to get her bags. Wouldn’t bringing the child to the OP’s desk be the same amount of effort as bringing the child to the daycare?

        And if she’s having a clandestine smoke (as suggested below) it still makes zero sense to me why she wouldn’t just bring the child to the daycare first.

        If the grandchildren aren’t her dependents and this exempts her from being allowed to use the daycare (also as suggested below), then OP I think you have a strong case to make for her and anyone being allowed to use the daycare for grandchildren and other small family members when needed.

  5. Mary Sue*

    I’ve had this happen to me a few times. I found that yelling, “[Coworker], you left your infant child on my desk!” in a panic made sure that never happened again. Of course, that wasn’t my boss’ kid.

    I’m seeing some commentary from folks wondering why the boss has so many bags for the kids, and I’m wondering (having seen this in action) if they are actually the boss’ bags. I don’t understand it myself, but there are people who seem to need to carry several bags and purses every day.

    1. Sascha*

      Yeah, I read it as the boss’ bags. Could be anything, I suppose. I’ve known lots of people, kids or no kids, that bring tons of bags with them to work, school, trips, etc.

    2. Nancypie*

      What do you mean by carrying several bags and purses? I carry a laptop bag that look like a big purse and an actual (small) purse everyday. Rarely, I may bring lunch from home in a lunch tote with an ice pack , which doesn’t fit inside the aforementioned other bags. That puts my bag count at occasionally 3. I don’t think that’s unusual…or did you mean people switch bags mid-day to another style of bag?

      1. Sascha*

        I had one boss that carried a laptop, a purse, a bag of books and/or papers, a lunch bag, a gym bag, and extra shoes daily. She also sometimes brought food in for various events and that added 1-3 more bags.

        1. Nancypie*

          Wow, that is a lot!

          When my kids were of daycare age, I would also have a small day bag for each of them (as they were in separate rooms), plus a cooler bag with bottles for a baby, and a maybe a breast pump for me. Plus carrying a baby. If I had had an on-site daycare, this would have required at least 2 trips.

          But it seems like the grandmother can drop off easier, weird that she doesn’t.

          1. Zahra*

            I usually dropped off the bottles at pick-up (hey, it’s freshly pumped and it doesn’t need to go home and then back to daycare). I had no bags, just a change of clothes if they dirtied the ones they already had. If I needed to drop off diapers, I did it at pick up too since my hands were baby-free at that time.

            Daycare was at a separate spot on the campus (right beside the residences for students), so you had to move your car anyway. If I had not needed to move the car, I would have walked back to the car or planned to get a back-pack to carry the laptop and maybe the purse contents.

        2. the gold digger*

          1. Leave some nice shoes at your desk.
          2. Leave a pair of gym shoes at work.
          3. Lunch fits inside the gym bag when there are no shoes.
          4. Even better, pay the Y for kit service where you have a locker there with your toiletries and shoes and they wash your workout clothes every day.
          5. If you take your laptop home, they will just expect you to work on it.

    3. Tina*

      I’ve had this happen to me a few times. I found that yelling, “[Coworker], you left your infant child on my desk!” in a panic made sure that never happened again. Of course, that wasn’t my boss’ kid.

      Love this!!!

      Is it typical to offer childcare for grandchildren? I’ve worked at companies that offer on-site child care to employees, but for the benefit of their own young children, not grandchildren. Not that it applies to me, I’m just curious.

        1. Tina*

          Good point, hadn’t thought of that. If that’s the case, I’m glad the employer provides that kind of flexibility. Some companies are very rigid on their benefits.

          1. TK*

            I had the same thought about atypical custody arrangements. This isn’t really germane to the issues at hand, but something else about the letter confused me, though. The first paragraph refers to “those of us without small children” and then the last says “I have young kids myself.” Not that it really matters (and I’m assuming was just a matter of awkward phrasing) but this seemed weird.

              1. OP for this one*

                I have a 14 yr old and a 10 yr old that do not need day care. “Small children” meant those that weren’t in school and therefore were in the daycare. Our daycare does allow for grandchildren because they have the room since they aren’t full with employee’s children.

      1. Chinook*

        There also could be a case of the children’s parent still living at home (think teen pregnancy or going to college). While it is not common, I have seen intergenerational homes and if the grandmother has on-site daycare as a benefit, why wouldn’t she use it (especially if reliable daycare is hard to find in the community)?

