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Back in November, both kids had a sudden urge to start riding their bikes a ton. I say sudden because it felt really strange. They'd both learned to ride bikes years ago, but due to a horribly negligent father «ahem» that hadn't fixed some flat tires, they hadn't ridden in at least a year and a half. My wife contributed to their cause reminding me that her tires were flat, too. Knowing the tubes were bad several tires, I headed to the bike store and bought brand new tubes for every bike wheel in our garage.

After a couple days of getting their confidence up, Martha and I had the sweat-inducing pleasure of practicing ‘fretting go’. You know? That part of parenthood where you give your children permission to ride around the neighborhood without you - then wander around the house pretending to get stuff done yet all the while the inside of your heart and soul is A FIRESTORM OF FEAR AND DOUBT THAT PUTS MT. DOOM TO SHAME!

Thankfully, they did really well checking in on-time and seemed to thrive with their new freedom.

My son was the recipient of two different sets of walkie talkies for Christmas. One set is a spy-themed toy that fit around the neck and have a small earbud. The set bragged of 'whisper sensitivity'... but really seems to require whispering loud enough to be heard across the house sans walkie talkie. The other set is an actual set of real radios... supposedly with ~32 miles of range[1].

The other day, while Martha and I were preparing dinner, the kids asked to ride their bikes. On a whim, I suggested they take one of the radios and we could keep in touch while I made dinner.

About ten minutes later, we volleyed radio messages back and forth discussing where they were and how far much longer it'd take to finish preparing dinner.

All of the sudden, our conversation is interrupted by another group of people that seemed to be travelling down the nearby interstate and discussing rest stop options. It was tough to understand at first and totally harmless, but then there it was—clear as day—some strangers talking with my children and I on our walkie talkies.


Maybe it's not a big deal? Obviously, at first, I was really uncomfortable with the idea of someone else stumbling into what we thought was a private conversation. I suppose it was a good lesson we could learn without anything bad happening.

I guess my biggest question is... How careful do we really need to be with the radios? Is it conceivable that some horrible person could listen in and use our conversation to track down a couple vulnerable kids? Is that overly pessimistic? Perhaps this is a golden opportunity to have the kids practice using some sort of code system to describe their location and direction?

Have you run into situations like this? How have you handled it?

  1. providing the transmission is occuring across flat, uninterrupted terrain ↩︎