Nosy Neighbor Calls Police When Nanny Does Something We've ALL Done

neighbor calls police on nanny

If you came home from work one day and learned that another mother in your neighborhood had called the cops on your nanny, how would you react? Yeah, I’d be freaking out too. I’d be wondering what exactly had happened that had warranted such a strong reaction, and I’m not sure my immediate thought would be to assume there was no wrongdoing. But if I trusted my nanny and I learned that the call had happened for no good reason, I think the next wave of emotion that would hit me would be anger.

That’s exactly what happened to Jenna Cooper, a Brooklyn mom whose nanny was reported to the police last August by a VERY nosy neighbor.

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Cooper says this is how her nanny Nicki explained the situation to her: Nicki had been at the park with Cooper’s daughter Anna, who often naps in her stroller. On this day Anna was fussing loudly before she fell asleep, which wasn’t abnormal behavior:

My daughter has a strong set of lungs, and she sometimes cries when she’s put down to nap, as I imagine many kids do. Since we did sleep training with her when she was very young, we’re fine with that — as Nicki knows.

Both my kids had a tendency to blat angrily from their stroller moments before they fell asleep, so I can imagine this scenario perfectly. This, in fact, is the exact reason I was often reluctant to go on outings close to nap time, because I knew the crying might precede their slumber. I never in a million years thought someone might call the COPS on me, though, which is what a local mother did to Nicki.

After Nicki explained to the mom that she wasn’t interfering with the crying child because it was part of the routine, the mom accused her of neglect — and dialed the police.

Anna did in fact fall asleep. And when the cops showed up, they laughed that they were called in. (…) I couldn’t believe someone would call the cops because a baby was crying for a few minutes. That’s what babies do!

Oh my god. NIGHTMARE FUEL. I think I would have a heart attack if someone told me I was being a bad mom and called the authorities on me for making a parenting choice that was perfectly safe and totally MY BUSINESS.

Maybe this lady wasn’t happy with the nanny’s explanation and thought the mom really needed to know, but … well, I can’t really excuse it. I just can’t figure why she decided to take that step. At the very least, she could have asked for the mom’s phone number and called HER, just to be certain she was okay with everything. But even then it should have been obvious the child wasn’t in danger and she was behaving like a meddling WEIRDO.

I hate this culture of smothering fear we all seem to live in, where tattling becomes a better choice than believing in each other’s personal, diverse parenting approaches. Sure, if a kid is playing unsupervised near a pool or gnawing on a lighter, it’s time to intervene and in that case we’d all be happy for the “village” mentality that helps build a health community — but not in a case like this. Not when it should have been obvious the child wasn’t being abused.

Cooper ended up sending a message about the incident to her neighborhood listserv:

As I told our nanny, if she had let my daughter crawl/play around unsupervised, I would obviously have a serious problem and would appreciate someone looking out for my daughter’s safety. But the fact that she let her cry before a nap is totally par for the course and in my mind does not constitute anything close to neglect. (If you think it does, you should call the cops on me, too.) We happen to love and trust our nanny, as does my daughter, who cheers and squeals with joy when she walks in our house in the morning. While I appreciate that parents in the neighborhood are keeping a watchful eye while some of us are working, let’s remember that getting the police involved is a serious decision and one that should be reserved for obvious cases of neglect/abuse, not merely situations that exemplify child-rearing styles different than one’s own.

For her efforts, most rallied in agreement — and one dad praised her for speaking up:

In a world of internet intemperance and incendiary outbursts, you have written a response to provocation that is a model of sanity and reason.

Hear hear. Good for Jenna Cooper, and shame on the busybody who forced her to defend a perfectly normal parenting situation.

What do you think about this — was the neighbor justified in calling the cops?

Image via Flickr/chasblackman

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