When did we become so awful at watching our kids?
I wondered about this when I received an email promoting temporary tattoos for children.
Not cool tattoos like a zombie or pirate, but a safety tattoo on which parents can jot down identifying information should the child become lost.
Apparently we’re misplacing kids in great numbers.
Parents can choose among more than a dozen GPS trackers for their children, from wristbands to devices that can be tucked into backpacks.
None are injectable at this point, but just wait a few more years. It’s inevitable.
The SafetyTat (safetytat.com) leaves the tracking to the kindness of strangers, whom you trust to call or text the number on the tat — should they stumble upon your child wandering aimlessly in the cereal aisle, if not hitchhiking on a lonely highway.
Simply inscribe the pertinent information on the tat and apply it in a not-too-obvious spot.
You can even design a SafetyTat emoji for your child, nearly ensuring the child wearing the tat is actually yours.
Still, it beats the child leashes, which on the parental timeline of watching kids falls between “Don’t worry, he’ll be fine walking to school with friends” and “Honey, are you OK? Your GPS dot briefly went outside the assigned perimeter.”
A leash is a public admission you can be outfoxed by a 2-year-old.
I didn’t have any kind of tethering or tracking device on my son when he was a child…and I did briefly lose track of him twice.
The first was at a park, but the fact he was three and never walked in a straight line made it easy to locate him within 30 seconds.
The second occurred not long afterward, this time at a McDonald’s PlayPlace when my son disappeared into a maze of plastic tubes.
His cries for help pinpointed his location better than any GPS tracker, and I offered a bag of fries to an older child to fetch him (the kid’s mom, however, made him do it for free).
Otherwise, I kept an eye on him, being protective but not overprotective as he grew and matured, resisting the urge to leash him when he turned 14 and entered tumultuous times.
There is a desire for trackers, as expressed on social media by parents of special-needs children.
A few other moms and dad note they track their children when the kids are with a former spouse, which sounds like a problem no battery-powered device can solve.
But the rest of us might be surprised how well we can track kids ourselves, especially when we look up from our phones.