Kid Should Play With Toys, Not Tools & Running In Place With Her Sister

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

DEAR CAT: My husband and I have a pet peeve – we don’t like when people come to work in our home and bring their children along. There is a fix-it man who has worked here over the years and at the start of summer he started bringing his son with him on jobs. The son is a nice boy, about ten years old, and he sits around while the man works and plays with tools and random things in the basement. I think it is dangerous! He could hammer his thumb by accident and then of course the father would sue us. We have inquired why his son is with him, hoping this would clue him to stop bringing his son, but to no avail. He says the mother changed working hours and the son can’t be home alone. We would hate to lose him as a worker but I’m not comfortable with this situation. Other than letting him go, is there a solution we haven’t thought of? It bothers my neighbors, too. — NORMALLY KID-FRIENDLY

DEAR KID-FRIENDLY: It’s hard to find good workers you can trust in your home but it is your home and you have the right to control what happens in it. The man should have asked permission to bring his son but that time has passed, so let’s move on. If your sole concern is the boy’s safety, say he is welcome to sit in the den and play quietly, or watch tv if that won’t disturb you. If the worker is uninsured I would highly recommend this option at the very least. No matter what, tell the man that his son is no longer permitted to hang out in the basement, end of story. No kid that age, no matter how responsible, should be handling tools without adult supervision. Liability issues aside….Cat’s Call: That’s just common sense.

DEAR CAT: I have been on a weight loss trajectory for six months and so far I have lost twenty pounds by eating better and exercising (mainly with videos at home). Eventually I hope to lose eighty pounds and I want to buy a treadmill or elliptical machine. My sister says it’s a waste and I should just join a gym but I am very uncomfortable and insecure at gyms because I feel like people are judging me. My sister knows how I feel but she says if I’m not comfortable the way I am, I never will be. Do you agree? If so, where does that leave me? — TWENTY DOWN…

DEAR TWENTY: First, congratulations! Second, not only do I disagree wholeheartedly with your sister, her reasoning is nonsensical, so ignore it! Everyone has times when they feel less than stellar and don’t want the world watching them. You’re under no obligation to join a gym or work out in front of other people. Countless exercisers do best without distractions, such as rows of televisions, ambient music or the sound of runners pounding on treadmills right next to them. If you want that equipment, go get it and stay the course! You’ve already proven that you have the gumption and drive to change your life….Cat’s Call: I think you can handle purchasing a treadmill.

What’s YOUR call? Share it below! Submit questions to: or click here!.

  1. To Twenty, Congratulations!!! Keep up the good work. We have a treadmill at our house and love it. I say find one you like and go for it. The thing about having a treadmill at home is that you can walk or run on it for just a few minutes a day everyday whenever you have time.The gym means you have to physically go somewhere, abide by the gym’s schedule and deal with the fact that the treadmill or other equipment may not be available when you want it. You can always try out a gym when you feel confident.

    — mirlee, Pittsburgh    08/30/2011    Reply

  2. I feel in general It is unacceptable to bring a child to a job unless you run a daycare from your own home. What happened to going to work and seeing your kids when you get home. The fix-it man and the child’s mother need to work an arrangement with grandparents or other family or neighbors to look after the child during the day. Work is work. Right now this couple is paying this man for stress!

    — B. Cranberry    08/30/2011    Reply

  3. Normally Kid-Friendly should consider that maybe her handy-man cannot afford daycare. Daycares require contracts and charge your more if you use their facilities more or less than the contracted amount.

    I’m not sure if you are at home during the day or not, but if you are, maybe the two of you can work something out such as a discounted price on his work. You can take care of his son while he does the work you need. If you are not home during the day while he works, maybe you have a neighbor who would be willing to take care of his son. Either way, men do not take subtle hints. Let him know how you feel. Don’t just let him go because you dropped a subtle hint and he didn’t get it.

    — Jen, Pittsburgh    08/30/2011    Reply

  4. Twenty Down…First of all, who is your sister to dictate how you will choose to lose weight? She knows you are uncomfortable with the gym idea. Does she have your best interest at heart? Second, purchasing a piece of cardio equipment is a great idea, go for it! I have a treadmill and am glad I bought it.

    — Celeste    08/30/2011    Reply

  5. the issue is clearly childcare for your worker.
    my guess is that now that school is starting again that it won’t be an issue.

    if it is still an issue – and you like his work:
    tell him that you are willing to work around whatever – non-child hours he can put together. Perhaps he can come and work evenings or weekends without his son?

    — workmen?    08/30/2011    Reply

    1. Come on. If a carpenter showed up at your house for a job with his/her kid in tow you wouldn’t think “it is my responsibility to provide childcare for this child” you would think “how fast can I get this person out of my house before something bad happens and I’m sued for it?” Children should not be at a work site for any reason even if that site is a nice house, I don’t care how hard it is to make other arrangements. You have never seen this at an office because companies would not stand for it. These workers take advantage of homeowners by treating their home like a playpen. I grew up in a construction family and my dad and uncles didn’t take us/my cousins to jobs with them. We stayed with my grandparents or played at neighbors houses or the Y. Give me a break.

      — Brian nyc    08/30/2011    Reply

  6. If you aren’t comfortable with the worker bringing the kid then tell him that. But really your option is not have the work done until he can find child care.

    But honestly, all of the people stating this is such a terrible thing are really over reacting. When I was a kid I helped my dad do handy work. That’s how I learned to do this stuff on my own. I remember helping my dad with roofing when I was 10. I hated that kind of work and those lessons motivated me to excel in a field where I didn’t have to do laborious work. I think kids today are totally coddled and need to learn about the real world and work at a young age.

