July 31st, 2006.

Baby on board.

As I drove back from London today along the notorious M6 motorway I couldn't help but notice the number of mini-vans proudly displaying a 'Baby on board' sticker in the rear window. It led me to wonder if the parents felt that the sticker served any real safety purpose, or whether it's just something one feels the need to do out of nothing more than simple parental pride? Maybe some of you parental units out there can shed some light on the mindset that makes a person stick such an uncool and seemingly pointless sticker in the rear window of their mini-van that needed no help being uncool in the first place.

Perhaps I'm looking at this all from the wrong angle. After all, I'm not a proud parent, or indeed a parent of any description. I don't even have a pet to look after and there's a good reason for that. In years gone by I've boiled and frozen fish in an aquarium, run over two cats, got in something resembling a bar brawl with a dog named 'Prince', and starved a friends pet hamster to death by forgetting to feed the little rodent when they were on vacation. It's probably fair to say that my parenting skills have yet to be finely tuned.

Maybe the 'Baby on board' sticker is one of those things in life you never truly understand until it happens to you. Once you've had a child maybe the uncoolness and flat out pointless nature of the 'baby on board' sticker seems less of an issue and something that is in fact not just bearable but perhaps even necessary? Maybe once a person becomes a parent the thought of a 'baby on board' sticker is just something you adapt to, in which you never really understood what the downside was in the first place? Similar in many ways to other seemingly undesirable aspects of parenthood, like for example changing a diaper.

I can't imagine how anyone can change a baby's diaper without breathing apparatus and some kind of toxic protection suit. Heinous diaper changing stories shared by my friends who have kids have almost been enough to convince me that this process alone is possibly too much to ask of anyone.

Why no one has yet invented a machine that takes care of this task is beyond me. Surely there is an untapped market for the BabyChanger™ machine. Simply drop your smelly poo covered baby into the BabyChanger™, select the desired wash cycle, then go off and make a coffee or something while your little darling is jet washed and changed then dispensed wearing a clean diaper. That sounds to me like a great idea! Heck, I'd even put the hot tub purchase on hold to pay for such a machine.

Of course, these days it seems that having even just one baby requires the immediate purchase of a seven-seater vehicle. The 'baby on board' sticker will then be placed in the rear window of the recently acquired mini-van which will over time be customized with other stickers like "My child is an honor student" or something equally cringe-worthy. Add Jesus to the mix and you have likely got yourself a real style problem. In extreme cases, there could be all manner of unsightly stickers on the rear of the mini-van ranging from "Baby on board" to the fish symbol to a huge bumper sticker that reads "In case of rapture this vehicle will be unmanned."

Perhaps the creators of the "Baby on board" stickers are merely catering to the market group that can't help but customize their vehicle. Research would surely show us that the "Baby on board" brigade at one time stuck great big ugly rear wings on cars that had no need for such an addition. Maybe the people who put spinner hub caps on their cars today are the very people who will be buying the "Baby on board" stickers of tomorrow, after all, one never sees a mini-van with spinners or an ugly great big rear wing and neon blue lights on the undercarriage.

Perhaps after applying for the patent of the BabyChanger™ I should apply for another patent that might become the next big thing for the road-going parental generation who want to mix vehicle customization with the pride of parenting. The introduction of the "Baby on board" rear wing might become a popular addition to mini-vans everywhere, followed with "Baby on board" spinners that could perhaps be specially printed with a picture of the little ones face on each of the spinning wheels? You never know, it could be huge!