Saturday, October 26, 2019

Sleepovers: The One Question You May Not Have Thought to Ask

Note: I wrote this in 2017 but there was a mass shooting the day I was going to publish, so I curbed it. It's been in my drafts since then. Today I went to empty my drafts and saw it... it's still an issue I think of 2 years later. It's probably one I'll always think of, until my son is grown.

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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.

16 comments:

  1. That wouldn't have been something I would have instantly thought of up here, but sadly, there are a lot out there as I see them out and about. Yeah, one that goes into the woods for months, major red flag. I mean who would throw a gun on the table with kids around? Stupid. Two up here when I was in high school played with one and they didn't think it was loaded, turns out it was and the on girl lost half her face. And they were near high school age. So yeah, one question always to ask indeed. My second would be do their parents smoke dope. As since it is legal up here, people flaunt it like crazy. Doesn't matter who they have in the house. You go to some places and even the poor cats look high.

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    1. It's not legal here, thank goodness. I guess the best thing is to just really, really know the parents before you let the kids sleep over, or have the kids come to your place if you don't. Better safe than sorry. I'm sorry to hear about the girl you went to high school with... that's awful.

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    2. If you have them come to your place first you can be sneaky too. Just do little things that are the opposite of what you don't want. Like the gun on the table, stick a toy gun there at some time. Then mention something like, "I shouldn't even keep toy guns around." And if they say their parents keep real ones around, poof, you know.

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  2. that's very interesting. i am pro-gun but i can't believe a dad would just leave a gun on the table in front of a strange kid who's on a sleepover.

    Joy at The Joyous Living

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    1. Agreed. Bringing a weapon out with a child you don't know in the house seems so foreign to me. So many caution alarms would go off for me, if I were in either position (the dad or the child spending the night). Hearing about it left me unsettled, but it did teach me a lesson too. Just because we were on friendly terms for months before the sleepover (neighborly chit chat, kids playing together, etc.) did not mean I knew them enough to allow my son to spend the night there.

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  3. I've had a few kids spend the night here. It was odd because they came with very little. Like no toothbrush. One kid that we carpool with, for Isaak to go to school really NEEDS teeth care. When I asked when he's getting braces (she told me he needs them) she said, "Ya he needs them, but I just don't have the energy to clean them." I'm thinking, "What!?" Basic needs isn't for them apparently. Isaak hasn't spent the night at that kid's house, but he also hasn't been asked. Isaak doesn't super duper relate to the kid anymore. They weren't in the same class for a few years, and now in middle school don't have any of the same classes. As for the other kid that spent the night at our house...I don't know he relates to the carpool kid really well. Those two hang out, an have left Isaak out.

    The new kid from Isaak's middle school - he hung out at his house ALL day yesterday. They had a blast. I'm hoping their friendship stays a thing. They actually played. Acted, recorded, hide and seek, games and more.

    Mostly our kids enjoy their cousins the same ages as they are. We have had them spend the night. And visa versa. Now that works out well! We for certain know them.

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  4. I'd be nervous about the gun thing too!!! I know a student, who had a best friend that got shot and killed. Her Dad's gun he thought wasn't loaded. He shot his own daughter! How messed up! Stuff like that happens!

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  5. I'm glad I don't have to worry about this kind of stuff any more. When our kids were growing up, their friends always wanted to spend the night(s) at our house, so that made it a little easier.

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  6. It sounds extremely irresponsible of the father, especially if his son has a friend over. You can never know when kids think it's like a harmless toy to play with only for a severe accident to occur. I completely understand how you feel.

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  7. We usually have a waiver for sleepovers. It protects the kids for any harm. Also, we usually just allow family friends.

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  8. It's so sad this is something you need to consider. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I agree, it's so sad that we even have to consider this, although I am pro-gun. I believe it's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

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  9. That wasn't a problem in our kids' days. But now? I am pro-gun, but I would like to know what will be there.

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  10. That certainly would be unsettling to say the least.

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  11. That's a bit scary but good to keep in mind in some parts of the US.

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  12. It's usually my house that all the kids end up at, and out of all that have been here, I've only had one ask if we had guns in the home and if they were properly stored. I admit, I don't ask when my girls visit other homes, even though they rarely do go to their friend's houses. Even with all of the shootings, I guess it's just not something that's at the top of my mind when they leave the house. I've always been more worried about them getting raped or exposed to drugs than I have guns. I suppose that's because I've always trusted them to immediately text me if they saw things like guns or drugs so I could come retrieve them from the situation. You're right though. It's a scary, changed world than we grew up in and I should be more vigilant in checking these things out beforehand.

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