He Enjoyed Teaching the Neighborhood Kids About Gardening, but When One Mother Used Him as Free Childcare He Banned All Children From Visiting

A 23-year-old man had recently completed his PhD in plant systematics and took great joy in applying his education to his garden. He even found himself teaching curious neighborhood children about plants, but this voluntary teaching role would soon get out of hand. 

A Youthful Neighborhood

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The man lived in a neighborhood that had several elementary schools nearby, and kids would often show curiosity about his yard on their way home from school. Due to the man’s PhD in plant systematics, his garden was impressive, which drew even more attention. 

A Pleasant Routine

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The man generally man enjoyed the children’s company when gardening. “They’re all great kids and they have tons of questions about plants, gardening, composting, all of that good stuff”, he explained. “It’s refreshing to have kids running around and screaming outside rather than sitting in front of screens.”

The Unpleasant Encounter

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However, one day, his voluntary teaching role achieved unsettling heights. “There was a knock on my door, and when I answered it, some lady started screaming about how ‘I left her kids alone to be kidnapped for an hour’”, he recounted. “At first, I was super confused.”

The Realization

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“After some more discussion, I learned that she lets her kids outside every day and tells them to ‘hang out with me’”, he continued. “Eventually I just apologized and closed the door.”

Unsettling Behavior

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After processing what just happened, the man was left unsettled. “I did not know I was supervising children”, he expressed. “What if a kid got hurt? I wouldn’t know what the hell to do. Second, I feel like this is neglect. This woman doesn’t know me anywhere near well enough to be leaving her kids alone with me outside.” 

A Decision to Confront

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After careful consideration, the man decided to address the issue directly. He approached the neighbor and firmly told her that he couldn’t act as a babysitter. 

Calling CPS 

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The man explained his actions to the woman: “I told her I was extremely uncomfortable by this situation and if she leaves her children outside without someone watching again, I will call CPS.”

A Strained Conversation

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The neighbor didn’t take the news well. “She went off saying she can’t afford childcare and I’m a jerk to not just watch her kids when she needs help”, he recounted in shock. “I have now gone to the rest of my neighbors and told them that I do not want any children in my yard and explained the situation.”

Mixed Reactions

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Despite the unfortunate statement, most of the man’s neighbors were understanding and supportive, as they already supervised their children. The man couldn’t help but think that the woman had ruined the learning experience for all the other kids – one kid was even holding back tears when he was asked to stop coming to the garden.

Conflicted Emotions

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The man was disappointed with the turn of events. It was sad that kids were now unable to enjoy his botany teachings, but he had never realized the seriousness of what he was doing. However, he also wondered whether his hard stance had been too far, and perhaps there was a better solution. 

Venting His Frustrations

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The man headed online to vent his frustrations, recounting his story and asking for the perspective of his online audience. Everyone felt sorry for the man. “If she needed you to watch her kids the responsible thing would have been TO ASK YOU”, one commenter wrote. “Way to ruin the fun for everyone else, lady!”

Blame the Mother 

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One person pointed out that the man should explain the situation, in case they felt he was being insensitive. “I work with kids as a volunteer and there are definitely parents who do not respect or understand boundaries”, they wrote. “I hope you made it very clear to your neighbors which family ruined it for everyone.”

A Step Too Far

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There wasn’t a single comment that criticized the man’s attitude, but some readers did think he had been too hasty with his decision. “That parent is living on another planet… not sure I would have gone as far as banning all the kids, but that’s your call”, one commenter wrote. 

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