Sunday, January 17, 2010

How Do You Even Ask This Question

Yesterday Sam was invited to go over to a friend's house to hang out for a couple of hours. I'm one of those moms who stress out at this type of thing, especially if I don't know the parents.

You know what I stress about the most? Guns in the home.

Ian and I do not own a gun. I know that if I had one, I would want to carry it around in my purse with me everywhere I went. You know, just in case. Apparently you aren't allowed to do that.

Think about it. It would be very handy for me to have in certain situations.

Hey! That parking spot was mine!

Excuse me Ms. Walmart cashier, I'm gonna need you to speed this line up a little bit.

Don't let your dog piddle on my grass! Mine doesn't piddle on yours!

Hey! Are you lookin' at me?

Recycling bags! Use recycling bags!! The bins just blow your garbage into my yard!

Shifty lookin' dude at 3:00...be alert, Kate...


I see why packing heat in your purse is illegal.

Anyway, I worry about my children going to a friend's home where they have a gun, the kid pulling it out to show my kid and BAM! It goes off and... well you can see where I'm going with this.

I read CNN.com. I know this thing happens a lot.

All the way over I'm grilling Sam. What do you do if he wants to play an R-rated video game? What if he puts on a movie you know I don't want you to watch? What if he says oh look at my dad's gun?

He knows all the right answers, and I trust him.

But still, the gun thing weighs on me. How do you ask if they own one without sounding awful? I would hate to not ask because I'm worried about how it would come across and then heaven forbid, something happened.

I was all worked up over how I was going to broach the subject that when we arrived I managed to drive up on to their lawn. Nice first impression, Kate.

The kid's mom came to the door to meet me and I asked her if we could talk on the porch for a moment. I said that I was one of those moms, and I needed to ask her something but I wasn't trying to offend her. I hemmed and hawed and finally just spit it out: Do you have a gun in your home?

I apologized profusely and implored her to not be offended, I just worry about my children's safety. Do you know what she said to me?

I am so glad you asked me this, Kate. More mothers should be able to ask this. I wish I had the guts to. No, we do not have a gun in our home.

(insert mammoth sigh of relief here)

I guess she didn't think I was too freaky because Sam called me to say they invited him to stay longer.

Do you ask your children's friends' parents this question? Is there any "polite" way to ask it without offending them? Is it even an offensive question to ask?

Help a sister out, peeps. I can't be the only mom who does this.

Can I??

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22 comments:

  1. You know what? I've never really thought about it. I'm not sure why. It's really a very valid, safe question. And I think you did a great job with it! Sometimes, as moms, we have to ask awkward questions. But remember - you're asking someone else's mom, who's probably pretty impressed that you had the cajones to ask it, and wished that they had. (Pssst- I'm now one of those moms!)

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  2. I am one of those moms, too. I have never asked about a gun, though. I usually just talk to the parents and make sure they will be there at all times. Especially when my girls teenagers!

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  3. I have never asked this question before but then again Caileigh is only 5 and most of the time I am visiting with the parents while she's playing or they are at our house.
    My husband hunts when he is able so we have a gun in the house. The shells are locked in the attic that is only accessable with a ladder in the garage. THe gun is dismantled and takes a lot of knowledge on how to put it together. I still don't really like the idea of it there but....I don't know how else to handle the situation. He grew up with them and I didn't. He was taught to respect them and the boys NEVER touched his dad's guns. When we have the money we are getting a safe that requires a code and a key to unlock it. For now our things are as safe as I can think to put them and our daughter is only 5 and our son is 1.
    I would ask though too and make sure there is a lock on the guns if they are there and that the kids would not be left unattended. I would probably invite the child over to our house in the future or stay and chat with the mom while the kids play.

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  4. Well, you've definitely planted a seed. My son is young enough that he and his friends don't even know what a gun is yet, but this is a very valid question and I believe as moms we deserve the right the have the answer to it. Its incredible the things we have to think about these days, huh? I'm glad she she took it in stride and was comforting in her response. I am not sure how/if I'll ever ask the question. It really is a good one, though.

