We need clear rules about our valuable possessions when others come in contact with them. Most of the time, adults know to respect the boundaries around these things and don’t touch them, but will admire them from afar.
Children often have no such ideas about these things. They just know that they want to take part in it some way. And often, they breach these boundaries.
So whose responsibility is it? Is it the parents’, to create those boundaries? Is it the owner of the possession? Is it the child?
AdmirableProfessor81 found himself in this dilemma with his nephew, and his sister.
He went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” to discern where responsibility lies, and if he was entitled to take legal action:
“Aita for suing my sister over a poster my sister’s son destroyed?”
Our original poster, or OP, set up the situation involving his Marvel poster:
“My sister brought her kids over two weeks ago. In my office I have a vintage Marvel poster signed by Stan Lee and the artists of the poster. The poster is over thirty years old. Her son saw this and thought it was really neat and wanted me to give it to him.”
As nicely as he could, he told the little boy “no”:
“I tried being diplomatic but let him know that wouldn’t happen. For certain reasons, my office door locks behind me and you need keys to open it.”
“This is important. Fast forward the next day.”
“We’re going to the park and I can’t find my keys. We’re looking around the house and I hear her daughter yell out ‘oh no!'”
“Oh no” indeed, for what OP and his sister found was exactly what you fear:
“And my sister and I go running. Her son has opened my office and climbed on the desk to get the poster down.”
“In doing it he managed to tear it in half. I’m furious. This poster is not only irreplaceable, I got it signed with my now deceased grandfather.”
“It has a lot of sentimental value for me. My sister completely blew this off. Hell, she even started giggling when her daughter said ‘oh no’ the second time because she thought it sounded cute.”
Sister was completely unwilling to even meet OP halfway:
“She didn’t offer me anything, even an apology. Her argument is that I should have had my keys on me because I should have somehow expected that her son would try to take it down from the wall.”
But the rest of OP’s family, besides his mom, are on his side:
“Dad and wife are firmly in my camp. Dad recognized how important this was to me because it was only a few days before he suddenly passed away and was the last thing we did together.”
“My mom and sister are acting like it’s no big deal. Sister ghosted me when I texted her asking about compensating me for the poster.”
But since that poster is valuable, legal proceedings are on the docket:
“In case anyone is wondering, when we moved into my house, we had the poster appraised at $3k due to the condition and rarity of this particular poster.”
“I was informed after Stan Lee’s death, it went up but we didn’t have it reappraised. This particular one does go on eBay and unsigned fetch north of $2k.”
“When I served her, my mom called me up telling me it was no big deal and she said she found another poster on eBay and when I saw the link I realized it was completely different, and wasn’t signed, or anything like that. It wasn’t even the same year.”
This is causing even more drama with his sister:
“Now sister is complaining to mom that I’m ‘being mean’ for going after her and not taking her offer and instead making her pay for it.”
“She thinks I should just let this go because ‘kids will be kids’ so AITA here?”
Redditors helped OP decide where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Reddit was clear that OP was not in the wrong.
“NTA. She is 100% responsible for her son’s behavior. I don’t care if it was even on the floor of your office…. Her kid was old enough to be sneaky and go around all of the normal security you had in place.”~wickedlucky214
“OP – NTA. It seems obvious that your mom didn’t teach your sister responsibility for her actions, and in turn your sister didn’t teach it to her son. Since your sister has no care about the damage, and even thought her son BREAKING INTO your office, was funny, a lawsuit is the least she could expect if she didn’t pay up. I’d let her know that alternatively you could go through your homeowner’s insurance, but that you’d have to file a police report and charges, which you don’t want to do because they are family, and he is a kid, but that’s the ONLY alternative.”~elvaholt
“At this point it feels like the principal of the thing. Sister offered no apology, no compassion or empathy and no offer to make up for the damages her son caused to not only a valuable piece of memorabilia but to something extremely sentimental to OP. Sister and her son need to learn that actions have consequences.”~Maleficent-the-Great
“NTA – your sister son KNEW that the poster was not going to be his. What her child did was destruction of property, and you have every right to serve your sister. She didn’t even care, she claimed that you should have known he would do it! Giggling at daughter saying ‘oh no’ when something sentimental of yours got destroyed is ruined.”