        1. Tina*

          I’m not suggesting she shouldn’t use it if that’s permitted, I totally think she should. I was simply curious about whether many companies were that flexible. For example, I work at a university that provides tuition benefits for legally dependent children. Not just “any” dependent, but specifically your legal children (biological or adopted).

  6. fposte*

    Is this possibly her way of grabbing a smoke or doing something else under a plausible cover story? I can’t imagine it actually taking 20 minutes to do this.

    1. Ruffingit*

      That was something that struck me as well. 15 to 20 minutes to carry in bags is really ridiculous unless you’re the cook at the West Point mess hall and you just made the weekly grocery run.

      1. Sascha*

        Or your parking lot is really far away…like at a university. I get to park in the closest faculty/staff lot and it takes me no less than 5-7 minutes one way. It could easily take me 10-15 to get something from my car, and I get to work about 2 hours ahead of the pack so I can get a good spot. But for most corporate offices I’ve seen, their lots or garages are very close.

        1. Construction HR*

          But then why not use the turnaround??

          Yeah, I’ve got money on a not-so-quick cigarette, because she won’t smoke in the car while the kid(s) are in it.

    2. OP for this one*

      My boss tends to get on her cell phone when she goes for her bags and she also stops in the hall and talks on the way there and back. It adds up.

      1. Rana*

        Yeesh. That makes her dumping the kids with you even more annoying. She should be trying to make the trip as quickly as possible, not dawdling!

  7. A. D. Kay*

    I am dumbfounded at this manager’s presumption. OP, why does she seem to be singling YOU out for babysitting duty? It’s pretty weird that she is forcing an employee to babysit, but even weirder that she specifically asking the same person to do it.

    1. OP for this one*

      I am the first one there in the morning so there isn’t any other direct report to ask. Also, I sit right outside her office.

      1. Mavis*

        Also, I’m guessing that you are a woman. I’ve never heard of a man finding himself in this type of situation.

        1. Mike C.*

          Seriously, no one ever asks me to babysit.

          Then again, maybe that’s for child’s sake. :p

        2. A. D. Kay*

          Exactly–That’s what I was hinting at when I said the manager seemed to be singling the OP out.

    1. Sascha*

      I feel that way sometimes, too, especially about the guy who uses baby talk on a regular basis, and he is in his late 40s.

      1. Ruffingit*

        What is with the baby talkers at work?? We’ve seen that here before and it is so bizarre, I don’t get why people would do that.

  8. Laura*

    Ugh, people like this just drive me nuts. A woman I worked for years ago would bring her 2 demon-spawn children into the office all the time, where they would proceed to run up and down the halls screaming, draw on the walls, and so on. She was the Controller, so everyone just had to grit their teeth and deal with it.

    One day a partner (I repeat, partner) from Price Waterhouse showed up to review a quarterly SEC filing document, and used her office to do it. She had her rotten kids with her in the office that day, and then went off to a meeting, leaving the PW partner to keep an eye on her kids! She was such an idiot, and so entitled and clueless that she thought it would be perfectly fine to leave her children with a guy whose time bills out at probably $500 per hour. He was not pleased, to say the least.

    The OP’s boss sounds like she would definitely retaliate against the OP if challenged about the babysitting situation, which just completely sucks. Yes, it’s a huge liability issue, and yes, the boss should just suck it up and deal with it like everyone else does: park in the temporary parking area, drop the kids off, and then go park in the parking lot. But chances are she won’t.

    OP, if you do end up having to suck this up, I would suggest getting a couple of toys for the older child to play with while hanging out with you. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just some crayons and paper, or some toys from the $1 bin at Target. Should you have to do this? Absolutely not. Is it a huge inconvenience for you? Yes it is. But if there’s a way to at least keep the kid from crying while left with you it might be worth it.

    1. Chinook*

      I hope the PW partner itemized his bill to the company, listing his babysitting services at $500/hour. If I was doing up his invoice, I would have enjoyed typing that in!

      1. Jim*

        I think that $500 an hour is an underestimate for a partne at a big four firm, the practice I work for isn’t big four and our partners bill more than that.

    2. Chinook*

      I second having some quiet toys in a bottom drawer (preferably lockable so that they don’t go into your desk when you are not there). If you are worried about them drawing on walls, I came across a reusable “painting” set that allows you to “paint” with water on the special books. When the books dry, they can be reused. Bonus is that water eventually dries and doesn’t stain (most) clothing. But, if you do get toys, get 2 identical ones so they don’t have a reason to fight.

