One of the scariest moments for every parent is the first time they leave their child alone with a babysitter. You’re basically letting your child stay alone with a person you barely know. This is a very scary situation, and for good reason. Not all babysitters know what they’re doing and you can’t just trust anyone to keep your child safe at night.
Claudia Sorhaindo went through one of the most stressful experiences of her life when she received a mysterious photo from her babysitter while she was at her home watching her baby. A picture that would take her on a ride she would never forget.
Moment of Chaos
Sometimes our lives can change drastically in a single moment. It might be a sudden phone call, or even an event that completely changes the course of our day. Such a moment happened to Claudia Sorhaindo with her daughter Ava.
One day Claudia received a phone call that would force her to leave Ava without her. Claudia’s boss told her that she would have to attend a business meeting out of town, and that it was important for her career. Based on his tone, she knew that her job would be at stake if she didn’t show up, but she couldn’t take Ava with her. The stressed mother knew she had to come up with a solution, fast.
An Uncomfortable Situation
Claudia knew that she had already used up all of her sick days and couldn’t escape from this weighing responsibility. She had to attend the meeting. As a single mother who also had to provide for her family, she knew that losing her job wasn’t an option. This was one of those uncomfortable moments in life where no decision shows any sign of a positive outcome.
Ava was still a little child, and couldn’t be left alone, which meant that the young mother’s responsibility was to find someone who would be able and willing to babysit her, despite the short notice. This would prove to be a much more challenging task than she thought, as well as a potentially dangerous one.
Finding a Babysitter
Claudia picked up her phone and rushed through her contacts list in the hopes of finding a name that she would be comfortable calling. The more she scrolled, the more hopeless she became, and the more hopeless she became, the more she began to lower her expectations of ever finding a babysitter.
Suddenly, her sister’s name popped up on the screen and she decided to give it a shot. Her sister picked up quickly and Claudia explained the situation to her. Unfortunately, her sister wasn’t available, but she recommended her teenage daughter, J’Ann, for the job. This didn't seem like a problem, after all, she knew J’Ann, but still, she couldn't shake the bad feeling she had about this.
Claudia’s sister sounded somewhat offended at Claudia's silent reaction to her idea. Instead of asking Claudia why she had reacted this way, her sister immediately began pushing harder, dismissing Claudia’s fears that J’Ann might not be ready for a babysitting job.
On one hand, Claudia didn’t want to disappoint her sister, but on the other hand, something inside her was saying that she should be careful. She had a bad feeling about this, one that she couldn’t properly articulate or explain. This was a very tough decision, and she had to make up her mind –fast! That important decision would end up changing her life forever.
Claudia reluctantly agreed to let J’Ann, her fifteen year old niece, babysit her sweet little angel, Ava. It was normal for the young mother to feel uneasy about leaving her daughter without her for so long, but there was something else.
Claudia had another feeling in her stomach, one she wasn’t used to feeling. It was a sinking feeling, like the one you get when you agree to something that you shouldn’t have, or when you lie and know that you should have told the truth. Despite how horrible she felt, she knew there was no other option. The arrangement had been made and it was too late to cancel. Besides, how bad could it be?
Time to Leave
The feelings of stress and anxiety didn’t leave Claudia the whole time she was waiting for J'Ann to arrive, and for many hours later. When at last J’Ann came over, the two exchanged pleasantries, but mostly focused on the various details regarding the caring of Ava.
Despite explaining to J'Ann exactly how to care for her baby, Claudia still felt extremely uncomfortable leaving her baby alone with this teenage girl, and the guilty sense of doing something wrong stayed with her as she was leaving. She was now on the way to the airport, but it would be almost half a day before she would get the terrifying message from J’Ann.
Waiting at the Airport
Claudia waited anxiously at the airport for her flight. When it finally came time to board the plane, the single mother's anxiety levels were through the roof. If something should go wrong while she was on the flight, not only would she not be able to help, but she wouldn’t even be able to know about it.
Claudia wondered to herself: was her job truly so important that she would dare to leave her child under the supervision of a teenager whom she doesn’t trust? Her stream of thought was interrupted by a final 'last call' warning. The worried mother got up, took her bags, and boarded the plane. This would be the longest flight of her entire life.
The Longest Flight
Claudia found her seat, sat down, and stared out of the window. A female flight attendant stood at the front of the plane and began motioning the required safety procedures in case of emergency. Claudia tried to pay attention, but her mind wandered endlessly through the terrible things that might happen to her beautiful little daughter.
The plane eventually took off. This was the longest flight of Claudia's life, she couldn’t sleep for a single moment, and couldn't concentrate on anything. Claudia would soon feel the relief of landing and being able to check her phone for notifications, but this relief would be very short, as she was about to find out what was waiting for her in her messages.
