Many people far funnier than me have riffed on the “baby on board” signs you see in the rear window of many minivans. For the most part, these people have claimed to be insulted that you don’t trust them to drive carefully unless there is an innocent infant at risk. I see these signs in another light: baby on board is actually parentese for “watch out, buddy, the person manning this death machine may not have had a full night’s sleep in as much as five years.”
I’m not so much worried about YOUR driving–you aren’t chauffeuring a 3-year-old who has decided she is a pterodactyl. (Or maybe you are, in which case we’re in real trouble.) When is the last time you pulled a muscle trying to reach someone’s shoe while doing 70?
Really, the sign should read Parent Driver on Board. And maybe we should have a color system, like a terror alert, to inform other motorists of the full situation. Red if you have a child under age 1: Driver likely doesn’t know what day it is and may not have slept for more than four hours at any given stretch in months. Orange for toddlers: Driver is rummaging for Cheerios in her purse. Yellow for preschoolers: Driver may intentionally steer into oncoming traffic if he hears a Wiggles song one more time. Grey if you have two kids in elementary school because they are most certainly pummeling each other back there over seat space. We should throw in reusable decals with extra warnings: “kids are hungry,” “no nap today,” “spouse is out of town,” “one of us was up all night barfing,” that kind of thing.
So drivers, don’t take the sign as a personal attack. These parents are trying to help you stay away from the wreck-waiting-to-happen that is their car. It’s for your own safety.