      1. Laura*

        Actually in this case I think noisy toys might solve the problem. Eventually someone would ask the OP why there was so much noise in her cube each morning, and she could say, “Well, [manager] makes me watch her kids each morning while she goes to park her car, and I had to get something to entertain them while she’s gone to keep them from crying.”

    3. Tina*

      Given the man’s status, I’m curious why he didn’t directly tell her NO, he wasn’t watching her children?

      And controller or not, I’m surprised that she was able to get away with that. Screaming through the hallways and drawing on the walls on a regular basis? Unless you actually work in a school or other environment with children, I can’t see how this would be tolerated.

      1. Chinook*

        Actually, screaming through the hallways and drawing on the walls is not tolerated in a school environment either.

      2. Laura*

        I think he was probably so flabbergasted by her audacity that it rendered him speechless, giving her a chance to get away.

        This was a highly dysfunctional environment…it was a start-up dot com, and everyone just did whatever they wanted.

    4. UK HR Bod*

      Irrelevant, but I’m so glad to hear someone else refer to (some) children as demon-spawn! Sadly, for me they are relatives…

      1. A. D. Kay*

        I have found that if you habitually refer to children as “tiny demon spawn from hell,” you are MUCH less likely to get roped into babysitting.

  9. LizNYC*

    I’m probably in the minority here, but since I think your boss is going to retaliate if you say anything (since she’s not acting like a reasonable person), I’d time my morning coffee/bathroom/copier/fax run for just that time every morning. She’ll get the hint eventually. You said it’s pretty apparent that’s what you’re doing. Well, it’s not in your job description to watch her grandkids, so eventually, she’ll either pawn this off on someone else or get the hint and drop the kids off first. And if you act like you’re not doing this avoidance act on purpose, it’ll help.

  10. Interviewer*

    Please know that your state may have different break laws – but in my state, I would ask your boss if you need to clock out for the 20 minutes it takes her to do this trip back for bags every day. You can’t do work, you can’t answer phones, and you have to quiet a screaming child so the entire office can get stuff done. Plus, anything over 20 minutes has to be an unpaid break. And does this mean your lunch hour can be trimmed by that 20 minutes, or do you need to take PTO to cover it? If it’s less than 20 minutes, is this your morning break, or do you get another morning break? Ask enough questions about how to use work-related time to care for her grandkids, and maybe then it will click with her.

    If it doesn’t – let her boss know what you are being asked to do and how much time it takes each day/week. I would hope with a daycare onsite that your company has a policy about no children on the premises, but if not, this is a good test case to create one.

    Good luck!

    PS – how does she pick them up? Does she use the turnaround then?

    1. Observer*

      I would NOT do this. At this point, it makes no difference if she can get her regular work done or not. She is present, able and willing to do the job. If she is required by her boss to do a different job for 20 minutes, that’s part of the job as well, and there is no reason whatsoever to even consider that she should not be paid for that time, or to treat it like a break. It is absolutely NOT a break – it is time spent doing a task assigned by her supervisor.

      Her boss can assign any task she like, regardless if it’s typical, normal, or sensible or not. If her boss chooses to assign a stupid, inconsiderate and time wasting task to her supervisee, that’s her problem, not the OP’s. I see no reason that the OP should bring up issues that might give the boss some more “great” ideas. And, if it so happens that this comes back to bite the boss (eg someone wakes up to the fact that the boss is using staff time for her personal errands and objects), I don’t think that the OP needs to feel bad about this.

      1. KellyK*

        Yep, I totally agree. If your boss is requiring it, it’s work, and should not be treated as a break.

        1. Frieda*

          But don’t many states have certification requirements to care for children as your job? This goes back to the liability issue–what if one of the children did get hurt, or hurt someone else, and they sued the company?

          1. Observer*

            In terms of the liability issue, it almost certainly would not make a difference if she were on break or not. On the other hand if it came out under oath (ie during a trial or in discovery) that the boss was forcing someone to take unpaid breaks when she was perfectly able and willing to work and with work available, that would lead its own set of interesting repercussions, I would imagine.

            But, none of this is the OP’s problem. There is no reason why she should risk having her pay or break time docked. The liability issue is not her problem (any personal liability would be there whether she was on the clock or not.)

