For anyone who has children and isn’t 100% homeschooling them, they’ll at some point face the difficult task of placing their children in some form of childcare.
Unfortunately, there are some troubling stories of childcare gone wrong, especially on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Nannythrowaway00 recently found out, for instance, that her nanny may have been portraying an inaccurate depiction of her relationship with the child she was caring for in front of the neighbors.
When the nanny tried to downplay the situation, the Original Poster (OP) did the only thing she thought she could do, which had consequences of its own.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for firing my nanny after she didn’t correct people who thought she was my child’s mother?”
The OP hired a nanny who looked a lot like her daughter.
“I (35 [Female]) am Asian American and my SO (38 [Male]) is White.”
“Our child (2) ended up getting all of my SO’s recessive genes and looks almost entirely White.”
“This is a rather sore point for me, since I often get mistaken for the babysitter.”
“We have a nanny, Mary (25 [Female]), who coincidentally has the same color hair and eyes as my child (very light, golden brown hair and greenish hazel eyes).”
“Mary is great with my child and she seems to genuinely care about my child.”
“I work unusual and long hours (emergency physician) so I don’t really see my neighbors very frequently.”
The OP recently had a confusing experience while at home.
“Today, I happened to have a day off and ran into my neighbor while walking with my child.”
“The neighbor said hi to my child and asked if I was the new nanny.”
“I said no, I’m the mom.”
“The neighbor seemed very confused and said that she had been under the impression that Mary was the mom.”
“At first, I was annoyed but assumed it was an honest mistake (a lot of people think this when they see them together because of their similar coloring).”
“However, my neighbor then told me that Mary was telling people she was the mom and that she had heard my child refer to Mary as ‘mama.'”
The OP approached her nanny with her concerns.
“I confronted Mary about this the next time she was over, and she basically brushed it off and said she didn’t actually tell people that, she just didn’t correct their assumptions.”
“I then asked her about my child calling her ‘mama,’ and Mary told me it’s short for Mary (her name isn’t actually Mary btw, but it is a name that starts with ‘Ma’ also).”
“I was really angry at that point and told her she was fired.”
“She got very upset and started crying, saying she needed the money, that she loved my child, and that this was incredibly unfair.”
“I stood my ground and she left. (I ended up leaving my child with my mom, so I could go to work.)”
Feelings after that were complicated.
“My husband came home later and got angry with me for firing Mary without consulting him and for not having any backup plan for childcare.”
“We are now scrambling to find a daycare or nanny ASAP and my mom has to watch my child in the interim.”
“My husband thinks I overreacted and that I’m just sensitive to this issue because our child doesn’t look like me.”
“I do kind of feel like an AH now because our childcare situation is a mess and Mary is out of work with no notice.”
“But at the same time, it feels really sketchy to me that someone is masquerading as my child’s mother.”
The OP also clarified what bothered her the most about the situation.
“I want to clarify that my sensitivity doesn’t stem from the fact that my child doesn’t look like me physically, but the racial undertones that come with the automatic assumption that I (a POC) must be the babysitter.”
“Most White adoptive parents are not mistaken for a babysitter while out with their POC children, but almost all POC parents of White-passing children are assumed to be a babysitter, rather than either the adoptive or bio parent.”
“I am bothered by the inherent racism in the fact that the vast majority of people assume that I must be a babysitter, despite the fact that my child is clearly treating me as a mother.”
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 empathized with the OP’s concerns.
“This is a developmental stage for most (if not all) toddlers. They learn the names of things they’re familiar with at home (mama, dada, doggy/ kitty, bottle/ apple, etc) and everything similar out in the big world becomes that name until they learn (and remember) new names.”
“So every woman becomes ‘mama’ until they learn grandma, aunt, miss, etc; men are ‘dada’ before grandpa, uncle, mister; ‘doggy’ or ‘kitty’ for animals until horse, sheep, turtle, bird, etc are learned… you get the picture.”
“The problem here isn’t that the child called the nanny ‘mama,’ it’s that she didn’t correct anyone – toddler or neighbor – and didn’t see fit to make mom and dad aware that toddler’s been using the wrong name so the parents could also help correct it.”
“I would think that part of being a nanny isn’t just about the health & safety of a child, but to also help teach them because everything is a learning opportunity at that age.” – TheTinmansDaughter
“Let’s not let the name thing distract from the fact that she is allowing her employer’s neighbors to believe that she is the child’s mother. There is something seriously f**ked up about that.” – BlueBirdOcean
“The fact the nanny minimized your feelings instead of apologizing and agreeing profusely not to do it in the future tells you everything you need to know. It’s a bummer you’re out of childcare, but better than having future problems with her and the neighbors. NTA!” – BikiniAimz
“NTA – My mother is Asian and my father is White; he remarried a White woman and has blonde kids with her and I am mistaken for the babysitter all the time. It IS painful!! I’m validating your pain because it’s real and legitimate and hurtful when you are constantly reminded that your loved ones don’t look like you and you are made to feel DIFFERENT than them because of it!”
