Grief can manifest itself in a number of different ways. For adults it can become isolationism, or anger, or drinking.
For children, it can be a number of different difficult behaviors.
Reddit user xmasiatah2020 found themselves at the receiving end of some of these difficult behaviors, dealing with two young kids who lost their mom. Their behavior caused property damage in xmasiatah2020’s house.
Worried they may have crossed a line in their reaction, they went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for some perspective.
“AITA for being upset my nephews broke every toilet in my house?”
Our original poster, or OP, told us the situation which lead to all of her toilets meeting an end.
“My husband’s brother (my brother-in-law) and his two kids (boys 13 and 8) were staying with us for christmas. They’ve had a rough year because his wife died in March.”
“The kids are a handful because of it, but I’ve been trying to be gracious. Yesterday was my last straw, and I need a gut check for if I overreacted.”
“I got home from work yesterday and discovered the ground floor toilet is cracked and leaking water. It’s a mess and after shutting off the water, I ran upstairs to get extra towels and discover the upstairs toilet is cracked and leaking too.”
“At this point I’m pissed. I go to the basement and, yup, the basement toilet is even worse.”
Suspecting the kids, OP immediately wasted no time in confronting them.
“I ran into the kids on my way up with extra towels and asked wtf they did to the toilets. The oldest said ‘maybe it was the boiling water bandits’.”
“I said that makes no sense and we get into an argument. BIL came along to ask what was wrong. He was taking a nap.”
“The kids start saying the boiling water bandits did it. As we’re arguing, it comes out the kids were trying to do a prank because of ‘Home Alone’.”
“They dumped boiling water in all the toilets and tried to blame it on burglars who go around breaking toilets.”
OP then asked the family to leave while she fixed the house.
“At this point I’m saying that’s ridiculous and they’re old enough to know the difference between a stupid movie and real life.”
“BIL gets upset at this because the kids have imprinted on ‘Home Alone’ because it’s about a mother and her kid being reunited at Christmas.”
“At this point, both kids start crying about missing their mom.”
“I told them they need to leave because I need to fix my house. BIL says ‘you’re throwing us out?’”
“I explain there’s no functioning toilets in the house and if anything they threw me out of my own home because I’m going to have to stay in a hotel.”
OP is now facing blowback from her husband and brother-in-law.
“Husband is not speaking with me because the kids’ feelings are upset. He’s staying with BIL and I’m at a hotel alone while trying to find a plumber who can fix all of this. AITA”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Reddit is having a hard time deciding if there was anybody to actually blame in this situation, though some are agreeing that it’s time for the kids to sit down and have a serious talk with dad.
“Your brother in law does need to pay for it. But give him the opportunity to do it. Do NOT bring it to the attention of an insurance company that will send him threatening letters and possibly sue him.”
“Following this advice will just throw gasoline on a fire.”
“Your brother in law is currently adrift without a paddle. His kids are even worse off. So don’t be angry with them, try to be understanding.”
“Yes, he should pay for the toilets, given the opportunity he will hopefully offer as much himself shortly.”
“Also he needs to talk with his kids, but try to be patient. I cannot imagine what they are going through right now.”
“NAH here, just some kids in unimaginable pain.”~Spamacus66
“You have the right to call the cops and it will not make you an a**hole, but if you do it will permanently damage your relationship with your BIL and, based on the story, probably your husband and the rest of his family, too. I don’t think there is a simple solution.”
“You have clearly been trying to be understanding and empathetic to their situation and you deserve credit for that, which you do not seem to be receiving.”
“That is not fair. Husband, at least, should recognize your efforts even if he is willing to let more slide than you are.”
“Husband is not in the ‘wrong’ here for his reaction, either, though imo.”
“He is just prioritizing his empathy for BIL and the children, probably because he is also still deeply wounded from the death of his sibling and he can easily understand the situation.”
“This does not excuse the toilets or invalidate your feelings.”
“The kids know they did wrong. Kids do stupid sh*t ALL the time with far lesser justification. That’s just being a kid.”
“BIL knows that the toilets are expensive and a pain in the a** to fix. He’s just in pain and trying to keep his family together and get back to normal life.”
“Husband knows that your feelings are valid, he’s ignoring his own annoyance to try to be supportive here. He’s just doing his best.”
“And I’m sure there are some unspoken truths that you are holding onto as well. You all just need to sit down and talk this over. I believe this situation just calls for a little bit of honest communication.”
“Merry Whatever-You-Celebrate and good luck.”~TempusVenisse
“NTA – They don’t get to turn into human wrecking balls because their mom died. The father is overcompensating by giving them no structure or discipline, which is doing them no favors.”
“Did your husband expect you to be happy that your house has no working toilets? Where did he expect everyone to go? Spackle buckets?”~idrow1
“NTA – the ‘kids’ knew what they were doing, they damaged not only the toilets but the cause water damage to the house. Plus they made the house unlivable until the toilets are replaced.”
“BIL should be the one looking for a plumber not you and paying for it.”
