Wednesday, April 8, 2009

warning sign

While backbacking through South East Asia in my early 20s, a road sign caught my eye on entering Malaysia from the Thai border. It was clearly meant for foreigners. I don't recall if there was something written on the sign but it wouldn't have mattered to me since I did not understand the language. But the 3 separate but connected images on this sign remain vivid in my mind.

At the top was an large outline of a marijuana leaf. Directly below it was a human figure falling backwards with arms flailing and legs in mid air as if suddenly struck hard in the chest and stomach. To the right was a machine gun with a flash of light at the tip of its barrel pointing at the falling figure. The message on this warning sign is unmistakable: Get caught with weed and you die.

I wish some of my children's toys came with a warning label like this one. Not as nightmare-inducing, perhaps, but I'd really love to see a warning label with a clear-cut cause and effect that my 3 and 1 1/2-year-old will understand because they just do NOT get that some toys are not meant to be played with a certain way.

Take Little Dude's giant construction truck and detachable trailer, for example. It's amazingly life-like, incredibly well built and a ton of fun to play with. I can see why both my boys love this gift from grandma and grandpa so much. But, aside from the usual "choking hazard: not recommended for children under 3" warning, the instructions also say it should never be ridden.

But, why not ride the truck? Because as beautifully-engineered this truck is, it will break under pressure from a little toddler riding it. I'm not concerned so much about the thing breaking. What worries me most is that it will break when I'm not looking and crack into shiv-like pieces that Littler Dude could then use to either impale himself or Little Dude ... not an unlikely scenario given that Littler Dude is going through an aggressive phase.

I need a graphic warning sign for my kids because no amount of gentle reminders, firm demands or angry threats from me will make them stop using this truck as a ride-on toy near the step leading into the familyroom ... a room cluttered with toys that could spear unsuspecting eyeballs and toy box corners that could damage falling heads.

Telling my kids not to use the truck and trailer as a ride-on toy is like telling them to stop eating things off the floor. See food. Must eat it. See big truck. Must ride it. That's how their minds work. An image, or even a video, sending a message that says, "ride this and bad things will happen" might be the break through I'm looking for.

My boys love riding this truck and trailer so much that they've even taken a break from their usual toy-squabbling and have teamed together to ride them in tandem.

So what is a poor hyper-paranoid mom to do but throw up her hands, surrender to the moment and snap a photograph ...

... or two ...
... and hope for the best.


  1. Aaaaah - they are so totally cute. Yeah, let them ride on it I say. There's not too far to fall!!

    Btw - think I may have seen that same sign myself a few years. Those were the days!

  2. I have taken pictures in the most weird situations, so I understand. Your boys are so cute!
    Thanks for voting for my post at momblogsnetwork :)