A Disturbing Thumbnail
When she finally landed, Claudia was so relieved to finally be able to use her phone again. As she turned it on, her phone bleeped with notifications, but she only cared about one person's updates — she had to find out what was going on with her niece J’Ann and baby Ava.
Claudia scrolled through her notifications, and quickly found a few unread messages from J’Ann. One message excerpt said “I left Ava alone for a moment…” before being cut off by the notification panel. There was also a thumbnail among the messages. The worried mother quickly pressed on the notification and waited anxiously for the full message to appear.
J’Ann had sent several messages during her flight, but the first message read “Hi Claud! I’m with Ava and everything is OK.” Claudia relaxed a little, but quickly read on. Half an hour later, another message read: “I’ve just fed Ava and changed her diaper! So far so good…” Claudia was beginning to feel the tension in her body decreasing, and a small smile beginning to form on her lips.
J'Ann's third message was written about an hour after the first two, but it didn’t raise a smile on Claudia’s face, nor did it help her relax. In fact, this message terrified her to the point of turning her blood cold. How could she be so irresponsible? She wasn’t sure whether she blamed J’Ann or herself. All she knew was that things were very wrong.
“Hi Claudia, I’m getting hungry. Going to the kitchen to look for some food, hope you don’t mind. Do you have anything with peanut butter? Thanks.” Claudia’s motherly instincts were screaming at her. How could she leave a baby alone in the other room? Didn’t she know how irresponsible that was? New babies should never be left alone. Not even for a second!
The distressed mother waited anxiously for the final message to load, it was a picture whose thumbnail she couldn’t quite make sense of. It was clearly a picture of her daughter, Ava, but even in the low resolution picture Claudia could see that there was something off about her daughter’s body. Something deformed and unnatural about it.
Something about Ava’s legs looked very wrong, they were much larger than usual, almost bloated. Did something happen to her? Did she get hit by something? Bit by an animal? Visions began to rush into Claudia’s head as she visualized every dangerous scenario that could have caused Ava’s legs to look like this. The picture was still loading, and the seconds felt like forever.
Finally, the image finished loading. Claudia could now see what was going on in the picture and take a good look at what happened to Ava. She squinted her eyes and tried discerning what was happening. Finally, she realized what exactly it was that she saw in the image. She could finally smile again as she took a deep breath of relief.
A Makeshift Pouch
It seems that J’Ann was a lot smarter and more responsible than Claudia had thought. The babysitter wanted to go to the kitchen but knew just how protective Ava’s mother was. Instead of leaving her alone, she took the little baby with her, although she chose to do it in a rather unconventional way.
She decided to try something quite original and creative. J’ann was wearing a pair of baggy shorts. She took little Ava, and put her right inside the pants, with her hands hanging out from above the waist, and her feet protruding through the legs of her pants. This made J’Ann and Ava look like a kangaroo and her baby, so she just had to take a picture and show it to her mother!
Claudia’s Rush to Judgment
When Claudia saw the picture, it was very hard for her to understand what she was seeing. There was no mention of what was going on in the photo, so she was left to figure it out on her own. Most people would have understood what had happened in the picture, but because Claudia was so stressed, her ability to perceive was severely impaired.
Claudia felt so relieved that she could just go to sleep right there and then, as she finally realized that her child’s babysitter wasn't as dangerous or irresponsible as she had first thought. On the contrary, J’Ann was not only mature, creative and responsible, but also had a wicked sense of humor.
With J’Ann’s brilliant solution, she was quickly able to make herself a sandwich while having complete control and attention over beautiful baby, Ava. She could take her time to make a delicious peanut butter sandwich, before returning to the living room and unloading Ava from her makeshift baggy pants pouch.
Claudia was so enamored by her niece's brilliant and creative solution that she felt she needed to acknowledge it somehow. She was very proud of her niece and happy to learn firsthand that she’s a lot more talented than she had given her credit for. Claudia, now completely relieved, checked the rest of her notifications and found herself on social media. This gave her an interesting idea…
Social Media Post
Claudia took the photo and uploaded it to social media; she captioned the photo: “So I asked my niece to babysit Baby Ava. A few minutes later I received a text saying that she wanted to make a sandwich but didn't want to let baby Ava out of her sight! This was her solution, like really, creativity at its finest”.
We use social media for many things, but one of the most fulfilling things you can do with it is use it to share great ideas and funny things that make other peoples’ day a little better. This was one of those times, and Claudia was very proud to be able to do just that.
