I was going to write a post about not having resolutions, then I was going to write a post on finding resolve in something. Then I read an article in one of the local papers. It was written by someone I worked with at the paper before I had kids. We would bump into each other in the basement gym that was open to all employees but used by few. We didn’t talk a lot, but I knew he had kids and seemed kind. He always felt familiar to me, reminding me of some sort of combination of many people I knew from my Eugene days—more laid back than most, open-minded, but with very strong opinions, smart. His articles are rarely without controversy, but very, very often I agree with his perspective. I’ve written him letters before to privately thank him for raising an issue.
This article was no different. It really made me think, it also made me uncomfortable, afraid to speak and afraid not to. The article, if you haven’t already clicked the link, was about guns, specifically guns in homes that children might be able to access. He wrote it because a child did find it. Another child was with him and now one of those two children is dead. The comments on the article bring up plenty of waves of “How dare you!” I am not writing today about the right to bare arms or about whether the author is liberal, out of line or off base.
I am writing because I have to work this out sooner rather than later. I was ready to teach our girls about the danger of guns, just like I’ve taught them that they are in control of their own bodies. Eating disorders are an enemy on my radar as are mean girls, apathy and trans fats. So seriously, from the monumental to the maybe mundane, I’ve been ready. I am not ready to think about guns in homes. I barely manage playdates for the requirement they carry of talking to strangers, that awkward exchange between people who have nothing in common but kids. I’ve finally accepted I don’t have to be friends with them, just need to facilitate play time, but guns? I have to ask parents if they have guns in their home? I should probably ask about pills too. The list is infinite.
I am not ready for this.
I have no choice. I cannot keep my three girls safe from everything, but I can be aware of the steps I can take to keep them a little bit safer. When I muster the courage to ask will parents be honest? I have no idea, but if they aren’t, will it at least get them to go and make sure that guns are locked up tight with no ammunition nearby? That pills are out of reach? Maybe. Am I still terrified? Yes.
I guess that’s what it’s all about though. We need to keep a measure of fear and we always need to be thinking, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us.
I am so totally in the same boat. I thought of making a waiver that parents will have to sign to before I leave my kids at their house. I am so not ready for any of this and it scares me to the core. In the end I guess as John says, “it’s all about smart choices.”
None of this gets easier, does it?
I think if we all sincerely do our best, we’d all be better for it– and that you’ve got a massive lead in that category compared to many that I know. <3
I’m not a big fan of the play date at someone else’s house. Maybe it’s because I’m older and I’ve seen a lot, and seen how careless other people can be, I don’t know. I just don’t think my kid misses much by not going to playdates at other kids houses. He was invited to come play at a friend’s house over Christmas, I really like the friend and his parents…but they have two pit bulls. Sorry, I don’t do pit bulls and kids. That’s fine for their family and their kids, but not for mine. So we just kind of didn’t get around to the play date. He’s come here to play and I love that, but honestly…they see each other all the time at school.
We have guns in our house. Guns that are never loaded, up on a high shelf in our closet. They’ll never be loaded as long as we have a small child. I’d feel more secure with them loaded, but I also know firsthand how fast I can load one when needed. And I would find it strange for any parent NOT to ask me that before leaving their kids at my house, but nobody ever does. I’ve had parents drop their kids off without even really meeting me, which blows my mind. Lucky for them I’m not a child molester or living with one.
So you shouldn’t feel intrusive asking that question, Amanda. Or keeping your girls home, or having play dates at the park instead of someone’s house. Or just…skipping play dates altogether. We didn’t have them when I was growing up. I think I turned out reasonably sane and social. 🙂
Oh UGH. I’m not ready for this, either. I’m not ready to tell my daughter about people wanting to touch her in places or people passing off drugs in school. But you’re right. Strength is not in denying but in courageously teaching. Even if I’d rather just give them hot cocoa and a warm hug every day.
I’m trying to imagine my reaction if someone had ever asked me if I had a gun in my house before they let their child come over. I think stunned might cover it but I think I might also become acutely aware of how that parent must feel asking! I was just talking to someone the other day who has recently taken up target shooting. He bought a pair of those ear protectors for his young daughter – in pink. He also just bought trigger locks to put on the guns, even though he keeps them locked in a gun safe.
It’s fair to ask – to me it’s not an issue of the 2nd amendment or gun control. It’s all about responsibility. It’s just too bad that truly responsible people don’t have something obvious about them that tells you they are.
But also – it starts at home with what you teach your kids. Because you cannot protect them from things once they are out of your sight. It’s all part of it.
‘In the billions of destinies that do unfold, I have asked questions.’
I’m just ill. I’m not ready to think about these things.
I guess there’s no way around dealing.
When I get on an international flight alone with my two kids – I ask the person next to me ‘if the plane goes down can you please grab my son as you run off the plane?’ I’ll be honest, it freaks people out. But I saw a show about how to survive a plane crash, so I ask.
I ask the questions and I have the talks. We have to. My children amaze me. The question of secrets came up once with my daughter. I was about to go into a 30 minute monologue about what secrets are ok and what secrets aren’t when my daughter stopped me “oh I know all about that mom” (she’s 5) Me “what do you know” her “if a secret makes you feel unsafe or scared you have to tell your parents or an adult you trust, even if someone tells you they will be mad at your for telling” me “oh, that is good advice” her “ya, I learned it at preschool”
It scares me that we have to talk about it…but thank god we do.
Ok. I am a country girl born and raised. I have been around rifles and hand guns my whole life. Do I respect them. Yes. Were we taught as kids how to handle them properly. Yes. I have gone hunting I have seen what bullets can do and I was an EMT for 10 years. My husband purchsed a handgun last year. We taught our children respect for it and 2 of my kids shot it with hubby’s help. You can NEVER childproof a gun but you CAN gunproof a child by simply showing them what would happen. We took a cantlope out and shot it. And told them that’s what happens when you play with guns. Now even with the nerf guns the only point them down at the ground or to the sky. But never at one another. I feel safe that my children would know what to do if one of their friend got a gun out by telling his/her parents or god forbid they are not home to tell the other child to point to the gun towards the ground. I must stop writing this now because I have a sick child at school that needs to be picked up. Any questions or comments my email is [email protected]
Ugh, I know, I hate stuff like this, too. I’ve already had one little argument with my sister because her husband keeps one under their bed. We’re in Texas, yes, but now she has a son and I have two. It’s a conversation I dread, but it’s one I’ll have to keep my boys safe.
we were in a baby group with our eldest – she was two at the time. we met every two weeks – thru a group in eugene called birth to three. on our 6th meeting was the “icky stuff” meeting and we talked about body image stuff, drugs and alcohol, sexual predators and guns… it was so strange but guns was the one that my wife and i had the most trouble with… how to talk/ask kids and other parents… she grew up with guns, hunting family etc i did not but shot them at camp and stuff – neither of us is against them, but we parent with intent and want to be safe.
we just moved to a community that is very hunting oriewnted, the chances of a playmate, hell even a family member being part of a gun family increased probably by two thirds – we have to get up the nerve to ask this question too, why is it so hard?