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Was This Mom Right to Fire Her Drunk Babysitter?

Let’s face it: Hiring babysitters and nannies to watch your children is tricky. If anyone knows how to strike the ideal balance that ensures complete trust and zero awkwardness between parents and childcare providers, they could teach courses on this. One mom and her teenage babysitter just taught us all one very useful lesson: Lock up the hard seltzer before leaving the house!

The story, as the mother shared on the Reddit AITA forum this week, is kind of a heartbreaker. The mom, calling herself ceilingfanfloortiles on Reddit, has hired a 16-year-old “sweet and quiet” girl to watch her 4-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son from 9 am to 7 pm, Monday through Saturday, all summer. (Yep, our alarm bells are ringing about that 60-hour work week, too.) When she was first hired, the mom asked the girl what kind of beverages she liked, and she said seltzer. The mom bought some for her at first, but said she had forgotten to do so recently.

“A few days ago, I bought hard seltzers for me and my husband, and didn’t think anything of it,” ceilingfanfloortiles wrote. Uh-oh. “A little bit after 2 pm she messaged me that she wasn’t feeling well and thought that she may have to go home, if it was possible if I could get off from work earlier. I asked her to try and hold out until the end of the day. Not too long after she called me crying, saying that something was wrong and she had to go home. She was drunk clearly, she drank the hard seltzers. I told her to leave, and she walked home.”

Some critical information here: The girl is the teenage daughter of alcoholics, “has diagnosed PTSD regarding alcohol,” and texted the mom a profuse apology explaining as much, saying she had no idea the seltzers had alcohol in them.

“I told her not to come back as she put my children in danger,” ceilingfanfloortiles said. “She called me crying and saying that she didn’t know, and that she cared deeply about my children and would never ever drink with them, or at all, and that she needs the money to pay for her drivers permit (she comes from a not so well-off family). I told her to find a real job and that it wasn’t my fault she got drunk.”

What a mess! On the one hand, most of us would absolutely flip out if we ever found out a babysitter got drunk while caring for our kids. And on the other, can you think back to your 16-year-old self and imagine being able to tell the difference between some of the innocently packaged hard seltzers on the market and the regular kind?

Redditors came down hard against the mom in this situation — especially when it came out that the woman was somehow only giving the girl $100 a week for being her kids’ nanny. That comes out to about $1.67 an hour for doing basically the most important job there is.

“Those seltzers are newish in the alcohol world, and I wouldn’t expect someone who hates alcohol to know that,” Ehhlnoy wrote. “How mature of her to let you know. How immature of you to do what you did. YTA.”

Many wrote in to share experiences of not quite knowing the difference between the alcoholic and nonalcoholic brands.

“Pop quiz: out of these seltzer brands, which are normal and which are alcoholic: Truly, Bubly, Social Club, Zevia, Vizzy, Spindrift, Hal’s, Henry’s, Bon & Viv, and Sercy?” Waxpapers asked. “Hard seltzer is generally deliberately marketed as being similar to normal seltzer because they’re trying to capture a section of the market that’s less into beer and the associated alcohol branding.”

They also ripped into ceilingfanfloortile for her initial reaction to the girl, who may not have even been able to recognize the fact that she was drunk if she had never been so before.

“Also refusing to come back home when her babysitter asked her to because she wasn’t physically well, but then blaming her when children are not looked after well?” darthvadercake wrote. “If your babysitter flags it up you drop work and come home to take it over. The poor girl tried to alert her, the least she could have done is listen to her.”

The criticism lobbed at the mom got so intense, this thread has been locked to further comments. But there is a happy ending to all this. Ceilingfanfloortile seems to have taken the rare step of listening to everyone. She edited her post to say that she is rehiring the girl and will give her $1500 a week for the rest of the summer, plus pay for her to get her drivers permit, to make up for underpaying her all summer.

The rest of us are now making big red signs to tape to any alcoholic beverages in our fridge the next time we have a babysitter over.

We wonder whether these famous parents, who are open about hiring nannies, have ever faced a similar problem.

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