Help! I Nanny 4-Year-Old Twins. Their Mother Is 65.

Advice on manners and morals.
Dec. 6 2012 6:15 AM

Medicare Mommy

I nanny 4-year-old twins. Their mother is 65. What’s going to happen to them?

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Dear Young,
I understand your boss’s dilemma. As the owner of a dog with dependent personality disorder, I am forced to work at home in order to attend to her needs. But your boss’s solution is not doing anyone any favors. He is requiring all of you to neglect work duty to attend to dog doody. The dog is not getting proper and consistent training and is becoming a menace. I checked in with Massachusetts employment attorney Philip J. Gordon to find out what you can do. It turns out there’s a reason it’s fun to be the boss. Unless he’s engaging in illegal behavior such as sexual harassment, discrimination, or violating labor standards, if your place of employment is his shop, Gordon says the boss can pretty much define people’s job description. So while I disagree with your parents calling you petty and ungrateful for resenting having to perform such personal tasks, they are right that the boss can make the care and feeding of Fido your obligation. However, if you are a satellite office for a larger corporation, or have an owner who’s elsewhere, it could be that management would be disturbed to find out they are paying people to do doggie day care. In that case, a letter (yes, it can be anonymous) laying out the problem might result in the boss having to find private care for his pooch.

There is another way all of you might be able to stop the boss from yanking everyone’s chain. His dog has bitten someone, and Gordon points out that the victim—or all of you—can put some teeth into your dissatisfaction by taking this to an attorney. (There are dog-bite specialists.) It could be the boss owes damages to the victim. It could be you all could get the dog banned because his presence creates an unsafe work environment. Sure, if you make such a complaint, the boss might want to fire everyone, but that could be construed as retaliation. And if you young people decide the best thing to do would be to find work elsewhere, don’t apply to any kennels.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
I live across the country from my divorced parents and six adult siblings. My husband, young daughter, and I make a trip to my hometown at least once a year to visit. The trip is costly but it’s important to me to see my family. My mom and siblings visit us individually as their budgets and schedules allow, at least every other year or so. My father and his wife never visit us. My dad owns a small business which is barely scraping by and he works six days a week. But I just found out that he and his wife have taken a cruise each January for the last three years and have another one coming up! I understand they want to take a vacation together, especially given their financial and time constraints. But I’m hurt that they'd rather take a cruise than spend quality time with their grandchild. Maybe I’ll skip our visit next summer and go on a family vacation ourselves! Is it selfish of me to want my dad to give up his trip to spend time with us?

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—Hurt Feelings

Dear Hurt,
Your father is probably wondering if it will all end with his dropping dead at work some day since retirement seems out of the question. So for a few days in January he and his wife get waited on and luxuriate in each other’s company and having nothing to do. With five grown children nearby, he must see a lot of the grandkids. Of course he’s thrilled when all of you visit. But flying across the country to hang out with a beloved daughter and grandchild is not the break he needs. Please just drop this. And if next year you want your threesome to take a vacation of your own, do it for pleasure, not spite.

—Prudie

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