Babysitting is one of those double-edged swords where parents complain about never being able to find a good sitter, while babysitters have equally as many stories of terrible clients.
Like any other job, there are going to be stories of terrible treatment, or at least being taken advantage of, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor InfinitelyFig recently worked for a mom who explained that he would be paid a “crisis fee” if he had to call a number she had listed on an emergency contact she’d created.
But when he had to call one of those numbers and charged the additional fee for it, the Original Poster (OP) was frustrated when she argued that the situation did not qualify as a “crisis.”
He asked the sub:
“AITA for refusing to babysit because of ten dollars?”
The OP had a babysitting arrangement with his next-door neighbor.
“I (16 Male) live next door to a single mom named Ann, and her two kids, Max (9 Male) and Mia (7 Female).”
“Every month or so, when she needs a break from them, and I babysit for a few hours ($8.50 per hour). She’s usually gone for 4 hours at a time and is back at or around 15 minutes later than her specified return time.”
“She leaves me with a list of emergency contacts if something happens and she can’t get home fast enough.”
“We agreed that if I had to use an emergency number, I get $10 extra as ‘crisis pay.'”
During the most recent job, the OP had to call one of those emergency numbers.
“The last time I was watching the kids (around a month ago), Ann stayed out an hour and a half past her specified return time and wasn’t answering my texts or calls.”
“I got worried so I called one of the emergency contacts (Ann’s sister, Jenn), who came over to stay in the house while she tried to get a hold of Ann (the kids were asleep by this point, but she didn’t want to leave them in an empty house), and I went home.”
“Well, as it turns out, Ann had driven into the countryside (with no reception) to stargaze and got lost. (Jenn texted me this around midnight once Ann finally texted her back.)”
Ann didn’t agree to follow through on their pre-discussed crisis fee.
“The next morning, my mom woke me up, saying that Ann was at the door for me. Here’s how the convo went:”
“Me (a little groggy): ‘Hey, what’s up? Are you okay?'”
“Ann: ‘I’m alright, I just stopped by to pay you.'”
“She handed me an envelope. Ann: ‘There you go kiddo, 47 bucks.'”
“Me: ‘Wait, what about the crisis pay? I had to call your sister, it should be 57.'”
“A: ‘What crisis? I wasn’t in an accident or anything, just lost.'”
“Me: ‘You said it was if I had to use an emergency contact, you never said anything about any other requirements.'”
“D: ‘Look, just take it and be happy. A kid like you doesn’t need that much money for five and a half hours of screwing around on your phone.'”
“Me: ‘Fine, have a nice day.'”
“I shut the door and wrote it off as a loss.”
The OP was reluctant to babysit until the matter was settled.
“Fast-forward to yesterday: Ann texted me that she wanted to go out on a girls’ night and wanted to know if I was free to babysit.”
“I said that I was but that she’ll need to pay me the $10 from last time before I agree to do it.”
“She said that she won’t do that and restated her argument that it wasn’t a ‘real crisis’ so I shouldn’t get crisis pay.”
“I told her that I wouldn’t be babysitting for her until I get that $10.”
“She said that she really needed this break and called me entitled for refusing.”
“I stepped back in bewilderment.”
The OP was surprised by his mom’s opinion about the situation.
“A few minutes went by without any more texts from her, so I went to my mom to clue her in.”
“I showed her the convo, and to my surprise, my mom agreed with Ann. She affirmed that I was being entitled, that I don’t know how hard it is to be a single mom, and that I should suck it up and babysit.”
“I said that I needed time to think and headed up to my room.”
The ultimatum continued into the next day.
“This morning, Ann texted me to ask if I would babysit or not.”
“I restated my ultimatum, and she also held firm in her refusal. She said she’d find another sitter, and I said that was fine.”
“So far I’ve stood my ground, but now I’m questioning if my mom might be right.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some Redditors agreed with OP.
“Nah, there needs to be some kind of overtime/emergency clause still, or she’s just going to be hours or days late every time. She’s shown she doesn’t value OP’s time, and OP is a teenager with a sleep schedule and other responsibilities.”
“There needs to be an enforceable consequence for her being late if he’s ever going to do this again.” – 4lokosleepytimetea
“When I was younger, I used to babysit. Anytime someone stayed out THAT much later than their expected return time, I pulled the plug on that business relationship. Your time has value. Your WORRY has value.”
“You used a crisis number. The person on the other end of the phone felt it so crisis-worthy that they came over to the house to assist.”
“You had an agreement, and she went back on it. This doesn’t make you an a**hole, or her, for that matter. This is a contractual disagreement, and you’re making the right choice by parting ways.”
“There are plenty of other people out there that need babysitters (and clearly plenty that she can replace you with). NAH.” – CatDog4565
“This is a tough one, but I’m going to say NAH. I certainly understand both points of view. When Ann was talking about handling a crisis, she was thinking about handling hospital visits or something terrible happening to her kids.”
“While the situation may not have been a crisis for Ann, it was for you. From your point of view, the mother of the two kids you were babysitting was missing.”
“At the end of the day, you two had a verbal contract agreeing to the terms of your employment. Wanting her to abide by those terms doesn’t make you the AH. However, keep in mind that she may stand firm and not pay you, then you’re out of the work. It sounds like you’re okay with that.” – Careful_Piece_5258
“However: ‘She leaves me with a list of emergency contacts if something happens and she can’t get home fast enough.'”
