As I sit here writing this, my 5-year-old son is having a play date at a friend's house, a new friend that I've only just gotten to know. With kindergarten well under way, Lukas is making more new friends from class that he wants to play with outside of school. While I'm all for this surge of social interaction and maturity from my sometimes lonely, dare I say, boring boy, having to open myself up to making new mommy friends, setting up after school playdates and sending my son off on his own to play at other people's homes without me, can be a bit overwhelming. No, I'm not some anti-social mom, I just have trust issues. And when it comes to these other parents having guns in their home, I get even more nervous.
I'm not passing judgement or even expressing what my beliefs on gun control is. I will simply say that I'm terrified of children around guns. And it doesn't matter if you are completely one way or the other when it comes to American's rights to bear arms, my issue all the way is the safety of my children. Everyday, when I kiss my children and send them out the door, I worry. I think, have I taught them enough to keep them safe? When they enter someone else's home, someone new that I'm not 100% familiar with, and play with a child I've yet to get to know, I risk accidents happening. How do I know if there are guns in the home and how do I ask in a way that is not offensive? How do I know that, even if the parents did a stellar job teaching their child about gun safety, their child isn't going to show my child their gun anyway?
I didn't worry too much about this with my daughter because I knew she would run if she saw a gun, that's just her. But boys will be boys... they like guns. Even if you tell your boy that guns are not toys, they turn other toys into guns and play. Imagine if they got their hands on a real gun and there was no fear? I have taught Lukas what to do if he ever was put in a situation like that but he's 5 years old... and a boy. You can only expect so much maturity from a small child when left on their own. I can only hope that I have said what I needed to say to him and he heard me.
Now, I have no idea if the family home where my son is playing has a gun in it, and that scares me. The only thing I know is that when I got back in my car to drive away from dropping my son off, I heard his sweet friend say he'd just got a new toy army gun and he couldn't wait to show my son. I trust that regardless of if there are guns in his home, my son's friend and his parents have also had talks about gun safety.
This is me trying to put my trust in someone I barely know.
I hate that we live in a world where, as parents, we have to have these sort of discussions with our young children. It's how we keep them safe. And with 24 hour news feeds about all the horrible things going on in our world (some gun related, some not), it only instills more fear and worry in me.
I'm always looking for how to deal with this issue/ topic with other parents when sending our child to play at others' homes. How do we ask (almost) strangers if they have guns in their home? After all, we are trusting them to watch our children while they play. And if they do have guns, are we allowed to ask where they keep them and if they are locked up? I know if another parent asked me I would gladly share that information and not be offended. But with such a sensitive topic, it's easy to offend. And on the flip side, do I just not let my son play at friend's houses until I've established a strong relationship with the parents, which could take some time?