“If husband can’t see that the kids were wrong and how the house was now unlivable, then you have other problems you need to work on.”~rwee2000
Still, property damage that makes a house unlivable is a serious problem. But after OP revealed that in her anger, she also said that the children’s mother was “never coming back,” opinions from commenting Redditors went all over the map.
“NTA. One toilet is one thing, but they ruined every toilet in the house.”
“Your BIL should have immediately apologized and offered to pay for any damages, instead of trying to justify their behavior.”
“For reasons that I’ll decline to mention here, Home Alone is the last movie you want to imitate unless you want a lawsuit and/ or criminal charges.”~Adventurous_Geek259
“ESH. The BIL should have been actively supervising his kids – he is lucky they didn’t sustain serious burns while playing with boiling water.”
“The oldest child should have known better than to play with boiling water (not sure if they would have understood that boiling water can cause toilets to crack?).”
“Not sure if they had the intention of cracking toilets, I agree that grief does not give anyone the right to be destructive but they are children who have seemingly gone through a lot this year and maybe can benefit from counseling to help process.”
“You were way out of line for what you said. Just as grief does not give them the right to destroy property, anger does not give you the right to be unnecessarily cruel.”
“There would have been kinder ways to talk to them about their mother.”~shehathrisen
“NTA. Where were the kids father and uncle while they were boiling and toting around enough water to crack and destroy three toilets?”
“Where were they when the kids were watching so much home alone that they decided to model their behavior on an ancient movie?”
“Grieving and bored destruction are two entirely different things.”
“The boys and their dad need professional help and you need plumbers and an investigation of any other water damage that happened from the leaking. It doesn’t take long.”
“Homeowners insurance might cover it, depending on the policy, but you rates could go way up.”~Pretend-Panda
“ESH. The kids were AHs, the BIL was a bigger AH (for not watching his kids) but the horrid things you said about their mother never coming back makes you the biggest AH.”
“I don’t care how upset you were, these kids lost their parent and you threw that in their face because you were upset.”
“You don’t do that to kids, that was cruel. You need to walk yourself to therapy, that was not acceptable, and I don’t blame your husband for being upset.”~SaltSuspect
And though OP is angry, folks are trying to be objective.
“Edit: I’m not going to change my verdict, but that comment you made to those boys may very well be the reason you never have a good relationship with that whole side of the family again.”
“What a spectacularly sh*tty thing for a grown a** adult to say to a grieving child. You should be ashamed of yourself for letting that come out of your mouth, no matter how angry you were.”
“NTA, but please take some time to simmer down before you act. Reddit loves its fucking pitch fork mob tactics.”
“They’re kids. They’re very immature, young, goofy kids who probably have no real understanding of cost.”
“Their dad had just woke up, so he was probably bewildered and confused as all hell and immediately tried to shield his kids before he could grasp what was happening.”
“Your husband is an idiot. But he’ll come around. Honestly, the wife’s death is probably overshadowing everything right now.”
“Inside of a year after her passing, with 2 young boys? There’s no rationalizing how grief will manifest and your husband, as I see it, just jumped to protect his hurting brother without trying to grasp the situation.”
“The way I see it, absolutely nobody in this story is actually focused on the toilets.”
“You were already stressed to begin with, husband is being protective of his brother, BIL is watching his boys first grueling experience with grief and death, and the kids just lost their mother.”
“You can be mad as all hell, of course. But please don’t allow a moment of rage to utterly destroy your relationship with your nephews.”
“This is exactly one of those stories that will be funny in 15 years, but horrifying in the moment. YOU should take a step back, while you’re in that motel, and unwind.”
“Figure out why you’re so stressed and start reversing that process. IMO, don’t drag those kids into the penal system over dumb shit like this.”~Half_A_Cup_of_Coffee
“NTA – they’re old enough to know what they’re doing. Their father is donc more harm than good by not giving and limits.”
“Yes it’s hard that their mother is gone, but if he let them do whatever they want they’re gonna destroy the whole house. Who don’t they destroy his toilet and he’ll see how he like it?”
“As for your husband he’s honestly the worst in all for that for siding with them, leaving you alone and letting you deal with all the mess with plumber and insurance.”~EmilieVitnux
“YTA not for being upset at your home being damaged, but the way you handled it. Reading through replies and seeing that they are upset that you:”
“Told these children that there would be no Christmas because they ruined it.”
“Told them that their mother is not coming back no matter how many things they break.”
“Like, come on. I agree that they are children who should know better than to break every toilet on the home at their age, but you’re a full grown adult who should know how to speak to other humans, especially ones that are so clearly going through the most difficult thing in their life so far.”~AndeMurphy
“You’re not the AH for being upset about what your nephews did, but you are the AH for what you said to them in the heat of the moment.”
“They’re kids who lost their mom. You could have saved the vitriol for their dad. ESH.”~AnyConstellation
OP did not let on everything that she initially said to her nephews in that post, and when the truth came out, it was a whole lot uglier than she’d lead us to believe.
So on the surface, this conflict seems simple, but in reality, it had a lot more emotional weight to it. Always read a little further in.