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  5. I think I died a little and went to heaven. Kate, we are struggling with that very issue right now. I. Hate. Guns. I'm one of THOSE moms and I will ask that question... trouble is, we're moving to Tennessee. If you don't know what that means because (wink) you buy your milk in bags (wink!!!) it's basically one of the most gun-loving states in the US. Uh oh. But I despise the response to my gun-hatred, "You should teach your child gun-safety." Well, hello, yes! I'll teach all the safety I want. And so should you. And so should everyone. But I also teach MATCH safety for heaven's sakes and I don't see you leaving MATCHES laying all over the place in your home. Or KNIFE safety, but I don't see your butcher knife sitting in the drawer with your teaspoons. "Well, no, Melissa, those things are dangerous and we don't want to let kids play with them." BWAAAAAAAAAHAT? So those things are MORE dangerous than the gun on your night-stand?! Nope, don't buy it. And your 4 year old MIGHT know not to touch it, and my 3 year old MIGHT know not to touch it and we MIGHT be okay and whatnot (no) BUT even if I were to accept that, what about your older son's best friend - what if HE comes over and doesn't know not to touch it? Sorry. Not going to trust my child's life to those maybe's. So nope, I'm asking that question and nope, there's no easy way to ask it and yes, it'll ruin some friendships and make me look like a liberal left-wing freak when we're in Tennessee, but I. Don't. Care.

    Good for you for asking that question! I'm both proud as hell that you did it and glad to know I'm not the only paranoid mommy out there!

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  6. I'm so proud of you!! I, too, have been in that position where I don't know the parents well enough to know if they have guns in the home. It is very hard to ask, but it gets easier every time :)

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  7. I did the same thing. It was awkward but I had to know. Like you, it was a huge concern for me. When my son was invited over to a police officer's house for a sleepover once, I knew there would be a gun there. I brought it up to the son's mother and she confirmed it. She said that he puts it in a shoebox in his closet every night and the kids know where it is and know not to touch it.

    My son did not sleep over there.

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  8. To clarify, had she said the gun was locked up, I would have allowed it. A shoebox in the closet is not a safe place from inquisitive, curious kids. Just my opinion at that time.

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  9. Kate, I am one of THOSE moms too! That is probably my biggest fear. In fact, I have told my MIL that my daughter will NOT be staying at her house, EVER, because I know she has a gun. Plain and simple. No hemming and hawing. No If, Ands or Buts. There is no room for negotiating here.

    You can be sure that if my daughter does get asked to sleep over, etc, I WILL be asking that same question!! Good for you for speaking up about it.

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  10. I think you handled it perfectly!!! That is exactly how I used to handle it when Shan was younger and going to friends' houses for the first time. I never had a parent get offended (at least visibly, lol) with me.

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  11. I think you handled it perfectly (Ok, minus the driving up on the lawn part :-)

    Being a police officer, I will always have at least one gun in my home. I make sure my gun is secure at all times and there is no possible way my boys or even anyone, other than myself and my DH, can get to it.

    Every gun owner needs to take precautions to be sure their gun doesn't get in the wrong hands. And I'm not talking about just putting it up in a box out of reach. It needs to be LOCKED! Or have some type of locking mechanism attached to it. Unloading it is NOT enough. Curious kids will figure out a way to load it.

    Ok, I'm off my soap box now. Good topic, Kate!

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  12. This is a great point. I have just decided this is one of those times I just have to put myself out there and not be afraid of looking like "that mom."

    And so, when the boys are going to a new house, I tend to just say, "Hey, I just have a few things I need to double check. Is a parent going to be there the entire time? And I do like to know, just so I can remind my kids about safety and responsible play, do you have any weapons in the house?"

