When my son Brandon was five years old, he had a buddy that lived half a block down from us. One morning, he set off to play at his friend’s house, and came home about 30 minutes later. When I asked him why he was home so early (I had hoped for a longer break than that!), Brandon said “William (not real name) asked me if I wanted to see his dad’s gun. I didn’t want to and so I just came home.”
After praising Brandon for making a safe and wise decision, (and after catching my breath and calming down my heartbeat), I told him that he was no longer allowed to play at William’s house. That William was welcome to come to our home, but that I was no longer comfortable with Brandon playing there. I had no idea where William’s father stored his gun; I had no idea if the gun was locked away or in an accessible location. All I knew was that if William was offering to show the gun, my kid was not going to be in that house. I also understood that I had no idea if any of Brandon’s other friends had guns in their homes. But certainly, no other child had ever told Brandon about one.
This incident happened twenty-five years ago. I had taught my son that he was not to play with guns; that they are dangerous and not a toy. But I never thought about asking parents if there was a gun in their home before I sent my child there for a playdate. I didn’t do it then and I’ve never suggested it since.
But here is an article that got me thinking this morning.
When I speak to parents of tweens and teens now, I suggest that, when their child is invited to a freind’s house, they first call the parents to verify if an adult will be present, if your child indeed has permission to be at their home, and if alcohol will be served to minors. Maybe I need to expand this list to calling parents of toddlers and asking about guns.
Do you do this? Would you do this?
It might be uncomfortable; it might anger another parent.
But it just might save a life.
What do you think?