    2. JMegan*

      I love this idea! Instead of saying no, “help” her work through what’s involved in saying yes. That way, you’re allowing her to come up with the brilliant idea, all on her own, that maybe she shouldn’t be leaving her kids with you.

      Good luck!

      1. JMegan*

        I was typing at the same time as Observer. :) But I do still think it’s a good idea. Maybe you shouldn’t be asking for breaks or PTO, but there are still ways to make it work.

        The most obvious would be to get her to help you prioritize your to-do list – as in, “I’m working on XYZ important deadline right now, and you have also asked me to do ABC other things before the end of the week, as well as looking after your grandchildren. Which is the highest priority here? If it turns out that I can’t get everything done, are there any items that I can move to next week?”

        Again, *show* her, rather than just telling her. Sit down with her and a copy of your list, and show her how much time it takes to look after her kids vs meeting deadline X. Of course, she may still tell you to drop project A in favour of the babysitting, in which case there’s not much you can do. But at least in that case you have a clear direction that this is part of your job, and (theoretically) less worry about how much time it’s taking.

  11. PPK*

    Maybe the OP can hope that bringing in a baby and 2 year old at the same time will be so difficult that the boss will have to hit the day care first?

    The bad angel on my shoulder says that the OP should be a really bad baby sitter once. Ignore the child and let the child wander off in the office and then act clueless when the boss comes back. “Oh gee, I was so tied up in this report that I didn’t see where Child went.” However, I’m sure the OP is a nice, responsible person and doesn’t want the child to fall down the stairs or get a hold of the stapler or something.

    Since the OP had ask the Boss to do something else with the child and the boss has said she doesn’t want to do the logical solution (drop kid off first), I think the OP being busy every day at child arrival day is the least worst compromise.

    1. Colette*

      I don’t think she should let the child wander off – but on the other hand, if the child is safe but screaming, I don’t think she needs to necessarily do anything about it. Similarly, a diaper that needs to be changed can wait 20 minutes.

      Playing with the shredder, on the other hand, needs to be stopped ASAP.

      1. Chinook*

        For her own olfactory sensibility, unfortunately not all diaper changes can wait 20 minutes. Plus, what about when the oldest one is potty trained? That absolutely can’t wait (in the beginning). does the poor OP get a “wiping bums” bonus?

        I think this is the only time that rewarding with brownies would NOT be approrpriate!

        1. Colette*

          It may not actually be possible to change a diaper – the extras might still be in the car. And yes, a child being potty trained is an urgent situation.

          I guess my thought is that if I were the OP, I absolutely would keep the child/children from hurting themselves, but I wouldn’t feel like it was my responsibility to try to keep them from crying because they’re in an unfriendly environment filled with strangers. That’s normal, expected behavior, and if people were to complain to the boss, well, the boss can easily fix it by dropping the children off at daycare where they are supposed to be.

  12. Mena*

    The daycare is for the children of employees, not employees’ grandchildren. Why are these kids even in the building?? Perhaps HR can question why these kids are even in the daycare at all?

    1. Del*

      As someone else upthread suggested, there may be atypical custody arrangements at play. If the boss is the children’s primary caretaker (which can happen for a variety of reasons), then yes, it would be appropriate for her to bring them to her job’s daycare.

    2. Elizabeth*

      I was once a nanny for a baby who was being raised by her grandparents. She lived with them, they took care of all her needs (like hiring me), and they were her legal guardians. I don’t know what the backstory was, but the parents were almost entirely out of the picture.

      Given the paperwork (and laws) involved with child care, I’m sure the company knows that these children are the boss’s grandchildren, not children. That’s not something the daycare could be unaware of.

    3. OP for this one*

      Actually the daycare allows it. My boss told me it was because the daycare wasn’t full and they were happy to take her money. Plus she’s been with the company 30+ years and she just does whatever she wants to. Like leaving her crying grandkids with an employee that has been there less than 1 year.

        1. OP for this one*

          A couple weeks ago I said, “I don’t think Jane is comfortable with me. Maybe you should leave her with someone else or take her with you.” (There is another woman that sits next to me from a different department & the boss has known her a lot longer than me. So technically there is someone else to ask.) But she didn’t ask the other woman and gave me one of her boss looks. Since then I get up and find something else to do right before she comes in. Cowardly, I know, but my boss takes everything personally and holds grudges. I have noticed that she now walks the kids to daycare and then gets her bags out of the car. And she still will not use the turn around the other parents use. Her latest complaint is that someone will dent her car if she does that. She’s been with the company over 30 years and I believe she feels entitled.

