Sunday, September 26, 2010

A tracking device that squeaks

Parents occasionally lose children and children parents. They get separated in stores and markets for various reasons. Usually the consumer goods and marketing surrounding parents and children pull them apart. So far this seems to be universal. Kids get lost, it happens. The difference between cultures seems to be how to prevent this … In Moscow, the solution seemed to be to leave children at home or hold their hand tightly. In the States, one solution is the ridiculous contraption of a child leash, which securely tethers a parent to their child via a “cute” backpack that the child wants to wear. In Korea, I have yet to see how most parents prevent losing children, but one solution made me laugh.

As I sat with the director of my school, eating fastfood/junk from Korea’s version of McDonald’s, Lotteria, waiting for my passport photos to develop, I heard a slightly obnoxious ‘squeaky, squeak, squeeak’. I thought, what in the world is that?! It sounded like someone had a dog toy and was just trying to be annoying with it. I looked up and saw a small boy bouncing on his shoes … ‘squeak, squeak’ with each step he took, this squeak occurred. I couldn’t help but giggle. At first I thought this must have been a cruel joke played by a family friend. Give the child some squeaky shoes to aggravate his parents. Then, as I talked to my director, and she made the comment that you sure wouldn’t lose your child that way, I realized she was right. What a hilarious tracking device.

The boy especially enjoyed the amused faces of people around him when they noticed he was making the noise. Looks of surprise, smiles, and laughter were the reaction, and he responded to this amusement accordingly by making louder squeaks, longer squeaks, and running around more than needed. While in some circumstances this noise would have caused much annoyance, the idea that this little kid squeaked with every step continued to make me laugh. Something tickled a funny bone, and I couldn’t help but laughing the entire time the child was around. What a great solution to keeping track of a wandering child. Though I guess the parent would need to be prepared to endure performances of squeaking!


  1. Unfortunately they have the squeeky shoes in the states too. I work in a gym daycare for a couple of hours a day and we've had several kids come in wearing them. I thought it was cute for about five seconds :)

  2. I've seen it in the states too - at an airport in Washington, D.C., this past summer. The novelty of it was fun. I couldn't imagine a room full of little squeakies!
    What will they think of next?!!!

  3. Hmm...seems the squeaky shoes method would only be effective so long as it didn't catch on with too many parents. I imagine it would be difficult to find your squeaker in a room full of squeakers. That makes me think of penguins picking their children out of the pack just by the sound of their voice :)