Normally, I’m not a paranoid person. Still, there are times when we’re traveling as a family that I have to shush my kids and tell them they’re revealing too much personal information.
No, not that kind of information.
I’m talking about the kind of juicy tidbits that can also attract trouble.
Here’s a great example: “Mommy is your password still 123456?” Or a new personal favorite: “Don’t worry Mom, I hid the iPads underneath the seat, just like you showed me.”
Really? Well I’m thinking it doesn’t really matter now that everyone in the parking lot knows where to look.
Revealing this kind of information can get you in trouble on the road. It can make you a target.
Heck, just having three little kids around you as a distraction can make you a possible victim of anything from a snatch-and-grab, identity theft or fraudulent tips.
Don’t believe me? A few weeks ago we were followed from a local mall after purchasing three computers. Each kid carried their own bag with a well-known logo displayed and tucked them into the trunk of our Honda. We then drove about twelve miles away from the mall and stopped at a grocery store for eggs. In less than ten minutes, thieves broke into the car and only took the computers.
How do our youngest passengers know the exact subjects we wish they’d keep to themselves, revealing the harmless white lies we tell to stay out of potentially dangerous situations? Why do they feel compelled to talk about sensitive subjects at high volume in extremely public places?
And how should we respond?
Discretion isn’t necessarily in my children’s vocabulary. For instance, my middle son, Iden, has a bad habit of knowing exactly how much cash I have in my purse. One day I was approached at the gas pump by a woman asking for spare change to help her out of a jam. I told her I was sorry but I couldn’t. Then Iden piped up from the back seat, “But Mom, didn’t we just get $100 at the bank?”
Time for the talk. I had to let him know that we don’t mention how much money we’re carrying. Then I had to explain that the lady we met was running a scam. What would you have told him?
Then there’s my oldest son, Aren. He’s been known to yell across the hotel lobby, “Hey Dad, we’re in room 205 right? Should I grab the cameras now or don’t we need them today?”
I explained to him that it wasn’t appropriate to yell in a public space. And we especially don’t talk about expensive equipment or where we stow it unless we have some privacy.
Ah, yes, privacy. That’s another concept my kids have yet to master.
Finally there’s my daughter. She has a bad habit of picking up things that don’t belong to her and moving them, not paying attention to where they’ve gone. So far we’ve been lucky and it hasn’t been a wallet or a credit card.
Often it’s a book, cell phone or set of keys. The conversation usually goes like this:
Me: “Erysse, honey, have you seen my cell phone?”
Erysse: “Your what?”
Me: “My cell phone. You had it downstairs in the lobby at breakfast.”
Erysse: “No I didn’t.”
Me: “Sweetheart, we can’t go anywhere until I find my cell phone. Do you think it’s still downstairs?”
Erysse: “I don’t know.”
The hotel room phone rings. It’s the front desk. Someone turned in a cell phone and they thought it looked like mine.
Have you ever had to have a chat with your kids or traveling companions to let them know which subjects you wish to keep private? Do you have any suggestions on how to talk to kids about being discreet when traveling? Any advice or personal anecdotes are welcome.