This Story Is Not Rated Adult

, , , | Working | June 10, 2019

(I work at a community center. All employees just got an email saying my boss’s boss is doing away with our age policy, which previously stated anyone under 12 needed an adult present. The boss’s boss felt this was age-based discrimination, so she has changed the policy so any child can be in our center at any time without an adult. I am shocked by the implications of this, so I email my boss with my questions; she is seldom around to see things for herself.)

My Email: “I just saw the new policy, and I am a bit confused. It sounds like this means any child can just be left at [Center] without any supervision at all. However, [Boss’s Boss] has always told us we are not parents and cannot act in a parental manner. So, what do we do? What if an eight-year-old is left here all day alone? What about a five-year-old? A toddler? A baby? I cannot possibly see us accepting a baby left alone unattended all day when we’re not to be babysitters. However, the way [Boss’s Boss] worded the policy makes it seem like it’s acceptable. Can you please clarify the new policy?”

My Boss’s Reply: “[My Name], in your job description it says you’re to ‘exert decision-making concerning the public and policy.’ Tell me what you would do in each of the situations you outlined, and I’ll tell you if you responded appropriately or not.”

(I have just been diagnosed with anxiety, and her email nearly sends me into a panic attack on the spot. I feel as if she is setting me up for failure and is waiting, expecting me to make mistakes she can document and hold against me. As a result, I don’t reply to her email. I figure I’ll just hope and pray that no young children get dumped at [Community Center] for me to deal with. About two weeks later, my boss is actually working with me at the center.)

Boss: “I noticed you never replied to my email.”

Me: “Yeah… I didn’t know what to say.”

Boss: “So, how would you respond in those situations?

Me: *as I feel my anxiety rise* “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.”

Boss: “You’re the one who asked the question. You must have some kind of answer.”

Me: “I don’t know. The policy says one thing, but common sense says something totally different. That’s why I was asking you for clarification!”

Boss: *frowns* “You’re going to be expected to make decisions. It’s part of your job description. Come on, you can give me an answer. What would you do if someone left a toddler here?”

Me: “I don’t know! [Boss’s Boss] has written up people for not following policy before. So, if policy says kids of any age can be left here without an adult, then that’s policy and [Boss’s Boss] expects us to follow it. But it contradicts us being parents, and it contradicts common sense, so I don’t know what to do. That’s why I asked you.” *trying not to hyperventilate*

Boss: “Woah, woah. Calm down, [My Name.] If there’s a baby walking around in a diaper and can’t even help themselves to the toilet, then that’s an abandoned child and we can call the police.”

(I am thinking: “Finally! She gives me an answer!”)

Me: “Okay.”

Boss: “But if it’s an older kid who is behaving themselves? They’re allowed to be here.”

Me: “Even if they’re only five years old?”

Boss: *shrug, gives me a look that says she’s very uncertain* “If they’re behaving themselves.”

(Once word got out that we allowed children to be at [Center] without parents, we became a dumping ground for parents who didn’t want to pay for babysitters. This included families with three to six young children who would spend hours terrorizing each other. One family regularly dropped off all five of their boys who brought their school bullying to our center. It was a nightmare. I later looked up my boss’s job description. One part of it was to explain policy to staff and to the public.)

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