          1. Anonymous*

            So why did you write in for advice if you just plan to keep doing what you’re doing? Legit question, not meant to be snarky.

  13. SB*

    I had a boss do this with his pet. Granted, it wasn’t a child, but it was his ill-tempered demon spawn of a dog. He would come into the office, plunk the dog on my desk and disappear until 5pm. The worst of it was I was the receptionist and the dog really was ill-tempered and would growl and snap at people as they came in. It was bad enough that the mailman would refuse to come in and I had to go outside everyday to get out packages and give him any that needed to be mailed.
    I was terrified it would bite someone and I would somehow be blamed.

    1. TK*

      He left his dog at a receptionist’s desk (where the public was presumably present sometimes) ALL DAY? That’s gotta be near the top of crazy-boss stories.

      As someone who is… not particularly keen on indoor pets… I would automatically have a negative opinion of any non-animal-related business I walked into that had a (non-service) animal present. For many people this would definitely be an allergy issue as well.

      1. Tina*

        Was the boss trying to drive away business? I can’t imagine I’d rush back to any company that had an ill-behaved dog snapping at me whenever I entered the office.

        1. SB*

          Yes, the boss left his dog there all day, every day. I had to take it outside, make sure it had water, etc.

          To be fair, the general public never came in the office. I would stick the dog under my desk whenever there were meetings with outside people or when a non-employee came to my desk. I cannot tell you how many weird looks I got from people stopping by to pick something up or get something signed when they heard the growling and barking coming from my desk. It was a little, purse dog that the boss would dress in bedazzled collars and sweaters. It was humiliating having people think it was my dog (my dog is a massive furry mutt who most emphatically does not have sweaters or jeweled collars)

          1. Chinook*

            If the dog yipped from under the desk, I would be tempted to say something along the lines of “my shoes are tight and these dogs are really barking.”

            I can understand the humiliation of people thinking you choose to dress your dog that way. Unfortunately, my one dog gets pathetically happy when his Santa’s costume comes out at Christmas (bought as a joke) and won’t leave me alone until I put it on him (and his reluctant to let me take it off). The wolf, on the other hand, has been known to devour a neck scarf in under minutes (and look at the dog in grave disappointment when he wears the Sanata costume. The dog won’t let her take it off him either).

            1. SB*

              We have Halloween costumes for our dog. He accepts them begrudgingly. But this dog didn’t wear costumes, it had outfits some of which were even couture. People tend to think you’re a little frivolous if you spend $ on couture dog clothes, and I’m pretty sure that it colored people’s opinions of me (thinking it was my dog). Not to mention the fact that the dog was so poorly behaved, they probably thought I was an airhead with an accessory dog.

              1. Chinook*

                Even better – gian shi tsu with legs, snout and tail like a standard poodle and fur and teeth like a shi tsu, one cloudy eye from glaucoma and a constant goofy grin. He is a hit at the dog park.

  14. AdAgencyChick*

    If I were a higher-up at this company, I’d be pissed knowing that the company was spending a significant amount of money on a resource meant to improve employee work-life balance while increasing productivity…and that one employee was using that resource improperly and thereby killing another employee’s productivity.

    OP mentioned that another coworker suggested “why can’t boss just use the turnaround,” which makes me think that although OP has been asked several times, s/he’s not the only one being asked. OP, can you band together with others who’ve been asked and go to HR or your boss’s boss together? If it’s several of you complaining at the same time that this is hurting your productivity (and that there’s an easy solution that doesn’t involve any of you caring for the kids), I think OP’s boss might be less able to retaliate, because then she couldn’t single out one employee for ill treatment.

  15. khilde*

    It must be my raw post-partum hormones but the only thing I could lock into from this letter was the poor baby was just dumped with someone that she doesn’t know and is probably freaked out. Poor little thing.

    So my perspective is this: screw the grandmother. She sucks for doing that to her grandbaby. You’re kind of getting hosed either way. You stand up to the boss and deal with the repercussions or be stuck with the kids. I’d say try to make those 15-20 min as happy as you can for the kid because grandma boss is going to just dump the babies on someone else that might not be nice to them if you don’t do it.

