Whenever we care for someone else’s child, there is likely something about that responsibility that we don’t want to do, like cleaning up or playing certain games.
But when it comes to basic safety, hygiene, and health, that’s absolutely our job while the child is in our care, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Subject-Work-7914 was surprised when his five-year-old niece approached him for help with cleaning up after herself in the bathroom despite being potty-trained.
When his sister criticized him for refusing to help later, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he should have been more helpful to his niece.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for not wiping my niece’s butt?”
The OP was babysitting his niece.
“I (18 Male) frequently babysit for my older sister (27 Female) who has two twin children, 5 (Female) and 5 (Male).”
“Last week, I babysat from around 8 am until 7 pm. Everything was going smoothly and the kids were well-behaved as usual. However, at around 5 pm, my niece started yelling for me from the bathroom.”
His niece asked him for something he was uncomfortable with.
“I asked her what was wrong and she asked me if I could wipe her butt.”
“I asked her why she wants me to wipe her butt and she said that sometimes her mom wipes her butt and she wanted me to do it.”
“I told her no and said to her that she needs to wipe it herself this time.”
“She started crying and said that she wanted mom.”
“I told my niece she needed to wipe her own butt and that she was more than capable of doing it.”
“Eventually, my niece came out of the bathroom and we didn’t discuss this again.”
The OP’s sister lashed out at him for how he chose to babysit.
“Well, when my sister came home, it turns out my niece decided that not wiping and leaving turd crumbs in her underwear was the better option.”
“My sister got really pissed and asked me why I thought it was okay to leave my niece sitting in her own poop. I told her that my niece is not a baby and more than capable of wiping her own butt.”
“My sister said that that was irrelevant and that my niece is still a child and I was being negligent.”
“I feel like my sister is being unreasonable, as I didn’t feel comfortable wiping my niece’s butt nor did I feel comfortable checking her underwear for poop.”
“My sister said that I’m being difficult and said if I’m going to be that way I shouldn’t babysit again.”
“My parents think that my sister is right and that I was being silly by refusing to wipe my niece’s butt, however, I think the whole situation is ridiculous and shouldn’t be a huge deal.”
The OP updated the post with two clarifications.
“No, I am not being paid to babysit. My sister does me favors like giving me rides (I can’t drive due to a medical condition) but that’s about it.”
“We live in the UK where kids start school at age 3 so yes my niece is already in school. I usually only babysit for a couple of hours so I can’t say for certain if this is a one-time thing with my niece but hopefully, it is.”
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 thought the mother should have communicated with the OP beforehand.
“ESH. Your sister should have communicated her expectations to you so you could have told her then that you were uncomfortable with that.”
“But I personally think you should have just wiped her then. Better for you to be uncomfortable for a minute than for a child to sit in feces, which feels abusive to me. She could develop a skin irritation from that. Or maybe you could have made her shower and taught her how to wash her butt then.” – CairoRama
“I mean, I have a 5yo daughter. I have shown her many many times how to wipe but she sometimes still asks for help. I think my son did the same thing until around that age. Now he never would (at 7).”
“We had a talk a few months ago about how she was turning 5 soon and starting school at the end of the summer and needed to be able to wipe herself at school, and that seemed to help her and now she does basically all the time. But I wouldn’t blame her if she was having issues one day and wanted extra help from me.”
“That said, when she was 4 and fully potty trained but still sometimes called me to help her, I would always want my mom/sister/SIL (only people who babysat her) and told them she might ask for help and how to deal with it (ie, wet wipes I provided she could use if needed, sometimes she just needs someone to help her unroll the toilet paper if it feels stuck to her, etc, telling her to do her best) and made sure they were okay with it.”
“So that said I don’t blame OP at all, he should have been warned. I don’t blame the mom for the daughter still needing help, but the mom knows she still needs help and should have made that clear.”
“Years ago as a new parent, I babysat my friend’s potty trained 3yo and was shocked when he asked me to come to help him wipe. In retrospect, he was only 3 (so I did) but I was like, wait you potty train and STILL have to help them?!?” – Engineer-Huge
“NTA. At five years old, she’ll be going to school and a teacher won’t wipe her butt either. Maybe instead of your sister chastising you, she should be teaching her child to wipe her own ass. She’s doing a disservice to her child by not teaching her independence in that regard. I see a lot of crumbly underwear in your sister’s future.”
“And is telling you that you won’t be babysitting anymore supposed to be a threat? I mean it sounds like you’re doing her the favor when you babysit, not the other way around.” – ladygreyowl13
“You probably don’t know this if you don’t have kids, but not all of them have great self-hygiene at that age. Possibly your sister should have mentioned this to you.”
