Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Slow Children At Play

Stop, Look, Listen, and SLOW DOWN!

Pity the slow children. There is no Labor Day telethon to raise money for a cure. No one has rushed in to take up their cause. We are reminded, on a daily basis, at every turn, around every corner, that they are among us.

Slow children. They are among the rich on Long Island’s Gold Coast, and can be found in the poorest communities along the oft-forgotten South Shore . The malady does not discriminate based on wealth, class, race, or ethnic origin. Alas, slow children cannot even be profiled (sorry, Peter King). You cannot help but spot them, though – even as you try (as proscribed by law, no less) to avoid them.

Indeed, the signs are everywhere. SLOW Children At Play. Notice how the condition is always highlighted, as if we need to be reminded that our residential neighborhoods are amuck with SLOW children.

Seldom are they actually at play, however. Oh yes. The signs are there – in bold black lettering upon a cautionary yellow background: SLOW Children At Play. Don’t you believe that for a moment. Do you ever see them on the streets? Is anyone actually playing? Do you even bother to take your foot off the accelerator to look?

No, these slow children are but invisible victims of a society that couldn’t care less. Like the homeless, the poor, and the Long Island taxpayer (who will soon be both homeless and poor), the slow children in our communities go unnoticed.

Sure, every once in a blue moon a slow child will bound into the street to chase after a ball or to jump in a pile of leaves. They don’t seem slow – and at least they look like they’re at play. Don't be fooled by what is clearly a genetic disposition to appear fast and at play.

Pity the slow children. For they have no support groups, no governmental agencies to place them in the fast lane, and little hope of getting up to speed. They do, however, have ice cream trucks – among them, Mister Softee, operated by strange men with beards wearing turbans with obvious links to Al Queada, that beckon all SLOW Children to partake in frosty treats. [The plot thickens. Call Homeland Security. Raise the terror alert to Magenta!]

Why, here on Long Island , many towns and villages have given up on the very notion that these slow children – OUR slow children – are at play at all. Some of those signs that alert us to the sad truth that there are SLOW Children At Play are now being replaced – slowly, of course – by other signs. Signs that simply urge us to Watch For SLOW Children. It is as if these slow children have become a side show at the circus. A menagerie, if you would. Something to be gawked at. Please try not to stare!

Over the years, as this disease progresses (slowly), and slow children develop into slow adults, entire communities are being overrun by slow people. The signage, now seen in hamlets and hovels across America, proclaiming SLOW Children At Play and Watch Our SLOW Children, are being replaced (slowly) by signs with a single, yet most telling admonition – SLOW!

It could very well be – and studies conducted by the Rauch Foundation and the Center for Governmental Research bear this out – that a slow child or slow adult lives in your very neighborhood. Your next door neighbor may be slow. Perhaps your own child. Definitely, your local legislator. You yourself? [Sure, you’re slow. Given proper care and guidance, however, you may just catch on one of these days.]

With so many slow children becoming slow grown-ups in our communities, is it any wonder that their “play” extends to the hallowed halls of State, County and local government? Hence, the signs seen along the highways and byways, wending their way to legislative chambers around New York State – SLOW People At Work (fines doubled in a slow person work zone).

In just a few weeks, our children will be headed back to school – as in, Schools Open ~ SLOW Children Crossing. As summer wanes, these slow children may no longer be “at play” (or in hiding, waiting to dart out at unsuspecting motorists). Still, it is incumbent upon us, as the guardians of the challenged and meandering, to continue to Watch Our SLOW Children (as if slowness as a disability was something to be proud of), and to make it our business to simply slow down. . . .

This has been a public service announcement paid for by The Community Alliance. NOW read the damn blog, will ya?


  1. yes i have seen a few of these signs on chestnut lane between prospect ave and apple lane.the cars generally doing 60 mph down this 15 mhp street to avoid a few lights probably only see a blur.we have been trying for years to get stop signs installed but we are told no one has been killed or major accidents that would warrant it.prevent it why wait

  2. I am the mother of 1 year old walking twins. On my street in Florida we have the Children at Play signs. Not only do the cars run the stop sign next to our home but they ignore the children postings.

    I thought I found a solution by buying one of those fabric cones that reads Children at Play. I would put it in the street when my twins were playing. I would remove it as soon as we stopped playing. It worked!!!

    Code enforcement was doing their rounds through our small island neighborhood. The woman called the police who came to my house and told me that if I didn't remove the sign from the street I would be arrested and my children taken away from me. I was handcuffed and placed in the back of the police vehicle. Two other police cars arrived and a compromise was reached. They would place more signs in the neighborhood and watch for speeding vehicles.

    As a 38 year old mother who tried for 8 years to get pregnant and then conceived twins with the help of a fertility doctor. I'm apalled that I was treated this way. I have never been in trouble with the law.

    The cars still blow the stop sign. The signs still get ignored.

    I still have nightmares. I thought I was being a good mother by looking to the safety of my boys. They are learing to understand "No" and are new to walking. I do not let them play in the street. They play in our yard but I am always worried that one of them will get away from me.

    Schools have traffic guards and sings for when school is in session. Why can't we pass a law that says the harmless orange cone shaped signs on the street can be used only when children are playing. They work! The yellow Children at Play signs do not work.

    I would think that police and code enforcement have other more important matters that harassing a new family.