“It’s really f**king weird she wouldn’t correct people and was possibly even pretending your child was hers?? That definitely crossed a boundary. It could have been the first warning, but I also respect your right to fire the person around your CHILD for this reason too.”
“Your SO has a point, it would’ve been a nice convo to have beforehand but I don’t think you’re an asshole for doing this. I get your pain, OP, I’m so sorry.” – og_kitten_mittens
Others agreed but also understood why the husband was worried about childcare.
“His reaction makes sense in the context of a panorama. Childcare is extremely difficult to find right now. In the US many daycares closed during or soon after shutdown. So many have less staff so they have to take fewer kids.”
“Add to it many are having fewer kids in each room for safety issues. So people are looking for nannies to fill the void. In my Reddit bump group, I’ve seen multiple people struggle to find daycares that will take their kids or nannies that are reliable that work out.”
“My daycare is awesome and they are short-staffed. We would have been screwed if we didn’t have a spot before the panorama.” – sraydenk
“The husband’s reaction is more due to the lack of a heads up and having the stress of replacing the babysitter spring in him without a conversation.”
“NTA btw (by the way), I 100% agree with firing her and get in the moment not being able to consult with your husband first but do understand where his frustration came from initially, especially if he didn’t have the full story about her pretending to be your kid’s mom around the neighborhood and having them call her mama.”
“I would give the husband a pass on the initial reaction being frustrated/upset that how things went down, and that he wasn’t able to be a part of the decision and was unprepared for the situation and reacted out of frustration from the added stress and lack of ability to prepare for the stress from the situation due to the surprise aspect.”
“Also sounds like he got defensive mainly without having the whole story and being able to process how messed up and inappropriate what Mary was doing with your daughter paired with not wanting to have to go through the stress of rushing around trying to find a new nanny/child care in a rush as soon as you can but also making sure they are good and your child will be safe and healthy with them.” – moose3025
Some even thought this could become a safety concern.
“The issue here is that Mary was intentionally cultivating mama as a nickname for the child to use and given that mom’s a POC and the child is White-passing, this can be a literal safety issue.”
“People have often refused to believe that a POC can have a White-passing child and called the cops to report a kidnapping or Called CPS on them despite being told they’re the kid’s parents. Mary also brushed off the mom’s concerns as if they’re nbd (no big deal). NTA at all” – MountainBean3479
“I’m also Biracial with a White dad and a Black mom, and I was out at a restaurant with my dad. When we went out to the car, a police officer came up to us and said some patrons at the restaurant had called because they were ‘concerned for my safety’.”
“He asked me who my dad was and I said he was my dad, and then he started asking me all kinds of questions about where I lived, my address, etc. I remember crying, insisting that it really was my dad.”
“My parents tell me this actually happened twice but I only remember the one time.” – moviequote88
But some didn’t see what the problem was.
“My 2-year-old points at women and says ‘mama’ and all older men are ‘dada’. It’s kind of funny. Today we were at the park and a woman was going for a run. Kiddo points to her and says ‘mama’.” – sraydenk
“No, but many toddlers call every female figure in their life mama/mom and every male dad/dada. it’s what kids do. that part doesn’t seem like a huge deal to me.”
“What I do wonder is how obvious the neighbors were about thinking mary was the mom. like did they say have a conversation with her and it came up or have they just been observing mary and the kid, maybe just saying hi but not actually making a comment about it.”
“also how is it that OP’s own neighbors don’t recognize her at all, is she never home during the day – even with her work schedule that seems kind of odd? her not being around while the kid is awake could be a contributing factor to her child calling other people mom” – duchess_of_fire
“Yeah I’m not really understanding how OP doesn’t know her neighbors whatsoever, so they are strangers, but she wants the nanny to feel comfortable telling them, ‘yeah I’m the nanny I’m alone in this home with a small child and I don’t live here.’ I wouldn’t correct them either” – squishandswift
After receiving responses, the OP posted an update.
“I wasn’t expecting this to get so many responses, thank you for taking the time to respond.”
“I noticed a lot of dismissive attitudes from non-POCs in the comments. This is the very same attitude that caused me to become angry with Mary. She downplayed my very real reasons for being upset and additionally implied that my child just looked White.”
“Part of being a good nanny for a Biracial child is to help that child understand and be proud of their heritage.”
“This post made me reflect on why I became so upset with Mary and realized that I had excused many microaggressions by Mary because of her youth and her otherwise good relationship with my child.”
“For example, Mary only ever gave my child the lighter-skinned dolls (despite us having dolls of all skin tones), Mary joked about how much safer our neighborhood was than hers, Mary never gave my child Asian food (even though I would leave a lot in the fridge and encourage her to heat it up), etc.”
“Maybe some of you will not understand the significance of such microaggressions, but these sort of subtle actions shape the mindset of young children.”
“That being said, I do sympathize with Mary’s financial situation so I will offer her some severance pay.”
Most of the thread understood why the OP was concerned at her nanny’s behavior around her child, though they could also sympathize with the troubles she and her husband might face in finding new childcare options.
Ultimately, it’s more important to trust the people caring for your children, and the rest will fall into place.