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'AITA for making my niece eat leftovers as a punishment while others had pizza?' UPDATED

'AITA for making my niece eat leftovers as a punishment while others had pizza?' UPDATED

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Babysitting comes with challenges, even moreso when you're babysitting for family who parent different than you.

In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a woman asked if she was wrong for not letting her niece have pizza after she behaved rudely. She wrote:

"AITA for making my niece eat leftovers while others had pizza?"

My (39M) sister-in-law (31F) had her bachelorette party on Saturday. I volunteered to babysit her daughter "Tammy" (fake name, 9F) and my wife's cousin's kids (9M and 7F) at my place while my wife (37F), her sister and their cousin went to the party. Also present were my own kids (11M, 7F and 2F).

For dinner, we decided to have pizza. I made the order through an app. Now, I still don't really get what happened, but the order was taking forever and I was unable to contact the delivery guy. The pizza place wasn't helping either. After waiting for 90 minutes, I decided to cancel the order and pick a different restaurant.

The reason I'd waited so long to cancel was because this was both my daughter's and Tammy's favorite pizza place. I managed to get my daughter to support the new restaurant by telling her they put ketchup on the pizza (don't kill me), but Tammy was insistent in the first one. She had a crying fit while we were placing the new order.

Even after she calmed down, she was still grumpy and short with the rest of us. At first, me and the kids made efforts to cheer her up, but then she started telling us to "shut up" or "leave her alone" whenever we tried. Throughout the wait, I reminded Tammy and the other kids that if they didn't behave, they wouldn't eat the pizza. She still complained about the new restaurant multiple times.

When the pizza finally arrived, Tammy opened the box and said, "I'm not eating that sh*t." She said that in front of the younger three. At that, I put leftover chicken pasta in the microwave and told her that was her dinner. She started crying, saying she wanted the pizza and would behave herself, but I held my ground. Tammy didn't eat any of the pizza, but all the others did.

My SIL is calling me unfair and cruel for forcing Tammy to have leftovers while the other kids ate pizza. She's also accusing me of favoring my wife's cousin's kids (and my own), and insisting that there were better punishments that didn't involve excluding Tammy. My wife's completely on my side. Her cousin is on the fence. AITA?

EDIT: To clarify, the pizza arrived at 20h30. The kids had snacks at 18h and a large group lunch before that, so none of them were hungry.

EDIT 2: Some people seem to think this was a party/social gathering for the kids. It wasn't. I was babysitting. I was the only adult responsible for them. Also, Tammy is neurotypical. And once she told us to leave her alone, we did just that.

EDIT 3: I had 3 hours of sleep last night. Turns out trying to decide between "not letting my niece eat pizza" or "making my niece eat leftovers" with this brain was a bad idea. It drives me nuts every time I read it.

EDIT 4: I only told my daughter about the ketchup because she likes it on pizza. None of the other kids heard me talking to her.

Redditors had a lot of comments and questions.

indicatprincess wrote:

"When the pizza finally arrived, Tammy opened the box and said, 'I'm not eating that sh*t.."

She is 9. That's too young to speak this way, and she's simultaneously too old to behave this way. NTA.

OP responded:

From what I gather, Tammy knows what words like that mean, and that she's not supposed to say them. I think that was the nail in the coffin for me.

sunshine___riptide wrote:

You did good OP. You said if they misbehaved they wouldn't get pizza. Tammy misbehaved. She also said she "isn't eating that shit" which a 9 year old shouldn't say, and she didn't want to eat it! So you respected her initial decision and gave her harmless consequences for her actions. She didn't behave and so no pizza.

You did good not giving into her any after she started crying and saying she'll eat it. Actions and consequences. I wonder if her parents give in often when she's a brat.

just_a_girl_23 wrote:

NTA. You still fed her so it's not like it was a really unreasonable punishment. (INFO: What did others think was a more reasonable punishment?). Tammy f#$ked around and found out. Welcome to real life, kiddo! She's obviously not used to people following through on their threats of punishment. Even ignoring the tantrums, the swearing and in front of really little ones justifiably sealed her fate imo.

OP responded:

"What did others think was a more reasonable punishment?"

