My husband (30s m) and I (30s f) have a 3yo son together, 'Max.' Max is a sweet kid but has a difficult time in unfamiliar situations and can get overstimulated easily.
A little while ago, my husband was across the country on a work trip, while I was home with Max. I got a call one morning from his manager, informing me that my husband had been in a car accident and was in the hospital. He couldn't tell me much but said that although he was stable, it didn't look good and that I should come as soon as I can.
I obviously freaked out. I booked a ticket just for myself, because it would be almost impossible to travel with Max, and I could barely afford the last-minute ticket for myself.
I called my mom who lives a few hours away and asked her to come watch Max while I'm away. At this point, I needed someone to watch Max for the time it would take for my mom to arrive so I could make my flight. Looking back, I probably could've handled the logistics better than this, but I was hysterical and was just doing things as I thought of them.
I called 3 friends - 1 didn't answer, and two were unable to help. Luckily, we live close to my brother and SIL, who have a daughter (17f), 'Sarah.' We are very close with them. Sarah answered the door and said her parents were out. I explained the situation and asked if she'd watch Max for a couple hours until my mom came.
I should note that Sarah babysits for a few local families and obviously charges them for her services. We have never asked Sarah to babysit before.
She showed some concern for my husband and when I asked her again, she said something along the lines of, 'well, you'll pay me, right? I usually charge X...' I stared at her for a moment, not really expecting that response, and then my friend who didn't answer called me back and said of course she'd watch Max.
So, I took Max and left without saying anything to my niece. I coordinated with my friend and my mom, then flew to see my husband. He ended up needing surgery, but is making a full recovery.
A few days after he was able to fly home, we had dinner with my brother and SIL. We were talking about the accident, and I mentioned that I had asked Sarah to watch Max. I also noted that I was a little upset that she brought up payment in that moment.
My brother was surprised, and said he would talk to her as that's not an appropriate reaction. My SIL interjected and said she was proud of Sarah for advocating for herself. She and I argued and she said that I was entitled for being surprised that Sarah asked for money.
To be clear, if I asked Sarah to babysit under normal circumstances, I would absolutely expect to pay her. It was unsettling that Sarah would bring up payment while, for all I knew, my husband was dying in a hospital on the other side of the country.
I think it would've been more empathetic to bring up the topic of payment after I returned + confirmed my husband was okay. My SIL is still being cold with me, and so is my niece. AITA for getting upset?
Just want to clarify as I didn't have room to include many details - my husband was stable, in that he wasn't actively hemorrhaging or anything, but he did have internal injuries that required extensive surgery. His manager couldn't tell me much on the phone as they were still examining and treating him at the time. I truly didn't know if he was going to be okay.
I would say I have a good relationship with Sarah; I watched her a lot when she was little and we are still close. She often comes to me for advice or to rant when she is arguing with her parents. We are all pretty close which is why I was surprised that she asked about money during an emergency.
I understand that you feel that your niece's reaction was insensitive to your circumstances, but it's not unreasonable to be asked to be paid for labor. Whether you're in crisis or not, you're still asking her to work.
In fact, you believing that your emergency entitles you to free labor seems problematic to me. Did you expect the doctors and nurses at your husband's hospital to patch him up for free also? Did you expect the pilot flying you to your husband's side to do so for free? No. You paid them for their services. Why is your niece exempted from that?
Gentle YTA. I understand why you reacted that way in the heat of the moment but to continue to bear a grudge for a 17 year old negotiating the terms of a labor agreement is unreasonable.
babysittingta83 OP responded:
I get what you're saying, however, I never refused to pay her. If my friend hadn't called, I would have agreed to whatever rate and left my kid with her bc I'd have no other option. I wasn't upset about potentially having to pay; like I said, if it were a normal situation, I wouldn't think twice about her request for payment, even though she's family.
I also think that asking family for help in an emergency is a bit different than enlisting the services of doctors, pilots, etc. I often watch my friends' kids for free, and even watched Sarah when she was little. In my family, we support each other no questions asked, so it was just upsetting that she showed little empathy in an emergency situation, is all.
NTA. It was an emergency, a one-off thing, and the kid is family, ffs. Your niece is sadly lacking in empathy and decency, as is your SIL. I'll bet had she agreed, you'd have done something nice for her upon your return. Glad your husband will be okay.