One of the many ways my life has changed after having children is a heightened sense of fear, which I know is because of my deep love for them and my unwavering desire to keep them safe. We all go through it – just look around. Mothers wrapping every corner of the house in bubble wrap, keeping kids in a crib until they are five, grocery cart covers, and excessive use of hand sanitizer. All of these actions result from our fear of our children getting hurt or sick. I get it. We have all been there. There are times that I lay in bed at night and my mind races with possible scenarios that I have little control over and well, it makes me sick.
However, what I do know is that knowledge is power. Say what you want about children being too young to talk about some things, but I disagree. If anything, we wait waaaaay too long to talk to our kids about safety, drugs, smoking, sex, etc. I have made a point to talk with Audrey, ongoing discussions about things so that she will build a foundation of knowledge and be prepared. I want her to have the ability to practice with me what she will do in the event someone offers her a cigarette or asks her to go somewhere she doesn’t feel comfortable. The worst thing ever is having to face something totally unexpected without any prior knowledge. I want my kids to be prepared no matter what they face. Of course, I’m realistic – I cannot protect them from everything and I know they will have to make their own decisions – ones that I may or may not agree with. Either way, as a parent I would be completely remiss if I didn’t try my best to give them as much knowledge as possible.
We have, in the past talked about strangers and what to do if ever she is approached by someone she does not know. We have talked about how it is ok to tell an adult ‘no’ even if they have lost a puppy, need help with something, or are just feeling sad and want to share some candy. She has practiced with me many times how she would yell ‘no’ and run to find an adult that she knew. So now that we have laid a bit of a foundation on that topic, I thought it was time to add another item to our list – guns. What does she need to know about guns in other people’s homes? What does she need to know if she ever saw a gun or if someone wanted to show her a gun?
One caveat here – I’m not just making this stuff up. Yes, back in the day we all had loaded, unlocked guns in our house and not a soul cared and basically we all managed to live through it. Today? Not so much. Pick up any one of your favorite parenting magazines and there it is plastered on the cover – “Keep your kid safe from other people’s guns!” or “How to talk about guns at your next play date!” or “What you need to ask the mother of your kids new BFF!” Grrrrr.
So a few nights ago after bath I approached the subject with her and asked her simply if she knew what a gun was. She confidently and told me that a gun was something that you shoot animals with. I asked her if she knew what she would do if she ever saw a gun and we began a short, albeit important conversation about gun safety. I told her that no matter what she should never, ever touch a gun and playing with a gun is never an option. I wrapped up the discussion by telling her that if she ever did see a gun that she would find an adult and tell them right away. She began shaking her head as if to confirm to me that she has this all under control.
“I know, mom, I know. I should never, ever talk to strangers while touching a gun.”
Ok, so clearly some of the message lines may in fact have crossed but, overall it does sound like she gets it.