Safety is one of those concerns that takes priority over everything else.
But, what happens when, while enforcing safety precautions, you end up insulting someone you love?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Agitated-Hyena2057 when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for putting child-proof locks on the stove to stop my adult sister from using it?”
OP began with introductions.
“I (f19) live with my stepsister Nicole (f[emale] 20).”
“We live together in a small two-bedroom apartment whilst we both attend the same college.”
“Our hometown is a small rural area that’s around a 3-hour drive away.”
“My dad married Nicole’s mother around 11 years ago.”
“Nicole and I know each other pretty well and have spent a lot of time together.”
“We haven’t always gotten along (which siblings have?), but we do consider each other sisters.”
Then she got to the problem at hand.
“Anyway, onto the story.”
“So I and Nicole both got sick of dorms and moved in together around two months ago.”
“Back at home, Nicole never cooked for herself (not beyond microwave meals, anyway), and now that we’re both supposed to be living independently, she’s started cooking.”
“Nicole keeps ‘forgetting’ to turn off the stove or oven when she’s finished with them.”
The cooking issues got increasingly more dangerous.
“At one point, this nearly caused a full-blown house fire when she forgot about the stove whilst a paper plate of hers had been left on top of it.”
“I kept gently reminding Nicole to turn off the oven/stove when she’s done with them, but she just doesn’t seem to listen. I even tried putting sticky notes around the kitchen to try to remind her.”
“Eventually, Nicole got irritated with the reminders and told me I’m treating her like a child. I said I’m sorry if it came off that way, but she needs to remember.”
“The problem has just kept persisting, and a near miss with a house fire happened again when Nicole forgot about the stove, and she didn’t hear the smoke detector because she was blasting music on her AirPods.”
“Luckily, I noticed it and was able to put it out.”
“I tried to have a talk with Nicole and told her this needs to stop.”
“Nicole just got mad before I could even suggest anything and told me to get off her case.”
“She said I’m overreacting and that she ‘can handle it.’ She refused to listen to anything I had to say and kept talking over me.”
“This has started to make me really anxious, especially when Nicole is home whilst I’m out.”
The OP thought up a plan.
“I bought some plastic child locks for the knobs that control the stove and oven, and I placed them on there. I know Nicole can’t open child-proof stuff.”
“This way, she can’t use the stove or oven when I’m out of the home.”
“When I’m home, I can make sure nothing bad happens. Me and Nicole have similar class schedules, so this shouldn’t inconvenience her too much.”
“Nicole went apesh*t when she noticed them and started screaming at me and told me I’m a control freak and bullying her.”
“I yelled back at her and told her I wouldn’t be doing it if she could act like a responsible adult.”
“Nicole called me a b*tch and said I have no business controlling when she gets to cook.”
“She’s now gone to a friend’s place and has blocked my phone number.”
“My dad and stepmother got concerned after getting texts from Nicole, and they keep messaging me about it, telling me I need to get Nicole to come back.”
OP was left to wonder,
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.
Commenters mentioned the safety issues involved.
“She nearly burnt down the house twice. Thats two times too many, especially when something as simple as turning off the stove is involved” ~ Nitro114
“Not to mention there’s a very serious liability issue.”
“It’s unclear whether OP lives in a single or multi-family dwelling, but even in the former case, a serious fire can jump from one house to the next.”
“Imagine the sh*t you’d be in if your sister burned down a neighboring home.” ~ BonesJustice
“This isn’t OP’s problem to solve, but I’m pretty concerned for the friend that is currently hosting Nicole.”
“I’m sure that whatever version of the story that friend heard did not include ‘my stepsister is mad at me because I nearly started a kitchen fire on two separate occasions.'”
“If the friend knew that, they may have made a different decision about allowing Nicole to stay in their place, which presumably also has a kitchen.” ~ baffled_soap
“You are treating her like a child- because she’s acting as irresponsible as one.”
“This isn’t a little issue like leaving lights on or forgetting some house rule like keeping the bathroom door closed”
“This is a literal safety issue. You can burn down a house.”
“She’s too irresponsible to be using a stove”
“If she wants to be treated like a normal adult who’s free to cook whenever she wants-“
“Then she needs to get her sh*t together and do it without nearly killing everyone in the house and burning it down.” ~ myfoust
Some thought there might be a deeper problem here.
“Dude, she’s 20 years old, and literally child-proofing the oven works!?”
“I’m freaking dying!”
“My buddy tried to childproof their refrigerator to stop their nine-year-old from getting into it, and it took her all of 15 minutes to sort it out and get into it anyway.”
“Oh, right. You’re NTA in the slightest.”
“Left unchecked, your stepsis is seriously fixing to burn the place down and seriously doesn’t seem to be bothered by that fact. Not cool at all.” ~ EvoAnubisX
“Honestly, it seems like there’s a competence issue here. She can’t undo child locks…”
“She can’t operate a stove without killing everyone… “
“I think there might be a hard conversation that needs to be had.” ~ Facetunethis
“I feel like she doesn’t have the patience or attention span to figure out the locks… just like she doesn’t have it to turn off the effing stove.” ~ wordsmythy
Workarounds and precautions were mentioned.
“If her parents are really concerned for their safety, the OP should ask them to buy a modern stove/oven with an auto-shutoff and an alarm.”
“(But if the range is electric, maybe it doesn’t need to be replaced because it should be possible to install a third-party device that automatically shuts off the electricity).”
“This way, it becomes the parent’s problem to solve, not hers.”
“And they should also consider buying a fire alarm system for deaf people.”
“It’s basically a fire alarm that sets off strobe lights in every room, in addition to the alarm sound.”
“But just to be safe, I think the OP should make sure she has good fire/renter’s insurance as well.”
“She should inventory all of her possessions and have pictures/receipts. She should get a fireproof lockbox for important documents.”
“And she should have a go-bag ready just in case.”
“This child lock thing won’t work forever, especially if the parents get involved.”
“With the right tool, even a 90-year-old with frail hands can easily open child locks.”
“Personally, I would do all the research necessary, I’d take the measurements, I’d read the reviews, I’d select the model, I’d include the price of delivery and installation, and then I’d email the parents and place the ball in their court.”
“This way, the OP would have a time-stamped record of her attempt to resolve the situation, should the worst happen.” ~ DeclutteringNewbie
“Or simpler/cheaper solution for the stove top, get an induction plate (I think this is fairly safe, would double-check with the model first), and she’s stuck using that instead of the stove until she can be more responsible.”
“It also makes noise, so OP would be likely to notice it. Keeping an oven on for a long time isn’t the safest thing to do, but it’s not as dangerous as the stovetop.” ~ blackcherrytomato
There were also personal stories.
“And now I’m having flashbacks to coming back to the dorm at 3 am and a guy runs past me outside carrying a microwave before pitching it into a snow bank.”
“The popcorn inside was BLACK, but he managed not to set off the alarm that time.” ~ LadyLeaMarie
“One of my sisters nearly burnt down her first apartment ‘only’ once and was immediately evicted.”
“She was like ‘I can’t believe I was evicted over some popcorn!’ lol (She’s grown up a lot since 18, thankfully.)” ~ FunkisHen
I talk a lot here about treating people with kindness, about respecting the beautiful individuality of everyone you meet.
Which is great until safety becomes a concern.
Respecting the nuances of others does not mean allowing them to hurt you or themselves.
Be kind, but be careful.