We did a lot of driving last week - down to Southampton for Bishy's 70th birthday party, and then to Kilburn and back to celebrate with Chris. One thing I noticed and had to write about is my newfound interpretation of a common sign, the "Baby on Board" placard that adorns many back windshields of cars on the roads. Now, presumably the original intention of this sign was to alert the drivers - possibly non-parents - of other cars that there was a very precious passenger on board the car sporting the sign, and that because of that delicate and treasured baby-passenger, drivers should be extra careful. I have also just found in my research that it's also important in case of an accident for the emergency services to know that a child is in the car. Although this is of course no laughing matter, my new revelation is that the sign is actually a warning to other passengers that they should beware the movements of the car with the sign, and here is why:
- "Baby on board" implies in most cases that there is also a parent on board. A sleep-deprived parent. A mother who has been having interrupted nights, or a father who hasn't had his quota of winks, or even worse, possibly both. In that sleep deprivation affects your responses and ability to concentrate as much as alcohol or drugs, other drivers beware!
- Because time at home often revolves around dealing with one or more children's food, play, bathtime, or bedtime, this leaves little time for the sleep-deprived parents to talk. What better time to talk - uninterrupted - than when the baby or babies are asleep in the backseat?! Of course, talking can sometimes be stressful and lead to squabbling - again, not all that conducive to good driving!
- There is also the possibility that rather than sleeping peacefully in the cozy chariot, the bundle of joy is misbehaving in the backseat, shrieking madly for milk or moaning about being hungry, creating yet another scenario for the driver to lose focus on the road.
In conclusion, the "Baby on Board" sign was surely actually invented by someone without children, who wanted to devise a way to know when to keep clear of a car toting a toddler. With that, I think we should stick to public transportation for a while...