I love surprises.
The unexpected nature of the moment, whether it’s a gift or a party or an outing, always make the moment that much more special.
Of course, not every surprise is a good thing and not every person loves surprises.
So, what happens when someone tries to surprise you with not just something you don ‘t want, but a responsibility you didn’t ask for?
That was the question facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Odd_Independent_4421 when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for some outside opinions.
“AITA for refusing to be a surprise babysitter at the last minute?”
OP began with some background.
“A few weeks ago, my friend Wendy (29 Female) invited me (25F) over to her house for lunch.”
“She is a single mom with two kids, ages 5 and 3.”
“Wendy and I are not super close. We met at an old job and have hung out a few times before, just casual things like grabbing dinner after work.”
“This was the first time she has invited me over to her house.”
She explained what she was walking into.
“When I arrived, her kids were screaming and racing around.”
“The younger one slipped on the rug and started crying when I came in. The older one seemed to be taunting her and ‘play-whacking’ her with a doll.”
“Overall, it was a chaotic atmosphere.”
Then, she got to the problem at hand.
“Wendy told me she had forgotten the tomato sauce she needed for the pasta recipe she was preparing. She said she was going to pop down to the store to grab it and would be back in 15 minutes.”
“I hesitated because that would mean I would be alone with her kids, so I said that I could go to the store and get the sauce since she was busy with the kids.”
“She refused and added that she might need to pick up a few more items other than the tomato sauce, so it would be best if she went.”
“I told her I wasn’t comfortable being alone with her kids since I had no idea how to take care of children.”
“Plus the kids weren’t just quietly watching TV – they were literally running around the house, tripping over each other, and play fighting.”
“I have no children and don’t know the first thing about taking care of them.”
“She repeated it would be 15 minutes tops and that I would be fine. I challenged that and said there was no way it would only take 15 minutes.”
“What if there was a long line up at the cashier, or she had to wait for parking, etc. Her statement that she needed more than tomato sauce also implied she might take longer shopping than 15 minutes.”
“She started getting annoyed then and said something along the lines of, ‘Why can’t you just help out?’ “
“I was getting panicked about being left alone with the kids.”
“As she started putting on her shoes, I quickly put my shoes back on too and ran out the door. She started screaming at me, telling me to come back.”
“I was pretty frazzled and didn’t want to hang out with her anymore, so I just said, ‘Sorry, I have to go,’ and got in my car and drove away.”
“Afterwards I texted her to apologize for leaving, but I really wasn’t comfortable watching her kids alone in case they got hurt. She has not responded since then and it’s been 3 weeks.”
OP was left to wonder,
“AITA for overreacting and refusing to watch her kids alone for ’15 minutes’, subsequently leaving the hang out instead?”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some found the situation hilarious.
“I am so sorry but I am CACKLING at the idea of you racing to get your shoes on and get out the door before her, and a slew of loud a$$ kids in the background yelling as you peel off down the street lol”
“Sounds like she invited you over to babysit.” ~ beelovedone
Others shared personal stories.
“It’s very weird.”
“Over a decade ago in my early 20’s I had something similar happen.”
“I had a friend/coworker who had a toddler. Her parents were somehow separately raising her older son ~11. Yet they all lived in one house.”
“She asked me to come over and hang out. That’s all I thought it was.”
“But then she said she had to run to the gas station. I was left with her toddler and father (who was also a coworker I knew).”
“Well about 30 minutes later I realized what had happened. I told her dad that I had to get going and just left. I stopped being friends with her. I’m not sure wtf I would have done had I been alone.”
“I like kids but there’s a reason I’m 35 and still don’t have any…” ~ area51throway
“I’ve had one former friend pull this and she just needed a ride to the store to do a major shopping trip.”
“She didn’t want me to babysit just drive her around.”
“I had stopped doing her favors/lending money before she had the baby because the one time I asked for a tiny thing back she said ‘no’ and she never once paid back a loan.”
“(I was fine being friends with her just no more favors or loans)”
“Every other time someone pulled this; they either accepted ‘yes please go to the store’/ it’s totally normal to get a call ‘Bring an egg with you’ or other random food item.”
“But if they don’t let you go to the store 100% of the time they were trying to ditch their kids for another reason E.g go get drugs, go cheat on their spouse etc.” ~ shhh_its_me
“My f*ckin sister used to do this kind of sh*t allll the time.”
“In fact, she had my teenage daughter over to babysit her two kids within the past year, and she pulled it again.”
“Supposed to be home from an ‘adult canoeing afternoon’ by 7 at the latest…7 comes and goes, then 8, the kids are starving and my daughter isn’t sure if she should get delivery or not bc my sister won’t answer…”
“It was nearly midnight by the time she got home. She did pay her well when it was all said and done, but that was definitely out of the norm.” ~ natidiscgirl
There was even talk of ulterior motives.
” ‘It sounds planned.’ “
“I don’t believe anyone can forget tomato sauce when making a pasta.”
“Paste or purée, maybe, because that’s one of many ingredients in your sauce (which often involves measures of both, or additional tomato products like plum tomatoes)”
“- Generating the plausible deniability of either mistaking one product for the other, mistakenly thinking you had some left at home, or forgetting a recipe requires it.”
“But sauce? You can’t forget that your pasta meal requires sauce.. that’s like forgetting to buy milk when shopping for ingredients to make chocolate milk..”
“Also; if the friend were genuine, she’d let OP go buy the sauce, and do the rest of her shopping some other time.” ~ DoubleScoopEarlGrey
“NTA she was DEFINITELY setting you up to be a babysitter whilst she went out.”
“Who leaves their kids with someone who is a) uncomfortable with looking after kids, and b) they don’t have any experience with kids????” ~ lumoslomas
Some gave scripts to use in the future to avoid such traps.
“Now you know– never, ever volunteer that you are free.”
“Say– ‘why’ first.”
“Then you can’t be blind-sided. ‘Are you free?’ ‘What’s up?’ ‘Just wondering if you wanted to X….’ “
” ‘That sounds great but can’t today. Sorry’…….. if they don’t tell you why when they ask, say ‘my answer depends’ or, ‘then my answer is no’.”
“(You can always change your answer to a yes if it is something cool).” ~ annoyedgreenkittycat
There was a lot of agreement on how OP had handled the situation.
“Yeah, I’d nope right the f’ck out of that situation.”
“Not gonna watch kids that I don’t know without warning.”
“If a friend, and by that I mean close friend, wanted a little break, and told me so, I’d be more than happy to help, but you’re not gonna volun-tell me that I’m watching your rugrats on zero notice.”
“Doubly so if I’m not familiar with the kids. Triply so if they’re behaving like terrors three seconds after I meet them.” ~b33r_engineer
While I love surprises, not everyone else does.
Be careful when you’re deciding on who to surprise, and just as importantly, what that surprise is going to be.
Remember: throwing a responsibility at someone when they didn’t expect it is not a surprise – it’s an Ambush.
Noone wants an ambush.
Always set specific boundaries and stick to them, even if it means removing yourself from a situation entirely.