Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Signs of Life

Signs can point us in many directions. Lately, my oldest son who is pushing 15 has been paying much more attention to signs. I think it has something to do with the fact that driving a car is a possibility in the near, rather than the far, future. At any rate, he takes great delight in reading road signs out loud. Some of the messages make little sense out of context to a young person who’s never read a driver’s manual. But they’ve brought a bit of humor to our daily travels and even inspired a little deep thinking.

Driving to school yesterday (Yes – we missed the bus on the first day! Doesn’t bode well for the new school year.), we passed a farm with a sign that all of my children find hilarious that says – “GOATS, SHEEP, LAMBS, KIDS 4 SALE”. Driving to a friend’s house over the weekend, Brady announced, “WATCH CHILDREN.” Then he stifled a giggle and looked around. “Where?” he asked. When we turned the corner, there was another sign. “WATCH CHILDREN!” he yelled to me as if I hadn’t done it the first time. By now I was laughing too.

Once as we were driving on a particularly narrow and winding road, we came to a sign that said, “DO NOT PASS”. As we passed the sign, Brady yelped, “But you’re not supposed to pass!” Another time driving with my husband through a construction zone, he announced, “BE PREPARED TO STOP,” My husband mused, “That seems like a good way to go about life.” Profound thoughts for an early Sunday morning.

In Australia, instead of saying, “YIELD,” my daughter informs me that the signs say “GIVE WAY” which seems like a much nicer way of putting it. Our house is backwards and requires that all guests drive around to the back of the house (to get to the front of the house). This creates a blind spot of sorts and cars can surprise my children when they are shooting hoops or playing four square in the drive. For years we had a sign posted that said, “DEAR CHILDREN AT PLAY”, just in case the UPS man doubted that our children were important to us as he backed up the driveway at 30 mph.

When I worried that one of our cats might get hit because they frequently play chicken with the cars ascending our hill, my then-six-year-old daughter found a board and painted a picture of a cat on it and carefully lettered, “BE CAREFUL OF CATS”. I think it’s all in how you ask. People always drove slowly up the drive after that (with a smile on their faces).

This summer I’ve taken two road trips which required full days of driving with a car full of kids (and no husband!). I’m happy to say we all survived and have reached a new milestone in maturity. Of course the number of devices plugged in at any given moment nearly drained the battery. But we do what we have to do, don’t we? Besides reading a lot of signs, it also gave me time to think and filled me with ideas for blogs, essays, experiments, and plans. I apologize for the summer of few posts and promise to get back to posting regularly this fall. If there’s a topic you’d like me to explore, please let me know. I’m happy to be given some direction. All I need is a sign.

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