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Parent Called Out For Barging Into Working Mom’s House To Collect Child’s Stuffed Animal

Little boy with beloved stuffed animal at naptime
LeManna/Getty Images

Since 2020, more people are working from home than ever, and the demands of that work are not necessarily new.

But not everyone can agree about what being available looks like, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” subReddit.

After an emergency slumber party, Redditor GottaHaveSleepyDumbo reached out to a friend’s mother to get his son’s favorite stuffed animal back that he’d left behind.

But when he interrupted her work day to get it, the Original Poster (OP) later felt guilty.

He asked the sub:

“AITA for bothering a woman at home?”

The OP’s son stayed with a friend for the night during a family emergency. 

“My son (4) had a sleepover last night with a friend.”

“This friend’s parents were doing my wife (female) and me (male) a huge favor, because my wife’s father had surgery yesterday, and we needed to be there and didn’t get home until after midnight.”

“So yes, this story begins with us already in debt to them.”

But it turned out he had left something important behind at the night over.

“Anyway, at naptime today my son started freaking out because he couldn’t find sleepy Dumbo (his stuffed animal) and he cannot sleep without Sleepy Dumbo.”

I remembered that when I picked him up I didn’t see Sleepy Dumbo.”

“So I texted the mom and dad of the friend. I got no response.”

“My wife was a wreck, so I didn’t want to bother her with this, but my son was freaking out. So I told him we will get in the car and go get Sleepy Dumbo and he slightly calmed down.”

“So we drove over and I try to call them both on the way.”

The interaction with the friend’s mom was anything but positive.

“When we get there, I knocked, and we waited a bit with no answer. At this point, my son started freaking out more because he was afraid something happened to Sleepy Dumbo.”

“I tried to reassure him, but he started crying. I knocked again, and the wife of the couple answered.”

“She says she was working and asked what I wanted. I explained about Sleepy Dumbo.”

“She again said she was working, and she said she doesn’t have time to look for Dumbo and told us to come back later.”

“My son started freaking out more. I asked if we can look.”

“She said she needs to focus.”

“I promised to be fast. She let me in.”

“We get to his friend’s room, and Sleepy Dumbo was on the bed.”

“My son got him, and I hustled us out. I thanked the mom, but she was glaring at me.”

“On the way home, he hugged Sleepy Dumbo the whole time. I reminded him to be more careful with Sleepy Dumbo in the future, and at home, naptime commenced peacefully.”

The mother lashed out at the couple later.

“About an hour ago, my wife and I both got this text. I’m going to copy-paste it:”

“‘{Me} and {my wife}, I really don’t appreciate the way {me} barged into my house earlier today while I was working. I know you both have a lot going on right now but the world doesn’t revolve around you.'”

“‘{Her husband} and I agreed to do you a favor, but that doesn’t mean you get to just walk all over us. In the future, if you call and we don’t answer, that means it isn’t a good time to come over.'”

The OP felt conflicted.

“I felt very embarrassed and guilty after reading that.”

“My wife, however, is furious. She called the wife of the other couple some indelicate names.”

“I am really grateful to them for agreeing to babysit for us, and I accept that I am to blame for forgetting Sleepy Dumbo the first time.”

“I don’t know if asking to come in and get him is quite as big a deal as she’s making it out though, and my wife is p**sed. I don’t know how much of that is misplaced fear for her dad, though.”

“Am I an a**hole, or was this just an unfortunate situation?”

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 were really angry with the OP for how he handled the situation.

“Seriously, YTA. Not a gentle YTA, or a sorta one, but a big giant one.”

“You sent your four-year-old to a sleepover in the middle of the work week with a friend because you needed help. Then you didn’t check for this super special stuffed animal that you absolutely cannot live without but absolutely won’t pay $50 for a backup on eBay and you left it there.”

“Then you called multiple times and when you didn’t get an answer you rang the doorbell multiple times, then didn’t take no for an answer when you were told to come back later.”

“I work from home. Today is Thursday, and I’m over 40 hours in already. Today alone, I interviewed several developers for open positions, had design meetings with 20+ participants, and gave two presentations to senior leadership.”

“Just because I am physically at home doesn’t mean I am sitting around watching TV and waiting for my entitled friends to realize they’ve left their stupid stuffed animals at my house.”

“You owe them an apology, a gift card to a really nice dinner, and a sleepover where you take their kid and give them a break.” – Bac7

“I’m so frustrated with people who think that WFH means being available to everyone all the time. And it doesn’t mean they’re alone; they could be working synchronously with others online or via telephone conferencing. I know many call centers now how their employees WFH.”