It Became a Huge Hit
To Claudia’s surprise, it wasn’t just a few odd people that liked and shared the picture. She began getting likes and comments on a minute by minute basis, and the attention seemed to only keep coming.
Both Claudia and J’Ann were closely following the post. Once a chain is started, it’s almost impossible to stop a viral post from spreading.
The Post Was Covered by the Media
The post became a much bigger hit than the mother ever anticipated. It reached more than 300,000 likes and shares and only kept growing. People were commenting and liking in mass, with the post even appearing on various blogs and media outlets, such as Moms.com, Today.com, ABC News and the Observer.
These outlets were hailing J’Ann’s idea as the next incredible startup for mothers. Some of the headlines include: “Teen Babysitter Comes Up With Hilariously Creative Way to Keep an Eye on Infant” and “This Babysitter's DIY Baby Carrier Is A Hilarious Show Of Creativity”. Ideas of making this into a patent started appearing on the web, and Claudia was certainly getting curious.
Turning the Idea Into a Patent
Claudia created a GoFundMe campaign for her niece J’Ann, to try and motivate her into turning this idea into an actual product and patent. She aimed to raise $10,000 with the campaign, and called the idea “J’Pants”. The headline for the GoFundMe read: “J'Ann Funds 4 creating the J'pants”.
Unfortunately for the young mother, the campaign was a huge failure, mostly because it came out too late after most of the attention to the viral photo had already died down. She also didn’t link it properly to the original post, making it practically inaccessible to anyone who didn’t already know about it. The campaign ended up raising $215. A very modest amount, but certainly not nothing.
Other People Wished They Had Thought of It First
The photo received an incredibly large range of comments. One mother wished she had come up with the idea back in the ‘70s: “Brilliant! Carried my babies around on my hip in the ’70s. I wish I had thought of this!” Other excited replies tried to get the mother to monetize her niece's idea: “you could make maternity pants that turn into this after! Get a patent on that! I see money.”
Unfortunately, Claudia's campaign didn't see as much money as the excited commenters did. There was also an issue of regulation, where baby products, especially those related to either food or carrying, go through a very strict vetting process before they are allowed to be released for sale to the general public, out of concern for the safety of the babies.
Many people commented on the social media post and praised the young girl for her brilliant idea. It’s not everyday that a fifteen year old teenager gets thousands of comments from people who mostly want to build her up and tell her how incredible she is. This undoubtedly helped J'Ann improve her self-esteem and confidence, and made her into a babysitting celebrity in her medium sized town of Lakeland, Florida.
A lot of comments were also made by people who tagged their partners and told them that they would probably do the same thing.
Despite its apparent lack of success, Claudia kept pushing her GoFundMe campaign. This is what she wrote in the description: “My niece J’Ann is so excited to design a working model. Let’s encourage her to use her creativity to design something wonderful that will help caregivers everywhere!”
Even though the campaign didn't reach its goal, it still serves as proof that you can use your creative ideas to make money. Hopefully this will motivate young teenagers everywhere to try and use their imagination and talents to produce other fun ideas. Up next, you’ll see how this grandmother’s surprising actions while babysitting her grandchild changed the lives of her entire family.
An Erratic Grandma
Trish’s mother was excited to see her daughter, as the two don’t often have a chance to spend more than an hour together in the morning. Her mother goes to work and only comes back later during the day. Meanwhile, her grandmother usually picks her up from school, and watches over her until her mom comes back.
Today, Trish’s mom was coming home from work early, and this was her first chance in weeks to see her daughter and spend a few quality hours with her. Unfortunately, Trish’s grandmother did something that day that would make her daughter mad with rage, and it would be hard for any of them to forget it.
An Offensive Letter
When Trish greeted her mother after an afternoon with her grandma, she was excited as always, and made sure to hug her mom as tight as she could. Today, she was holding something in her hand, so her mother asked her what it was. Trish placed a closed envelope in her mother's hand and her mom took it curiously.
It might be a drawing or some sort of love letter from Trish, her mother thought. She opened the envelope carefully so as not to tear it while doing so, and looked inside. What she saw there made her red with anger, and changed the course of their whole day. She was fuming with anger, and poor Trish knew it.
Not the Best Babysitter
Parents have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. They have to take care of their children, do their best to maintain a steady job, and all this while trying to keep their lives together.
There are, however, people that can greatly help by offering their assistance to take care of the child, with the first choice usually being the grandparents. The problem with the grandparents is that they usually have jobs of their own, and are quite busy celebrating the fact that their own kids are all grown-up!