My SIL suggested that I could have told her about it after she picked up Tammy, and she would have figured something out.

isupposeyes wrote:

So until then you’re just not supposed to feed her at all?? or is the idea “give her pizza and i’ll punish her later”? (hoping SIL was going for the latter because the former is unacceptable). seriously though you did the right thing. she literally said she wasn’t eating it so you gave her other food.

OP responded:

Yes, SIL wanted me to give the pizza and let her deal with Tammy later. Knowing my SIL, I'm not sure that would have actually happened.

Quick-Possession-245 wrote:

If Tammy hadn't been such a pain, she would have gotten pizza. The danger with allowing one child to say "I'm not eating that s#$t" is that it tempts the others to also get on the bandwagon. You nipped it in the bud. That is not favoritism, it is consequences. NTA.

latenightneophyte wrote:

My daughter once shouted, “I’m not f&&king eating that SLOP!” My reply was, “you’re right. For the next three nights you are cooking your own dinner and may not eat anything anyone else makes or purchases, even if it’s your favorite meal.” She has yet to repeat that mistake. NTA.

Roughly two weeks later, OP jumped on with an update.

It's been almost two weeks since I posted, and I can now say that the situation has been resolved. First of all, I want to state that I always knew this was a parenting problem. We love my wife's sister, but she's not a great person. She's loud, abrasive and occasionally selfish. SIL also has the mouth of a sailor.

She shares that last trait with both my wife and their mother, but unlike them, she can't control herself in inappropriate settings. She doesn't swear around young children and has taught Tammy that swearing is bad, but doesn't punish or berate her for doing so. SIL is part of the "kids + swearing = comedy" squad, so she usually just laughs.

While I'm also an honorary member of that squad, there's a time and a place for that. Which is why I was appalled at those who said Tammy's actions were normal behavior for a 9-year-old. It's not. That part I already knew was rude; my question was whether I was right to deny her pizza over it. And after reading your comments, I've concluded I did the right thing.

Some of you advised me to refuse to babysit Tammy from now on. I decided I wanted to give SIL and Tammy an opportunity to apologize first. My wife called her sister and told her that neither me or her would agree to babysit Tammy again without an apology. SIL didn't think they had anything to apologize for. They had a long discussion over the phone.

It stopped when SIL called their mother, who took my and my wife's side. MIL agreed that we had every right to refuse to host someone who didn't respect us in our home. That's when SIL finally apologized to us; Tammy doing the same soon after. We have no interest in blowing things out of proportion, so both apologies have been accepted. SIL's wedding is later this month, and we're all attending.

I don't want people to think my niece and SIL are bad people. They can be difficult at times, but we love them both. So both me and my wife have agreed to continue babysitting Tammy on occasion. But if history repeats itself, I won't hesitate to nip this in the bud.

The main piece of advice I'm following from your comments is to, while babysitting, treat everyone the same (and hold everyone to the same standards) as my own kids. It's what I did with the pizza fiasco, and I'll continue to do it in the future.

On a lighter note, we live in Latin America, and the overwhelming surprise at some details I shared in my post, including military time and ketchup on pizza (yes, I know it's awful, but it's popular with some kids around here), was definitely interesting.

The internet was still in OP's corner.

__hughjanus__ wrote:

I think you did the right thing. What gets me though is that it took your MIL to convince your SIL and niece to apologize. I wouldn't be too surprised if nothing actually changes behavior wise.

tipsana wrote:

I’m betting that your niece will be better behaved with you than with her mother from now on. You taught her that you will follow through on consequences.

erichwanh wrote:

Ketchup on pizza? As my mom would say, "qué clase de mierda es esto?"

... but then again, my mom was also a sh*t cook, so what did she know.

OP responded:

My daughter's godmother is Italian. Pretty sure she wants to murder me whenever she sees my kid putting ketchup on pizza.

aj0457 wrote:

I don't think your SIL or niece are actually sorry for their actions. They only apologized because they want you to continue babysitting.

OP responded:

I'm not sure they're actually sorry either. If this ever happens again, we won't babysit Tammy anymore.

Hopefully, this apologies comes with some actual change in behavior.

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