“OP was very entitled. And his wife… grrrr.” – MotherODogs4

“I don’t expect people to be on their phone 24/7 so no reply or answer does not scream ‘not available’ to me, just that they are not using their phone right now.”

“I can be available to open the door while not replying to a text or a call because I left my phone charging somewhere or whatever while having lunch or working etc. My phone is on silent 90% of the time so I would have missed it entirely.”

“Dropping by to see if I am home is no problem (I don’t know why a lot of people think that is a problem and would love an explanation) and if I was really unavailable due to work or otherwise I would not have answered the door.”

“Where it goes to AH territory for me is when insisting even after explaining, so the verdict to OP is YTA and to apologize. OP went too far with keeping to knock after a first try and insisting on coming inside etc.”

“I just don’t understand why everyone is so upset by people dropping by their houses?” – Keetamien

“YTA. Just because she’s at home doesn’t mean you get to disturb her. You wouldn’t barge into her at an office asking about Sleepy Dumbo.” – Old-Specific3276

“Just because the location is home and not an office doesn’t make the work any less important.”

“As a remote worker, this annoys the absolute s**t out of me. I’m working, not mucking about at home and available to take all the neighborhood parcels, babysit, do laundry or the million other things folks should do in their time off.”

“YTA OP.” – Agreeable_Fall2983

But others also found the other mom’s reaction to be very over-the-top.

“OP and his wife and probably toddler were sleep-deprived, off-kilter, and partly worried about Grandad, I imagine.”

“Was going over like that a great idea? No. Was it an a**hole move? Not really. There’s a whole continuum of jerkiness. And these weren’t strangers. They are also parents of a super young child and aware of the situation.”

“A little chill would’ve been nice. NTA.” – Luck3Seven4

“Uhhhh, big NTA. It’s not a f**king crime to knock on someone’s door WHERE YOU FORGOT SOMETHING OF YOURS.” – WaitUntilTheHighway

“She could have texted back and left Dumbo outside somewhere, no need for him to knock at all. You would think a fellow parent would understand a kid’s attachment to a toy. Her response was way OTT (over-the-top).” – Penguinator53

“Sleepy Dumbo was on the bed, so the parents have likely seen it’s been mistakenly left.”

“Kids at that age are notorious for needing their fave toys, so why be so evasive?”

“I work from home and can’t imagine being so petty as to ignore a kid having a meltdown on my front doorstep. Give the kid the d**n toy, it’s literally 10 seconds, and you’re back to work…” – rainbowcardigan

“I’m not a parent, but I am a former child who was highly attached to her childhood stuffy and would not sleep without it.”

“My father once drove three hours to get it because I’d left it at my Nan’s house when we were visiting and didn’t realize until we got home, I was 7.”

“I understand the friend’s frustration at being interrupted while working she also could have communicated by sending a simple text saying it’s not a good time, I’m working can you call me at such-and-such time which would have taken 30 seconds and things would have played out very differently.”

“I’m going with unfortunate circumstances and NTA.” – sign_of_confusion

“NTA. Everyone here who says they work from home for some big super serious corporate job has a huge stick up their a**.”

“I’m an HR Director and worked from home during COVID for an agency that provided caregiving to adults with disabilities, I was busy as all h**l (do you know how many agencies I had to coordinate with? And how many of them contradicted each other? Many, and all of them), but if a parent was like, ‘Dude, my kid just needs this stupid toy so he will sleep, please take pity on me,’ I could take the amount of time that a bathroom break takes to get it from another room and give it to them.”

“It’s not like he was digging his way under the foundation of the house and panning for gold. I don’t even have kids, I don’t know if I really want them because they seem pretty inconvenient, but I’d still be like, ‘Yeah, sure, one second,’ because it’s a few minutes, and my dudes, it’s really good for you to detach from the screen every once in a while.”

“Take it from your friendly neighborhood HR Director who is in charge of employee wellness!”

“Get up. Walk around. Stare at something that isn’t a panel of blue light. Do something helpful. Try smiling. You’ll live longer, and your colonoscopies will go much smoother in the future.”

“Xoxo.” – littlemssunshinepdx

The subReddit was divided on this one between understanding the demands of working from home and empathizing with the demands of raising a child with a sentimental toy.

While the OP likely pushed too hard to get the stuffed elephant back during the workday, the other mom’s behavior might be equally questionable.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.