Slow Children at Play


ImageErrors on street signes crack me up and always have. My personal favorite is the “Slow Children at Play” sign. Obviously, they mean, “Drive slowly because there are children who play here”, or possibly, “Slow down! Children play nearby.” I could even be okay with something that said, “Slow; Children at play.” And yet, what they’ve left us with is altogether different… and it creates an image in my mind of two children standing side-by-side. One of them is so obeise that he moves like dial-up (he reminds me of Dudley Dursley). The other child is physically normal, but he’s the type whose mental slowness is obvious even in his facial expressions (also a Dudley trait).

As I went for my first walk in my new neighborhood, I rejoiced as I took the above picture of a sign that is posted at every. single. entrance, and this morning, I discovered a kindred spirit who understands the mistake here. However, she used it in a very serious way.

Here’s a sad poem that utilizes the punctuation error.

Slow Children at Play

Cecilia Woloch

All the quick children have gone inside, called
by their mothers to hurry-up-wash-your-hands
honey-dinner’s-getting-cold, just-wait-till-your-father-gets-home-

and only the slow children out on the lawns, marking off
paths between fireflies, making soft little sounds with their mouths, ohs, that glow and go out and glow. And their slow mothers flickering,
pale in the dusk, watching them turn in the gentle air, watching them
twirling, their arms spread wide, thinking, These are my children, thinking, Where is their dinner? Where has their father gone?

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