Our boy has reached the age when he needs his own housekey. He's not out and about alone much, but every now and then he comes home from a camping trip while we're at church, or has to walk over to his Scout patrol leader's house for a meeting when I need to be out. So, we got him a new key.
As sometimes happens, the new key doesn't fit into the old lock perfectly, so we have to fiddle with it. I hate fiddly things, but I put my old reliable housekey on his ring and took the new one. Better that I have to fiddle than he does.
Recent events got me thinking about his coming home alone and having to mess around with an ill-fitting key. In the fall when he might walk to Scouts with another guy, and come home after dark sometimes. I doubt we'd be away from home, but what if we were? What might he look like to the elderly lady across the street - this 5'5" tall boy (he'll be 5'7" or more by fall, the rate he's going), standing at our front door, struggling to get the door open?
So the new key gave us a teachable moment (har dee har har). We talked about what to do if he came home alone and the police knocked on the door. We related, without getting into details, the story of a man arrested in his own home after police were called about a possible break-in. We talked about the unlikely chance it would happen to him sometime, but that it could - because anything could happen. We asked what he should do if an officer asked him to come outside. Our girl smartly (as in smart-alec) interjected "ask if he's got a search warrant!" OK, well... he's not asking to come in. Do you go outside? How do you know it's a real cop? Why would he ask you to go outside? How would you prove you live here since you don't have a photo ID? Why should have have to prove you live here anyway - isn't it enough to say "this is my house?"*
We don't want to scare our kids. We know the chances of such a happening are so slim it's probably not worth thinking about. But, unexpected things happen.
It's an academic discussion, mostly. The circumstances of such an occurrence just don't happen. But, we want our kids to know what to do if something ever does. Without giving them nightmares.
*Even a 12-year-old sheltered homeschooled kid knows that a police officer who has been called to investigate a possible burglary can't just go away if a person standing in the house says "yeah, I live here; go away now."