    I just feel sorry for the kids if gramma’s the type to not really consider them in the whole deal.

    1. Chinook*

      I agree – poor kid. She is stuck with a stranger who doesn’t like happy to be with her. Grandma has disappeared TO NEVER RETURN (because object permance is something that evolves over time and is why peek-a-boo is terrifying to children when done to early and stealing someone’s nose is so much fun).

      If you can’t do anything about it, definitely feel for the child and try to make them more comfortable. It is not like they have a choice in the matter.

      1. khilde*

        Yeah, I never thought I’d be one of those that would plea, “but think of the children!!”….however after having two little ones now my heart just breaks for kids who have careless caregivers (ha!). I can only think of my daughters in the same situation.

        Then again, I know that the pace of many people’s work doesn’t allow for leisurely breaks to make a child feel better for 20 min. I understand that not everyone has those same feelings toward strangers’ kids, etc. I do get that. I just… heart can’t handle these types of things these days!!! I saw a neighborhood cat cross the street in front of me the other day, something dangling from its mouth. When I looked closer I realized it was a TINY baby bunny. I nearly had to pull over and burst into tears!! The poor mama bunny!! haha. I am cool with the circle of life in theory. I just don’t want to see if play out in front of me.

    2. OP for this one*

      I totally agree about the kids not being at fault. I do my best with them. We look out the window and count the ducks and read a book and whatever else I can think of. But the toddler only goes for that for a couple minutes and looks for grandma again and again. One of the other ladies that sits near me (not a direct report of the boss) has tried to help by giving the toddler candy. Candy at 8 am! Really?! Sadly it works and the boss doesn’t get mad. But it really bothers me.

  16. EM*

    Ironically, my boss is out of town today and tomorrow and asked me to go look after her dogs tomorrow during the day!

    I actually don’t mind because I love dogs, but I’d be super uncomfortable if it was children instead of dogs!

    1. Elizabeth*

      Differences, though: this sounds like a once-in-a-while situation instead of daily, and she ASKED. It would be different if every day your boss walked in, handed you a leash, and said, “Back in a bit!”

  17. Nikki T*

    I would actually rather meet her at the car to get her stuff while she walks the children to the daycare…
    Of course on days when it’s pouring rain it wouldn’t be much fun…

    Doesn’t anybody here the child crying? Is anyone higher up around to hear it and inquire?

    1. khilde*

      That might be an option? Maybe the boss doesn’t really care about what kind of help she gets and just autopilot think that she needs help with the kids (despite my comment above there are times I’d happily drop my kid off with a band of gypsies if it means I get 15 min of peace).
      If OP was going to try to offer a solution, maybe that’s one she’d offer? “Looks like you have your hands full. I’m more comfortable helping you out by grabbing your stuff for you – that way you can drop off your grandkids without them being upset and when you get back your stuff will be here.” Or whatever. I’m not good at phrasing things like Alison is.

      That sort of a reply gets into all the issues of it not being OPs job and that she’s not her assistant, etc. I definitely agree with that. It’s just a “pick your battles” type of a situation and that’s one option to consider.

  18. EG*

    Why not offer to run back out to boss’ car to pick up her stuff while the boss watches the kids? That way you’re not babysitting, and Grandma is. Better yet, suggest to your boss that she go ahead and take the kid(s) on over to daycare while you pick up the rest of the kids’ stuff, bags, etc. from her vehicle and you’ll bring the stuff to her at the daycare area. No more hiding needed, and boss won’t lose her parking place!

    1. Rana*

      It does get the OP out of childcare, but it still feels like an unnecessary distraction from the work that the OP was presumably hired to do.

      I wonder what would happen if, during the boss’s 20 minute run to the car, the OP took the children to daycare herself? (It could either open a can of worms, in that this might become the new expectation, or it might wake the boss up, especially if she comes back and neither kids nor OP are there to be found.)

      1. Nikki T*

        I’m thinking, can of worms, now THIS would become her new job. I’m not sure she can win, other than hiding out for 20 mins. But, as someone said upthread, it may be difficult for the boss to maneuver with a toddler and a baby, perhaps she will end up dropping them at the center after all…

    2. Helen*

      Faced with a choice, this is what I’d choose too. There is more of a boundary with childcare – you should be qualified before someone dumps their kids with you. But I would definitely follow it up with a conversation about the deliverable I had been working on that morning, and whether running to the car for my boss was really higher priority than that. The answer could be yes, but at least the OP would know where she stood if they had that conversation.

