Alternate Title: How to ask if there is a gun in the house.
We had a very exciting development in our world this week. We discovered that my son’s best friend from his 2nd grade class lives 2 houses down from us! Apparently their family moved in at some point this summer, but it wasn’t until the boys took the bus home together on Monday that our paths crossed. We don’t live on a street with many kids so this news is huge – if you saw the look on my son’s face, you would have thought Christmas had come early. Add to it that this boy is polite and well-behaved and the rest of the family seems just lovely and we’ve got ourselves a great addition to the neighborhood! The other day, the friend came over and the two boys sat at the kitchen table eating snack and doing their homework together – I died of cute. Today, homework will be done at the friend’s house and my son has been invited to stay for dinner. Then he gets to walk the whole 100 ft home BY HIMSELF. As you can imagine, it’s been all the talk.
Along with this wonderful development, comes some uncharted territory. You see, up until this point, we’ve never had an unsupervised playdate. If we have, it’s more akin to babysitting in which we’ve asked a close friend to have our kids over in a pinch – and these are people we’ve known for years and trust implicitly. Now that my son is older and making friends independently of us, the circle expands…and to be honest? That makes me nervous. Our new neighbors seem like good people and they are clearly doing a beautiful job raising their son, but we don’t really *know* them. Is there any kind of due diligence we should be completing here? Questions to ask?
And that line of thinking is what brought me to the big question. The question I know has been on many parents’ minds, especially in light of recent events. Should I ask if they have a gun in the house? This article suggests that as of 2007, 16.7% of CT residents are gun owners. A relatively low number, one which doesn’t specify how those guns are secured (I would assume many, if not most, are well-secured and safely stored especially in homes with children)…but it only takes one, right? Once we decided that, yes, we should ask, came the even harder question…how?? Asking such a personal, sensitive, often divisive, question left my wife and me with knots in our stomachs.
Thankfully, the question answered itself naturally through the course of conversation this time when the mother asked if it was okay that the boys play video games at her house. My wife answered, “Yes, as long as they are non-violent” and got a response of, “No problem, we feel the same way and don’t do weapons – virtually or otherwise.” ::whew::*
Uncomfortable conversation thwarted this time, but it certainly left me thinking about how to handle this situation when it comes up in the future. Of course, it’s a great reminder of the safety conversations I need to be having with my children to prepare them to face the many situations they may find themselves in as they gain more independence. But, for me to feel comfortable sending my kids off at this point, I’m going to need to broach the subject with the other parents as well. Trouble is, how do I do it without it being completely awkward and potentially offensive? Well, I’ve decided that perhaps the best way would be to tell, rather than ask.
Recognizing that the other parent might be wrestling with the same issue I am, the next time I’m setting up an unsupervised playdate, I think I’ll offer the information first. A little, “Not sure if this is something you would be wondering, but since it seems like such a hot topic lately, I just wanted to let you know that we don’t have any guns or weapons in our home. No guarantees about dirty dishes, though.” [When in doubt, fall back on humor and self-deprecation.] Then I’ll hope that offering the information about our home, and welcoming any other questions they may have, will open the line of communication and spur them to do the same.
Sound good? Toe the line between being that mom and that mom? Have you ever asked, or told?
Also, where is the freaking manual for this stuff??
*To be clear, we respect the right to gun ownership; our concern focuses on the safe storage of such.