Over the weekend, the oldest got to celebrate his birthday with his friend. He was supposed to have several friends come over and stay the night, but the others already had other plans, so it was just the one. That was totally fine with him. He decided we were going to go play laser tag.
We’ve been once before, and it was fun. They have video games and a log slammer, which the kids really enjoy playing on. We paid for the boys to play two laser tag games, and my husband went in with them for the first game. I was more than content to sit on the couch and wait. For the second game, my husband decided not to go in because his ankle hurt and apparently it was sauna hot in there. We both sat on the couch for that round.
During the second round, the boys went in with some older kids. The laser tag employee asked if that was all right, and we were all fine with it. The boys just wanted to go in and shoot again. I assumed the older kids were fine with it too. She made sure everyone was aware that there were little ones in there and to keep an eye out for them. There was another parent who went in also.
Things seemed to be going just fine until they came back out. Then, my son’s friend came up to me and said that some of the older kids told him something about the little kids needing to get out. And they were supposed to be on the same team! He was upset about that, and my response was, “Well, that wasn’t very nice, was it?”
I desperately wanted to say something else to make him feel better, but I didn’t know what. And I didn’t have time. A few seconds after my pitiful attempt at being compassionate, my youngest came out in tears. Apparently, his gun wasn’t working, so he didn’t get the chance to shoot anyone. He was incredibly upset. The employee was there, and she gave all the boys the opportunity to play a different shooting game and win some prizes. I thought that was really nice. And the rest of the evening passed without another incident.
Later on Sunday, after the friend has been picked up, his mom sent me a text and asked about the incident. By that time, I had totally forgotten about it. I brought it up to my husband, and the oldest reminded me what the older boys had said. He didn’t seem bothered by what had been said at all, but his friend was still upset.
I felt terrible. I could only imagine how upsetting that incident had been. The laser tag room is dark, and they were the smallest kids in there. It was probably so scary to have that older kid say that to him and the friend feeling like he had no support or an adult to do anything about it. And neither of us did do anything about it.
I wished he would have said something right after it had happened. That way, either I or my husband (more than likely my husband—he’s bigger and scarier) could have gone in and fixed it. But he didn’t. And afterward, he did tell me, and I’m sure he was expecting me to do something, but I didn’t. I wanted to. I wanted to say something comforting and ask him what he would have liked me to do, but my attention got diverted to my son.
I still feel awful about what happened. I still feel like I should have done something more. But what? There are so many what ifs, but all I have is the situation and the way it played out. Sadly, I can’t change it, but my heart goes out to the friend, and I feel so bad that I didn’t act.