  19. Mike*

    Follow the old adage, never do a bad job well. Start feeding the 2 year old candy when the boss leaves them with you…teach them curse words or other rude phrases…show them how to make spit bubbles. The possibilities are endless.

  20. AnonEMoose*

    I feel your pain, OP. Unfortunately, I agree with those saying that hiding out during the relevant time period is probably your best bet, at least until “Granny Boss” gets the hint. Which may be some time the next century, if she’s as clueless as some I’ve run across, who assume that everyone (especially everyone female) will be delighted to interact with their spawn at any and all times.

    I still remember with mingled amusement and horror one incident at a previous job. I worked at a place that did outplacement (helping laid-off people with their resumes, providing access to computers, help navigating job-hunting websites, etc.). And one client showed up for her appointment with one of the consultants – with her son. Who was maybe 8 or 10? I was covering the front desk for the receptionist’s lunch at that point, and the client proceeded to ask me – in this syrupy-sweet voice, if I wanted a “little helper” while she had her appointment or (sad face) if she needed to keep her son with her. It was so blatantly manipulative that I almost heaved on the spot.

    Once I managed to pick up my jaw, I was able to (truthfully) inform her that I would unfortunately be leaving the desk shortly, so it would be better if she kept her son with her. She clearly wasn’t happy. I didn’t care.

    And my boss, when I told her the story later (just in case the client decided to whine about it), burst out laughing. Because she knew that I was and am adamantly childfree, and while fond of certain select children of my acquaintance, I had (and have) Very Firm Opinions about that sort of thing. She assured me it wasn’t a problem, and the subject never came up again.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Childfree here too and although I have babysat freely for money and just to help out my friends, I am not fond of having children dumped on me simply because I’m female and thus everyone assumes I’ll just love to hold the baby.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Exactly. I’m generally happy to hold someone’s baby if I actually know the parent/caregiver. (I actually have a reputation with my co-workers for putting babies to sleep, as various co-workers have brought their babies in for a visit, and when handed to me, the babies pretty reliably conk out.)

        But ask me. Or wait for me to ask for a turn. But don’t assume, and don’t assume that means I’ll be happy to entertain your toddler or older kid.

      2. Rana*

        Heck, I’m pregnant, and I generally get along with babies, and yet I also don’t want to be given the responsibility of holding someone else’s baby, let alone looking after their toddler.

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          I have the urge to congratulate you and post-partum poster above but it seems like a weird time so I’m putting itout there for you to take or leave!

          1. khilde*

            haha. If that was me, then thanks :) And congrats, Rana! I kind of like learning small little details about the regualr posters here. I have odd visions of everyone looking nearly identical and having identical lives. It’s weird.

  21. Twentymilehike*

    I have had a similar experience. Only it was an office with me and my boss, the owner of the company. She brought her toddler in a few times and while she was busy dealing with a client the toddler started having a tantrum or something. I had NO IDEA what to do, or even that I was expected to do something. Later my boss was angry that I didn’t do anything, but when I explained that I was really uncomfortable around kids and I was completely clueless on what to do she said she understood and was sorry she stuck me with her kid.

    I’m in agreement with suggestions above about offering to help with her things from her car. Maybe if she trusts you with her car you could meet her at the daycare turnaround and then go park her car and bring her things, or offer to meet her in the parking lot to unload the car in one trip. Anything that will keep you from being alone with the kids, since that’s what seems to be the problem.

  22. Anonymous*

    How to stop a kid from crying:

    (CBS News) Back in 2011, the Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology published a study that determined a child whining is the most annoying sound in the world. Speaking as a non-parent, I have to agree with their conclusion. However, there is light at the end of this ear-piercing tunnel.

    The key is distraction. When the baby gets the waterworks going, her father, I assume, simply asks the child what sound a cow makes. And in an instant, like some sort of witchcraft, the kid goes from unstoppable scream machine to an angel making animal sounds. It’s brilliant. Give it a shot, it’s worth a try. If it doesn’t work, there’s always ear plugs.

  23. Allikateor*

    This problem practically solves itself. Take them to visit Grandma’s office and give them free rein. A two year old in an office does as much damage in 15 minutes as your average Molotov cocktail. Unless your boss enjoys starting the day in unmitigated chaos she’ll never ask you again.

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