    — JB in Pittsburgh    08/30/2011    Reply

  7. Cat, it looks to me like you are assuming the child is playing in the basement while his father works elsewhere in the house. I got the impression that the child is playing in the same location where his father is working – the basement. The father would not want his child in a different room, where he couldn’t keep an eye on him.

    If this man has been a good worker for a long time, and he probably can’t afford childcare for the reasons someone else cited, you should work with him toward a solution or, at least, give him the opportunity to accommodate your concerns.

    It is also possible that the boy is learning and helping his father. I have great memories of going with my Dad to wiring jobs at buildings in our town that were being renovated, at about that age. I would hold the flashlight on the area where Dad was working, or fetch and return various tools for him when he couldn’t let go of something. Now, at age 55, while too many of my female counterparts are intimidated by tools, I credit those experiences with my comfort level. Not to mention the great memories of helping Dad. In another ten years, Normally Kid Friendly might be desperate for a good handyman, and that young fellow might be the best in town!

    To Twenty Down, your sister sounds cruel. Each person has to find the type of exercising that works best for them. You have already achieved so much, don’t let this woman slow you down! I don’t know what her problem is, but I would be leery of her comments in the future.

    — Nancy in Pittsburgh    08/30/2011    Reply

  8. NORMALLY KID-FRIENDLY… I would just tell him that you are not comfortable with the child tagging along and see what solutions the both of you can work out. I really hate it when people hint to me. Probably because I don’t always get the hint.

    TWENTY DOWN… Good job on the first twenty. Typically the treadmill and the elliptical machines end up going unused. Staying motivated is tough, but not impossible, and if you can stay motivated then great. I think your sister is worried that you might be buying an expensive clothing rack.

    As for gyms, they do have a women’s gym and since this isn’t the forum to plug a corporate entity, I’m sure you can find it on your own. I know the one my wife goes to is owned by a women who so far has lost 100 lbs and is still working towards her goals. I’ve met her when I picked up my wife and you can see women of all sizes working out so they are not judging anyone.

    In any case good luck hitting your goals.

    — John from Pittsburgh    08/30/2011    Reply

  9. “Normally”, what kind of work is this man doing in your home? I can see why a ten yr. old shouldn’t be on a roof job, but it might be fine to have him around on some less dangerous tasks, especially if he’s well-behaved. My brothers and I occasionally went along on jobs with my Dad, a carpenter, (with the homeowners’ permission, though) and we loved it- I have many fond memories of these times with my Dad.

    Maybe telling him that you don’t feel comfortable having his son around when he’s doing more dangerous tasks will be easier for you than saying you don’t feel comfortable with him being there at all. I like Cat’s idea of letting him play in the den or elsewhere.

    Twenty, congrats! You’ve already found what works for you—exercising at home— and have been successful, so why not continue with that plan and get the treadmill? They usually last for years, so it’s probably cheaper than years of a gym membership, anyways. Who knows- your sister way end up wanting to use it when she comes over- I would!

    — Clare, Pittsburgh    08/30/2011    Reply

  10. Kid friendly,
    I agree with everyone that a ten-yr old should not be at a work site, but if the father has no other alternative, perhaps he would be willing to sign a document stating you are not held responsible for any injuries his son may incur on your property.

    Buy the machine!. As mentioned, you can exercise when you want, while watching what you want on the TV. Plus, if you stick to your exercise plan even after you reach your goal, the machine will pay for itself in a few years with the money you saved from a gym membership.

    — S Munhall    08/30/2011    Reply

  11. Twenty – buy whatever equipment you want, but note that lots of people get bored with exercise equipment and will sell it at a very low cost. My suggestion would be to look for some good used equipment and start with it. That way if you decide you don’t like it, it won’t be such a big investment.

    I think your sister is off-base in trying to judge how you should feel about yourself. Exercise in whatever way is comfortable for YOU. Also, you won’t be exposing yourself to the countless germs and bacteria that are on every surface of a gym – that’s why you see hand sanitizer everywhere.

    — PB from NY    08/30/2011    Reply

  12. Down Twenty. Way to go! There are two possibilities as to why your sister is not supporting you with the purchase of a treadmill that are kinder. First, treadmills are expensive and she possibly is concerned about your spending such a large sum of money and is afraid to tell you that. She has come up with this alternative to avoid telling you she is afraid you can’t afford to buy such a large ticket item. She may also be genuinely concerned that you have body issues and want you to be happy with who you are. On the negative side, she may be trying to sabotage your weight loss. I hope it is one of the two other possibilities! Just keep up the good work and do what is best for your health and happiness!

    — Christina Pittsburgh    08/31/2011    Reply

  13. To Twenty Down: Kudos, girl! Keep up the good work. Even after you finish losing the weight you want, you’ll need to keep up the new diet and exercise to maintain your new self. You might want to consider a good, used machine. It’ll save you money and let you use a machine long enough to decide whether it’s the one for you. If you don’t like it, try out another used one and sell the old one. When you finally find your “forever machine” (grin), then you might consider a new purchase.

    And remember: We’re rooting for you.

    — Elizabeth - Pittsburgh    09/02/2011    Reply

  14. Maybe if that ladies husband “played” with tools when he was a kid he wouldnt have to hire someone to do home improvements. They sound like a bunch of worthless yuppies.

    — CJ    09/02/2011    Reply

    1. Assuming that every male is handy with tools and home repair is as sexist as assuming that every female wears a dress and pearls while she cooks and cleans for her family.

      — JC    09/03/2011    Reply

      1. So the revised comment should read: “Maybe if that lady ‘played’ with tools when she was a kid, she wouldn’t have to hire someone to do home improvements.” I like it!

        — Nancy in Pittsburgh    09/08/2011    Reply


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