She held her steaming cup of coffee and stared at the monitor.
What had started as a personal spat between her and her mother over babysitting was now spread across the internet. The argument had left her livid, but now … she wondered if she would let her son go back at all.
Between work and life, Linda didn’t have the time to be with her son every day after school.
She had been thankful her mother would babysit three days a week. She was also lucky because her 5-year-old was a calm and quiet child. Little did she know there was a huge conflict on the horizon.
She picked her boy up one day. There was nothing unusual except for one comment.
“You know, your son is also eating my food and I have to go shopping again,” the grandma said. Linda handed over the bit of cash had on her. She thought that was it. Then the following week it was a demand.
“I think you should pay me to babysit,” the grandma said, handing over her son’s backpack.
Linda stood in the doorway, stunned. “Are you joking?” she asked. “No. $65 a week,” her mother demanded. “I won’t work for free.” Linda felt her hand tighten around the bag strap.
“Work? I work to you know. The whole point of your babysitting was so I could save money for my son…”
“…Besides, I’ve given you money before to help. And I thought you wanted to see your grandson.” The conversation started to escalate and she quickly left before her son saw them fighting.
Linda drove home, feeling the rage through her veins.
“Mom?” her son asked. “Does grandma not like me anymore?” It was enough to break her heart … and pile on another layer of ire. “Grandma loves you. Don’t worry, kiddo.” But as soon as they were home, she sent a text.
“This has nothing to do with your son,” the grandma said.
“It’s about you being selfish and taking advantage of me.” Linda gripped the phone so hard she wondered if it would snap. She tossed the cell in her bag. Her head reeled … but she was also conflicted. She pulled out her laptop.
There wasn’t anyone else in her life she could ask. Was she in the wrong?
She didn’t have much extra money. And what was even considered a fair wage for family and a calm kid? Was her mother being totally unreasonable? Linda let her upset flow through her fingers in a public post.
She explained everything – from her mother’s age to her son’s demeanor.
Maybe someone out there would have a solution to her problem. Because … everything so far had made her livid. She re-read her post once more and then hit enter. It wasn’t long until the world weighed in.
As expected, it was a flurry of mixed responses and a surge of emotions.
Some urged calm communication and a fair balance between what both needed. A few had run into similar problems. Then there were the people who labeled her as one of the worst daughters in existence…
“Price different daycares in your area. Then kneel down before your grandma and shower her with the $65 PLUS a huge tip!”
“Why wouldn’t you pay someone who is devoting all that they are to the love and care of your child?” There were also examples of other family members babysitting…
“Over the summer, my sister-in-law watched my 5-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son two days a week…”
“…and we paid her $100 a week for her time and energy. Why wouldn’t you pay someone who is devoting all that they are to the love and care of your child?” Some, however, had a different opinion.
“Grandma here: NO WAY would I make them pay me to watch my grandkids!”
“I watch them several days a week as both parents work full time. I’m just happy and grateful to be able to do this for them and help them out.” There were also comments about individual circumstances.
Linda read every post. Some made her feel better. Others made her want to add something stronger to her coffee.
It really boiled down to every family being different. She didn’t have that much money to spare. Her mother also didn’t have that much from retirement. She sighed, picked up the phone, and sent one more message.
“I can afford $35 a week. I can drop off groceries sometimes too.”
She waited until she was certain the message went through. The little dots appeared – what was her mother going to answer with? Would she have to find a new babysitter? The final answer, “…sigh. Fine.” It was the best Linda could hope for.