Not the Best Relationship
Trish's mom, Sophie, had never had the best relationship with her mother. Her dream was always to find a way to escape the clutches of her gripping mother and she finally had a chance to do that when she went to college. This caused a big divide in the family, as her two siblings followed in her footsteps and eventually all left home.
Despite Sophie’s bad relationship with her mother, she didn't want to prevent her daughter Trish from having a relationship with her grandmother, so she made sure that the two met once in a while. Unfortunately for Sophie, her daughter’s visit to her grandmother resulted in a very bad day, and a post to ‘Ask Amy’ named ‘Burned By Grandma’.
What Could She Have Done Wrong?
On the surface, Trish's grandma looks like the most innocent and loving grandma in the world. She’s sweet, likes to hug a lot, and takes a great deal of effort to give her granddaughter the best time possible. She had arranged to take Trish to the Field Museum of Natural History, the Art Institute of Chicago, and to stop for lunch and dinner in between.
Grandma is meticulous, as Sophie will begrudgingly admit, almost to a fault. She is a perfectionist and makes sure to create foolproof plans, so she usually has at least two backups for anything that might go wrong along the way. It was not the trip, however, that made Trish’s mother Sophie so angry, it was something else entirely.
The Worst of the Worst
Besides her obvious devotion to her granddaughter, Sophie considered her mother cold, petty, and judgmental, as she would criticize her and seemed dissatisfied all the time. Despite all of her vices, nothing quite compared to what Sophie discovered in her daughter’s envelope that day.
The letter Sophie found there caused her so much anguish and pain that she decided to write to 'Ask Amy', an advice column by an American newspaper columnist named Amy Dickinson, who gives advice to people in her letters. The message that Sophie wrote that day would end up becoming a viral sensation, although she never intended it to.
The Question That Became a Viral Sensation
When Sophie turned to the 'Ask Amy' column in search of answers, she was truly baffled and didn’t know what to do with her mother. The young mother was shocked when first reading the letter, and was truly furious. She didn’t really know who to talk to about it, as it was a very confusing situation.
In her letter to Amy, she wrote: “Dear Amy; My mother lives in a beautiful lake house that has been in our family for 50 years, and for the second summer in a row, she asked my (now 14-year-old) daughter to stay over.” Most parents would actually welcome the opportunity for some freedom and quiet from their children, but this is not what Sophie was mad about.
A Great Time Together
When Trish's grandma took her to the city, the two had a wonderful time together. Trish's grandma not only took her everywhere, but she kept a detailed list of the locations the two were to visit, including a museum, which cost a fee to enter, and other fun events.
Such a big day full of traveling and commuting obviously cost a fair amount of money. Luckily for the grandmother, she was a very meticulous and financially conservative person, so she made sure to track every single expense during their day out. The importance of this will be made clear soon, and unfortunately for Sophie, Trish’s mother, she would be completely caught off guard.
Creating a Conflict
Sophie had let her mother enjoy the day with her daughter because she believed that the grandmother had good intentions and was interested in spending some time with her grandchild. But now, it wasn’t clear to Sophie anymore if her mother was trying to teach her some sort of a lesson. What she knew for sure is that she was absolutely furious.
When she opened the letter that her daughter Trish gave her, and saw the ludicrous demand her mother placed on her, she flipped out and lost it. Most grandparents are interested in taking a big part in their grandchild’s life, but it seemed like Sophie’s grandmother was doing everything she could to make Sophie never want Trish to meet her again.
List of Expenses and a Demand
Inside the envelope was an itemized bill that included all the different expenses that were paid that day by her mother while she was out with her daughter. The commute, the museum fairs and even the food was all there. What made Sophie even more mad was that she had already sent her mother $300 to cover her expenses during the visit.
The rest of Sophie’s plea to the 'Ask Amy' column reads as follows: “I sent a check to my mother to cover my daughter’s expenses during her visit. Upon her return, my mother sent me an invoice for $475.50 for additional expenses, including the cost of gas to transport her to and from the airport…”. We can understand why Sophie was so mad…who wouldn't be?
If that wasn't bad enough, Sophie’s mother had lived at Sophie’s expense for four months without being asked to pay a single penny, so Sophie felt she was being highly unreasonable. In Sophie's opinion, that's what family was for.
She continued her letter to Amy: “This past winter my mother came to live with us for four months and we paid for everything, including a nice vacation to an island over Christmas. She is just being petty and doesn’t respect boundaries — like a $300 budget. How should I proceed in the very uncomfortable situation? I want my daughter to have a relationship with her grandmother… but not at the expense of my sanity!"
It Gets Even Worse
Sophie worked harder to try to understand her mother and to be the most supportive daughter she could be, but she was shocked at the blatant disrespect that her mother was displaying towards her. “How do I address her behavior?", she asked Amy.
