Monday, June 7, 2010

Slow Children

It was an old sign being offered at the auction: "Slow Children". Most of the yellow paint was still there, but a corner was bent a bit and the holes to mount hardware were a bit rusted. It had served a long time.

You see a lot of different signs in neighborhoods these days, trying to slow traffic down to protect our little ones. The laws of the state are not particularly helpful. They adhere to the idea that 30 mph is plenty slow enough, when it's really way too fast to avoid the darting child chasing a ball or just his own imagination. Even less helpful are the drivers who insist 30 mph is a mandate, not a limit over which common sense should be applied. Nevertheless, we're not allowed to change it to something slower even where there are lots of young children playing.

Parents come to city council meetings asking for help that can't be given. Even speed bumps are problematic when it comes snow plowing time, damaging equipment and leaving icy slippery residues. The bandaid fix is putting up a sign. Having a special needs child in the neighborhood might justify placing a "Deaf Child" sign on the opposite ends of the block as if that will inspire drivers to do what they won't do for ordinary children: slow down. I've often wondered what those deaf children think about being singled out that way. Are they grateful for the extra attention? Or does it embarrass them once they're old enough to understand what's going on?

These days the regular sign alerting drivers to the presence of children will say something like "Children at Play". The message has been changed. Maybe in the near past someone started wondering what the neighborhood thinks about telling the world that this is where the "Slow Children" live?

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