“Either way, if a child can’t properly clean themselves, they need care. You could discuss it with your sister later.” – FeministFlower71
“NTA. If her mum sometimes wipes her butt, it means she sometimes does it herself and is therefore perfectly capable of doing it. At 5 years old kids already start school, and no one will be wiping their butts there. On the other hand, why not just stop babysitting?”
“OP is 18, is not a professional, and doesn’t have kids. The niece is potty trained and goes to school. I don’t think it’s a crazy thing to assume that she can wipe by herself.”
“If the kids still need help with the toilet, OP’s sister should have let him know in advance. Otherwise, she can’t be mad that his judgment doesn’t match her expectations.”
“I also disagree with the notion that OP punished his niece. He didn’t intentionally let her sit in her own poo, he thought she cleaned herself up.”
“As an afterthought, I think OP is NTA for this situation specifically because he thought the kids were more independent than they are. Now he knows that they can’t always manage to wipe themselves and that their mum expects whoever babysits to help. He’d be an asshole if he babysat again but still refused to help kids wipe.”
“I’ve also realized that mum ‘sometimes’ helping her wipe could mean that she wipes by herself when she pees, and mum helps with poop. In which case though, she really should have let OP know in advance.” – AwkwardBugger
Others were angry with the OP for not putting his feelings aside and helping his niece.
“NAH, but this has bugged me for a long time. I babysat a similar-aged boy, regularly, and had the same reaction as you.”
“I did feel bad later when mom explained that sometimes he had difficulty with getting everything clean, and she had trained him to ask for help. That him asking showed his trust in me.”
“I felt ashamed later that I didn’t help him. I’ve wiped adult a**es since, trying to help preserve their dignity, because they were ill or dying, and it’s not a big deal.” – pachinasunrise
“First off, in the UK children do not start statutory schooling aged 3, it’s 4 turning 5 thing.”
“A 5-year-old child will sometimes require help with wiping. I think you were being negligent, particularly when the child became distressed. You have a duty of care when in charge of the children.” – Inner_Gap_4360
“You are the AH. You don’t let kids sit in poop. If you’re babysitting, you’re the adult responsible for their health and wellbeing.”
“Whether you think they can or not, there are plenty of reasons kids sometimes need help with a task you may think they are capable of. And forcing the issue doesn’t help them.”
“It would have taken a few seconds to help and move on. Instead, you risked a child having a painful rash or infection. It’s a stupid hill to die on when you’re talking about a literal child who needed your help.” – Least_Tourist_2929
“Your niece was calling you for help. When she said, ‘sometimes my mom wipes my butt,’ you took it to mean that she’s perfectly capable of willing her own butt. No. It means that sometimes she needs help and is not capable under all circumstances. You did not understand this, that’s fine.”
“YTA not because you didn’t understand this, but because you refused to help a small child in your care when she asked for your help.”
“You don’t want to wipe her butt. 1) Yeah, well that’s childcare, and also 2) go help her, don’t leave her alone needing help, even if you don’t plan to wipe her butt. ‘Let’s figure this out together.’ Get her wipes, and instruct her.”
“Your sister is correct that she shouldn’t leave her daughter in your care because you aren’t willing to help her when she needs help, and your niece knows it, and as a parent, I’d be concerned about safety. I’d be worried that my child wouldn’t bother to ask you for help in the future when she needs help.” – Healthy_Meal1485
“Yes, the kid can and should be able to wipe herself, however, there are instances where they need adult assistance, particularly for really difficult or smeary poops. Remember, at this age, they’ve only been independently wiping for a short time and can absolutely still struggle with more difficult wiping jobs.”
“This adult she trusted totally let her down by ignoring her in her time of need. He could’ve coached her through it or at least verbally checked after the kid came out of the bathroom rather than just not discussing it again. Or maybe call his mother or sister to talk to her and coach her through it. He had options, but he chose to do nothing and ignore it.”
“Also, I find it unlikely that this kid just decided not to wipe her butt. Chances are, she tried but couldn’t get it all because it was a situation where she needed the HELP that was refused to her.”
“And your attitude about it being ridiculous and not a huge deal makes you a double asshole. You just put your niece at risk of a UTI or a vaginal infection. Both of those things could make her very sick.”
“If my brother did this to my kid, there is no way I would ever let him around my kids unsupervised.” – 27dayz
Though the subReddit could understand the OP feeling hesitant to get involved with this, they otherwise agreed that it was his responsibility as a babysitter and caregiver. Especially when a child asks for help with something, that’s more than likely the moment they need it the most.