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  13. We are a "gun" family - have several for hunting, but they are in a safe. Locked-up. My kids know what guns are and we even took my daughter to a gun safety course. She loved it and is very aware of them. She is also very protective of my youngest who is 2 telling him he cannot go into our closet. Our closet door has a lock on it as well. We are very protective and do let parent know. (Most of them already know - but I have told moms about the safe) My husband is very careful about his hunting routine - bullets are not left out and guns are secured in cases that lock as well. We have a mutual understanding about it. I for one do not like guns - NEVER thought I would have them in my home. But when I met my knight in shining armor I found that he liked to have guns. So before we even married - we had the talk. We set our guidelines and we have stuck to them. I am very aware of other parents and if I am unsure or if they are "new" I stay for awhile at a play date and look around and I do ask - I ask a lot of questions anyway. I think it is more about how you come across rather than the question itself. Good topic!

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  14. Totally valid point. I will ask with my little ones ask for to go to their first sleepovers. That is, if I allow them to go. I am crazy protective, and I would rather my babies have their friends over to my house, and not the other way around. Lol. Seriously, my kids are never going to leave the house ;o).

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  15. WOW!! First of all I think you are beyond awesome for asking! Some parents might feel too awkward but really when it comes to your kids should that matter!! I am SOOO one of those parents but haven;t really though much about this yet because my kids are not to that stage in life. Man I am going to have a hard time when I have to deal with my kids out of my sight! Also, we DO have guns in our house. Matt is a huge hunter and I honestly don't love it but he always has everything locked up and out of reach. I think you did perfect and any good parent would ever not respect you for asking questions about where your child would be!

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  16. Anonymous12:14 PM

    I am curious...what would you have said if she told you there were guns in the house? I think it's great that you asked but would you have taken him home if you found out they did in fact keep guns in the house? We have guns in our house that are safely locked up seperately from the ammo. We've had several kids come for playdates but none have asked about guns.

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  17. Go you! In a parenting magazine I believe, I read an article that asking about guns is a very important question. I have not asked yet, but my daughter has only been to one friends without me. She has been to my neighbors and I know they don't. I will ask, hopefully I do not embarrass my kids but I rather them me mad at me then in a house with a gun. My dad was a police officer and had guns in our house. My parents showed me them, let me hold one(unloaded) and then locked them back up. It was good, it got my curiosity out of the way. Seriously was not interested. But too many scary stories about what could happen, even to a kid with a good head our his shoulders.

    Great topic!

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  18. Great question! I might ponder this more if I let me kids out of the house. ;)

    We DO have guns in our home, my husband is an avid hunter. We also have bows. No one has ever asked me! I wonder if I could have handled the situation as maturely as you and your friend?

    Blessings!
    Amanda

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  19. Kate,
    thanks for your comments on my blog. I wanted to email you back, but your email wasn't on the comment. I think my new sense of "me" is ok with just being "me" and I like ME so I think others will too!!!
    \
    thanks again for stopping by!! your blog is great and I will be coming back!! :)

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  20. Funny, I have a post about this on Wednesday. I think it is awesome of you to ask the question. It's a concern for you, and you need to know that if guns are present, that they are safely put away...out of the reach of little hands. We do have guns (not handguns), but are hugely responsible with them. I would absolutely appreciate a parent asking me if we had any. It shows your concern as a mother, and it is your job above anything else to keep your children safe. Good for you, Miss Kate!

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  21. Anonymous11:02 PM

    I am curious...what would you have said if she told you there were guns in the house? I think it's great that you asked but would you have taken him home if you found out they did in fact keep guns in the house? We have guns in our house that are safely locked up seperately from the ammo. We've had several kids come for playdates but none have asked about guns.

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  22. Funny, I have a post about this on Wednesday. I think it is awesome of you to ask the question. It's a concern for you, and you need to know that if guns are present, that they are safely put away...out of the reach of little hands. We do have guns (not handguns), but are hugely responsible with them. I would absolutely appreciate a parent asking me if we had any. It shows your concern as a mother, and it is your job above anything else to keep your children safe. Good for you, Miss Kate!

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