“Nothing happened, except her being late. Is that an emergency in itself? I am not sure. Therefore, I can understand her point of view. However, some of her comments are out of line.”
“You cannot be forced to babysit. If you want to hold onto those ten dollars, you can do that, but of course, if she has another sitter, you might lose an income.” – commentator1337
“Stand. Your. Ground. They’re trying to trick you because they think ‘this silly kid doesn’t need to know about finances. That’s adult business.’ They’re the ones being entitled.”
“As you couldn’t reach her for OVER AN HOUR and were under the impression something had happened, that definitely qualifies as an emergency. The mom is just being a cheap a**.”
“Unless she caves, which I doubt because she seems like a stubborn a** person that probably owes people a lot of money, that she personally doesn’t think she owes them.”
“Don’t let anyone take advantage of you when it comes to money especially when working. They think just because you’re a kid and when you call them out on shorting you $10. That’s ‘entitled’? Nah. Ann can go pound sand. I highly doubt she can find someone to work for her for less than $10 an hour these days…”
“NTA. Ann, a word of advice if you somehow happen to see this. Pay for shoddy work, get shoddy results. Don’t be an a** to someone doing you a favor! You’re entitled!! NOT the OP!” – CanandianDeathMetal
But others felt the OP was making something out of nothing.
“YTA. Firstly, you wrote the 10 off, but you’re still trying to get it.”
“While I don’t disagree with your reasoning, it was unreasonable, and she should have told you that you wouldn’t be able to contact her. More should have been done to decide what makes an emergency beforehand, however, you share just as much blame there as she does.”
“Secondly, If you look at the amount you got, $47/$8.50 = 5.53 hours of babysitting. It looks to me like she paid you for 4 or 5 hours, but paid the extra 1.5 hours or 30 mins, which either way is $4.25 she didn’t have to pay you as you get paid by the hour (or $12.75 if you agreed you don’t get paid extra for her lateness).”
“Thinking monetarily, if she does get another babysitter, you will lose all your income because of your stubbornness, instead of this $10. She’s not trying to dock your pay or anything. $8.50 is reasonable when you’re 16 and can be doing homework or screwing around for a lot of the time as if you were at home.” – The_Procrastinator_1
“YTA. There shouldn’t be charges for crisis pay. It’s part of babysitting.” – crazyhouse12
“Ugh. So either ESH or NAH. This was a misunderstanding. You took it to mean if you literally had to call someone else you’d get a bonus $10. She took it to mean if there was an ACTUAL emergency, she would pay $10 extra.”
“Have you ever babysat for anyone else? You don’t need to panic when someone’s late. Parents are usually late. Calling her sister to cover for you was overkill unless you absolutely needed to be back home by a certain time, and she knew about it.”
“For both of you to be so petty over a MISUNDERSTANDING over $10…”
“ESH.” – BougieSemicolon
“ESH. You’re young, but you’ll learn that part of becoming an adult is learning to cut people some slack and not squeeze every dollar out of them. It’s also clear she’s not loaded with money. Your mom is right to tell you to let it go.”
“She sucks for not giving you the $10 when you asked for it and then clarifying what counts as an emergency in the future (this was not an emergency; people are late sometimes).” – KoolAidMan4444
“I’m a single mom and have had sitters kinda go harda** on me. They annoy me, and it’s their right. I found another sitter and let them go on. It’s called agreeing to disagree.”
“I didn’t withhold money for services. It was a sitter who wanted me to pay for canceling (when we didn’t agree to that). Then she went off cause I wouldn’t let her bring her boyfriend over the next time (it was a Saturday night, and she claimed she deserves to have a life too?!? It’s work, in my honest opinion).”
“Another sitter said she only accepts bookings of four hours or more I said okay and left it. When I got desperate, I offered her a four-hour payment for two hours of babysitting. She came over and told me she would clean because she felt bad getting paid for nothing basically just sitting around since my kid is pretty easygoing and doesn’t want her attention. We reconciled naturally.”
“To each their own. You made your choice, now live with it. It doesn’t make you an AH unless you feel you are.”
“I can tell you it doesn’t seem like a lot of cash to you, but it adds up for the mom who’s already feeling guilty cause that money would go to their family, but they’re having to take from there to have any time to themselves.”
“For me, I can only have time like that when it’s absolutely worth the cost of just leaving my home. Dating is just a no-go. I was spending hundreds a night to spend time with my boyfriend…I had to give up on it, given I wouldn’t bring a man home before it was time to meet my kid.”
“Your mom is right that you don’t get how hard it is. And you’re right that it’s not your problem. Go find clients who can afford you, then. Leave your neighbor alone. She has bigger issues than a teenager’s ultimatum over ten bucks. That’s all it is.” – mayfeelthis
The OP’s fellow Redditors were divided over the typical concerns associated with a babysitter, including their pay per hour and the value of their time.
Some thought the OP was right to enforce the additional fee for having to call an emergency number, at least in this case before the terms were clarified, and the mom also should have been more considerate of the OP’s time.
Others, however, thought babysitting was an easy job, especially when an emergency hadn’t actually happened, and the OP should have been grateful for any income at his age at all.
It just goes to show there are always going to be people who will try to enforce lesser working conditions so they can come out ahead, while others will advocate.