“Ask her and your mom how they would feel if something expensive and sentimental of theirs were destroyed. Tell them to put themselves in your shoes, that poster meant a lot to you since they don’t seem to care. How on earth were you supposed to know that he’d do that? Maybe she should be.”~TinyDancer_315
In fact, not one person could find a reason to side with OP’s sister.
“Wow NTA, kids only act like that when they havent been raised right. The child was told no that should have been the end of it, you had made sure that the poster wasnt easily accessible to him and he decided to take you keys and help himself to your property. The kids will be kids excuse is just your sister mot taking blame for her own shit parenting.”
“Unfortunately because of the sentimental value your poster cant be fully replaced but you can teach your sister that actions have consequences.”~WastedGoblin
“That’s exactly what I was thinking. This kid had sense enough and was BOLD enough to steal the keys so he sneak in and steal a poster he was already told he couldn’t have. He knew exactly what he was doing. I don’t give a damn if the poster was $10 from Amazon, he was told no. He lacks boundaries and clearly has never been told ‘no’ before. Sue her pants off OP, maybe then she’ll discipline her child properly before he gets arrested for something even more serious.”~Black-Morticia
“NTA. Threaten to take her to small claims court if you have to. There’s no reason she shouldn’t be responsible for getting you the closest version possible even if you’ve lost the sentimental attachment to the first one. I’m so sorry this happened.”~rileygreyy
“NTA. Oh my god, the fact she hasn’t even apologized or disciplined her son over this is awful.”
“Just the emotional aspect of it as well with your grandfather.”
“Honestly if you’re going to be around kids you need to expect something to get broken at some point. They’ll do that.”
“But this is SO different. You kept this poster in a locked room! Her son stole your keys. He broke into your office without anyone knowing to steal your poster. Man your sister lost all rights not to get sued if she’d rectified this as soon as possible and treated it as seriously as it deserves.”~flubdibdub
Plus it seemed like OP’s nephew knew exactly what he was doing; going so far as to steal OP’s office keys in order to get to the poster:
“NTA, not even a little bit. A kid that is old enough to sneakily steal keys to a locked room to go in and steal a poster is old enough to know better than to do all of that. Your sister isn’t doing him any favours here.”~Amara_Undone
“NTA. Re:’kids will be kids'”
“Sorry no, kids will be the remorseless, destructive little sh*ts you let them be. I don’t know how old this kid is, maybe he’s genuinely naive and has been allowed to run riot or maybe he should really know better. Regardless, your sister is hugely disrespectful of your belongings, home and emotions and her kids are too, you have every right to be pissed.”~riano25
“NTA. Your sister had an opportunity to teach nephew (and niece) about respecting other people’s property, taking no for an answer, and taking responsibility when you damage someone else’s things. Instead, she taught them that actions don’t have consequences and it’s ok to take what you want and destroy it in the process. Your mom needs to get off her high horse and realize that if the child had done that to a non-family member the same consequence could have been had. Sue her. And I’m so sorry your prized memento of your grandfather was ruined.”~scallen2011
“NTA. Your sister is being selfish and dismissing what’s important to you because she doesn’t value the same things.”
“I do have a possible alternative to suing, though? If you can find a book restorer or restoration shop that works with paper goods, they may be able to glue/repair the tear in the poster. No, it will never be quite the same. But if you can get it repaired, and then framed in a high-quality frame behind glass, you don’t have to lose this precious piece of your history with your grandfather.”
“And I personally think (not a lawyer or anything) that while suing your sister probably wouldn’t work out, pointing out to her the difference between her paying the full multi-thousand dollar value of the poster, and paying the several hundred dollars to have it professionally restored and then custom-framed may be a compromise you can both live with.”
“Again, your sister is fully in the wrong here. She is the a**hole, and so is her son. But honestly, if it were me, I’d rather have my OWN poster, repaired and protected, than a new poster that wasn’t attached to the memory of my grandparent, and by proposing this solution you can appear to be reasonable and compromising to keep the peace in the family.”~HazelBright
OP and his sister are in for a longer conflict, regardless of how the immediate problem of the poster is handled.
We wish the best to the family as they navigate a truly difficult conversation.