When your child asks to have a sleepover at someone else's house, a million questions might come to mind. You wonder what they should pack (toothbrush, jammies, change of clothes, etc.), what time they will go to bed, what they will do, and even what the parents' practices are for gaming or internet/social media use (cause you can bet if Johnny can do it, your guy or gal is probably going to be doing it too). What I never thought to ask, and maybe it's just me, is 'are there guns in the house?'
My son spent the night at his best buddy's house. I know this boy's parents, and at the time, we were next door neighbors. It's a nice neighborhood, we've been in their home, they'd been in ours. I've taken their son to the park in my car. I like them. So when my boy asked for his first sleepover away from home, I wasn't ovelry concerned. I told my son if there were any problems at all, or if he got got homesick, to just come right home. It was literally a few steps away. Everything went fine, they had a great time, and then we moved, and so did they...we lost touch and sleepovers were no longer on the agenda.
Then, at a recent family event (weeks after the sleepover, mind you), my son mentioned something about that boy knowing how to shoot a gun. What?!?!?!? "Oh his dad is a hunter, and CHILD A goes hunting with his dad. His dad has lived in the woods for months at a time, he's a survivor." Double Red Flag Raising "what????"
I went into mom-mode and ran through the range of typical questions that mind come to mind. I asked him if there were any guns in sight (but even if they weren't in sight, it wouldn't have mattered because now I know they were there). He said, "just when the child's dad was watching TV." Evidently the dad took his gun out of his waistband and put it on the coffee table while he sat on the couch right in front of it.
Hold me up please, because by that time, I was ready to faint (not literally, but mentally). And then I asked him the question that was baffling me most, "Why didn't you come home (preferable response) or at the very least tell me something as serious as there were guns in the house where you were sleeping over?"
All kinds of things are were running through my mind, but mostly I was just instantly thankful. Thankful that my son and his friend didn't try to come out and 'see' any guns that might be in the house while everyone was sleeping. Thankful that it wasn't more than it was. Mostly just thankful that my son was with me and that he was safe.
Just for the record, I'm not anti-gun. My oldest son was in the military, he has guns in the house, and he has a daughter. He's also well schooled on how to use them (he professionally instructs), majorly safe...always, and he stores his weapons properly. I am anti-have-my-son-in-a-home-with-guns when I don't know a thing about how the people who live there handle such situations. Quite honestly, I'm glad we all moved in different directions, because that makes it easy, but if we still lived next door, I know I wouldn't be able to let my son spend the night at that particular friend's house again.
Maybe it's just because I'm older that I was surprised? I do not say that in jest. Sure there were problems back in my day, but it was truly another generation. We (and by 'we' I mean all of the kids in the neighborhood) left the house early and came home when it was starting to get dark, or when we heard our moms calling. No one knew exactly where we were, and they didn't have to worry. One thing I know for sure is that I never ever remember my mom having to ask if there were guns in the homes where I was spending the night. I never saw any guns in any of my friend's homes (not even at my friend's home whose father was a police officer). And it never occurred to me to check that information for any of my children until now. From this day forward, it will likely be the first question on my list. I'm not too overly protective, but I do believe in safe rather than sorry, and today guns are a big deal. Well, they've always been a big deal, but you know what I mean...schools have Code Red Drills, people get shot while shopping, going to the movies, attending a concert, etc. It's just different. And scary. And I don't know why it didn't occur to me that that spills over into the homes of people my son might visit. I won't forget that now though. Never ever never again.