Mom to Nanny: I’m Not Paying for Those Books Just Because My Autistic Child Wants Them

To be a nanny is to hear a child laugh and cry,
To play dinosaurs, hide-’n’-seek and play-doh,
To play Barbies, X-Men and Mary Poppins,

To be a nanny is to teach, listen and love,
To crawl on one’s knees, have fun and be silly,
To read stories, make costumes and put on plays.

Photo: Pexels/Karolina Karolina Grabowska

To be a nanny is to be creative and imaginative,
To build train tracks, cushion houses and sand castles,
To paint, draw and use sidewalk chalk.

To be a nanny is to smile, cuddle and hug,
To say “good job,” “I love you,” and “try again,”
To be a big sister/brother, role model and friend.

To be a nanny is to feel special, loved and thankful.
To see a child grow – innocent, strong and wise –
To gain an invaluable experience and appreciate more of life.
To be a nanny is to be a child at heart!!!
— Excerpted from “To Be a Nanny” as published by Teresa Boardman

Photo: Pexels/Victoria Akvarel

Yet, nowadays, many nannies are young people who work to support their personal and school needs. They are not yet adults who can handle life and its challenges better. They also tend to make decisions based on emotions.

It was this kind of mistake which this young nanny committed out of deep affection for the child she’s been taking care of. And now, the child’s mother has just made her burden heavier because of her “ever-practical wisdom” as an adult.

In her deep irritation and dissatisfaction, this mom has even posted the problem on Reddit’s r/AmItheA–hole forum. But most online commenters woke her up to the truth about how precious good nannies are, especially the girl who’s been taking care of her autistic child.


These are the details as shared by this mom under the handle u/forresster7: “My daughter, Ruby, is 12. Recently, she has gotten into the original Star Trek show, as well as the Next Generation. Ruby is also a big reader and has started to collect a few of the old Star Trek books that she finds in used bookstores and thrift stores. These books usually cost anywhere from 50 cents to a couple of dollars. My nanny, Tessa (f22), hangs out with Ruby most days after she gets out of school. Tessa has been our nanny for over a year now, and she and Ruby get along great. Tessa is big into to thrifting and will often keep an eye out for the books Ruby wants. This is not typically a problem, and Ruby always pays Tessa back for the books using her allowance.”

However, a problem cropped up when Tessa went thrifting during a family vacation. She found some books for Ruby and texted her if she wanted them, to which Ruby said yes.

Upon coming back, Tessa brought in about 35 books for Ruby, which cost $50. But Ruby told her that she didn’t have that much money. And so Tessa approached OP and asked if she could pay for the books on Ruby’s behalf.

Photo: Pexels/cottonbro studio

How did OP react? She wrote, “I said no, as Tessa had never asked me about buying Ruby the books, nor was I aware of the conversation between the two of them. Tessa got upset, and I asked Ruby to show me the text, which made no mention of price or even the amount of books she was buying. Tessa only said that she found ‘some’ books for Ruby. Ruby is on the autism spectrum and does not read between the lines. You have to be very literal with her.”

Citing these points, OP stressed to Tessa that she should have clarified with Ruby about the amount or asked her before she made the purchase. She repeated her refusal to reimburse Ruby’s young nanny even though Tessa had tried to explain that she could no longer return the books since she bought them from a thrift store. As a result, Tessa said her goodbyes.

Photo: Pexels/Engin Akyurt

But this made OP’s daughter deeply upset. OP knew that Tessa is still studying and their family is not well-off. Now, OP wanted to ask the AITA community if she had been harsh and unfair.

Of course, the majority of the AITA community decided not to side with her. And so, OP tried to justify her practical decision in a couple of edits. But these edits did not win many hearts on Reddit.

Finally, some comments did wake up OP to the fact that some things are more important than money.

Photo: Pexels/Disha Sheta

Mollywisk wrote: “Sometimes it’s better to salvage an important relationship than to be right. Pay for the books. Let Tessa know that you can’t do so in the future, though, without talking about it. Tell her how much you appreciate her thoughtfulness, now and always.”

Starchalopakis likewise commented: “Yep. As the old saying goes…would you rather be right? Or would you rather be happy? Some battles just aren’t worth it.”

Another nugget of true wisdom from Impressive_Courage61: “Her heart was in the right place, and it’s a good lesson for the nanny now. Ruby can resell these books once she’s read them. Good nannies are so hard to find, and I think there’s no harm in Ruby paying Tessa back slowly. I wouldn’t lose a good nanny for $50.”

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