Sophie further explained: "I am hurt and angry by her decision to charge me for gas to pick up her granddaughter from the airport, as well as the other expenses.” She exclaimed. “My mother is a single woman, and we have never asked her to pay for anything. We even write her a check for groceries when she hosts Thanksgiving dinner.” Poor Sophie didn’t have any idea what to do in her situation.
It Might Be Time to Let Go
Sophie’s feelings of betrayal had reached a breaking point. She was clearly doing everything she could to maintain a civil relationship with her mother, but when is enough just enough? It had gotten to the point that their relationship was seriously hurting her self-esteem, as well as her bank account.
Sophie finished the letter by saying: “Now I feel she has taken advantage of my generosity, and I don’t trust her to spend time with my daughter because it is just too costly for me (financially and emotionally).” She signed the letter anonymously and sent it to “Ask Amy”. Sophie would soon have to make a huge decision that would shape the rest of her and Trish’s life.
Sophie eagerly awaited a reply from Amy. Thoughts of doubt kept running through her mind and she even considered just paying her mother to be done with it. She couldn't help but wonder why in the world her mother, a financially responsible woman, would choose to take this lavish trip with Trish when she could have just stayed at home and not have had to pay for anything?
$300 was more than enough for the young girl, in Sophie's opinion. Her mother must have known that the trip she took with Trish would cost more than that, but for some reason she chose not to disclose it to Sophie, an idea which she would have promptly tossed aside after hearing how costly it would be
Amy’s Words of Advice
A few days later, Amy finally replied to the questions posted by the disgruntled and distraught Sophie. "You need to state your truth honestly" she began. "It’s crucial to share exactly what you feel with the other person, because until you do, nothing can be solved".
Amy’s advice went as follows: “Your daughter’s trip to see Grammy has cost you (I’m estimating) around $1,000, with plane tickets, plus the invoiced expenses incurred while she was there.” It was clear that the experienced columnist was trying to set up a balanced and fair view of things to make sure she had all the data she needed before intervening.
Looking at the Other Side
Amy raised a very important set of questions to try to understand where the grandmother was coming from. We tend to believe we are in the right even before we can see the others' point of view and motives. That's why it was important for Amy to point out all the facts.
“Is your mother financially insecure? Is she worried about maintaining her own lifestyle in retirement? These are legitimate concerns,” Amy also raised the question of whether or not Sophie’s mother was trying to make an important point with her itemized bill. She gave a few reasons why this behavior might have occurred.
Asking the Tough Questions
Next, Amy provided Sophie with a list of important questions that she could ask her mother when confronting her, to help establish the motives behind her mother's behavior. This strategy involves asking the right questions, and then making an informed decision about the future of the relationship.
Sophie finally had a strategy. But was there a legitimate reason her mother couldn’t stay within the reasonable $300 budget? Was this itemized bill her mother's way of telling Sophie that she doesn’t want to host Trish at her house anymore? These are just a few questions Amy mentioned for Sophie to think about before planning any future visits.
A Silent Protest
Perhaps Amy’s speculation was right, and Trish’s grandma just didn’t want her to come over anymore? The only way to know for sure was asking her in the most honest and straightforward way possible. This was a crucial step in her relationship with her mother, because if this didn't get solved, there wasn't going to be a relationship anymore.
It’s clear that the grandma’s behavior was strange, but there were way too many questions to make an informed decision before the two had a proper face to face chat, and put all the cards on the table.
Opinions Are Divided
The internet was flooded with responses from people who read Sophie's letter and the reply the columnist gave her. The responses were split into two main groups. One group recommended that the mother simply ditch her child’s grandma and let her live a miserable life without them. It’s an understandable position, but perhaps a better solution exists.
On the other hand, there were those who recommended a kinder approach. Their advice was to try and talk to Trish’s grandmother to get her perspective on the event, and understand what motivated her to do such a thing. She might even see that the whole thing was a misunderstanding.
The Huffington Post’s Online Survey
'The Huffington Post' recently ran a survey to its readers asking them if they believe that people should pay their children’s grandparents for babysitting their kids. The reactions were extremely polarized. Some said “Yes. They deserve something extra for helping out." Another commenter added: “It doesn’t have to be huge, but it should be something…”
On the other hand, a comment which espoused the opposite opinion stated: “You are going to take money from your kids?” Another said “Not unless you really need the help financially, geez…” It was clearly a very polarized and ambivalent issue. If there’s any real lesson to take out of Sophie’s experience, it’s that grandparents and their children should do their best to communicate their needs, in order to prevent these kinds of events from ever occurring in the future.