Some people just don’t give a f@€k!
And it’s evident in the way they choose to conduct themselves, in the language they use publicly, especially near children.
This has been clear for me many times over, but during a Starbucks visit on a Saturday evening earlier this month with my husband and my three-year-old daughter in tow, we were subject to it.
Because the evening had just an edge of a chill — and I had prepared for an end-of-day cooling off, the little lady was just fine with a light zip-up hoodie. So, we sat outside as our Starbucks (or rather, the one we prefer. As anyone knows: throw a coin, hit another Starbucks) has a welcoming setup: just dim enough outdoor lighting, wrought iron chairs, tables, a few umbrellas with the company’s name emblazoned across, a few decently spaced out trash cans, and a view of inside the beloved coffee shop, as well as everything going on around you along Starbucks’ sitting area and the quaint shopping center of which it is a part.
A few tables over were some other adults — initially two gentlemen who looked older than us — who were soon joined by a handful of other individuals. All of them were loud talkers, which is fine. My own husband has a voice that carries. That’s no crime. But, they abruptly began sprinkling their conversation with profanity. The first instance, I wasn’t bothered because I figured they either didn’t see my child or wouldn’t continue swearing. Me giving people the benefit of the doubt. Me attempting to have faith in humanity. Me naive. Me wrong. It continued — even after a short pause in their conversation as my daughter nearly took a bad spill when she slid off her chair; clearly, they noticed her presence in that moment.
Disrespect. Immaturity. Insensitivity. These characters, these colorful cards, these childish boors exhibited all three. Yes, toward me and toward my husband, but I don’t care one iota about that. I care about that all of it was also put upon my young child, who is not mature enough herself to turn toward these folks, these rough-around-the-edges, potty-mouthed anal tracks (at least one was a woman but she acted like a man. Not quite what Steve Harvey has recommended) and say, “Please, don’t curse around me.” I bet even if she had the mind to speak on it, they might have ignored her. I mean, if you are going to use profanity in public, near a child, surely you’re the type capable of other ignorant actions, correct?
This is really the entire rub of it: How unfair they were being to my child. Even though it wasn’t directed at her, and even though it’s possible that she didn’t pick up on any of it, it was still a verbal assault. And since most kids her age, including the little lady herself, are human parrots, it’s possible that some small part of it landed somewhere in her gray matter, yet to announce its presence.
If you don’t have Tourette’s Syndrome, there is no reason for you to be using profanity in public. None. End of story. I don’t really care who doesn’t agree with this. I stand firm in it. Hate me for it if you must. Just…Stop. Cursing. Around. Children.
Look, I’m an adult, so I can handle adult things, sometimes simply by letting it pass. On my own, profanity doesn’t bother me. I can choose to ignore it, and usually do. I can pretend that I didn’t hear anything, also a normal approach of mine. But, I am against profanity. Not because of strong religious ideals (as I am not very religious); or because of a lofty judgmental perspective: there is no way I would ever believe that I am better than anyone or vice versa; and not even because I believe that I am without fault. I’m an imperfect human just like every one else who walks this watery ball. Moreover, no pride in admitting this, but I used to curse like a truck driver during my adolescence and college years.
Used to. Because cursing is to meaning as a candy bar is to calories — empty. Just like a candy bar does nothing to enrich your health, profanity does nothing to back up an argument, or get a point across intelligently. Actual words will always trump because they have actual meaning, and profanity boils down to nothing but ugly sounds.
And considering how knee-jerk judgmental so many people are, do you really want to hand a stranger what seems like a valid reason to misread you as a person just because you cursed in public? To think you’re uneducated, unclassy, uncouth? To see an aggressive, rude brute? I don’t know…maybe you are such a person, who might shrug and say, “Who gives a f@€k1ng sh**?” to all of those inquires.
The Salt Lake Tribune (sltrib.com) reported on a study conducted by Brigham Young University, which found that profanity is “related to being physically violent and aggressive in how they treat others.” Sarah M. Coyne, a BYU assistant professor of family life and lead author of the study said: “‘It represents a lack of respect for parents or whoever you’re using it towards. It’s like a slippery slope. You start using it, and it becomes associated with other aggression.'” So, there’s a probability that once my daughter begins to really note curse words due to the unkindness of strangers, that she’ll not only begin to repeat them, but eventually exhibit disrespect and aggression. I don’t want this around my daughter! I don’t want her to become this! Because I am her mother, I have a say in this — one that felt denied when these low-class creeps took it upon themselves to essentially decide for her, me, and my husband that she would in fact, be hearing such verbal garbage simply because she was enjoying an evening out with her parents. That doesn’t add up to me.
Tom Long, a man interviewed in the article said: “‘Most people are using profanity because they know it’s an aggressive thing to do.'” Long also said that profanity exhibits a lack of intellect. I couldn’t agree more. Jorge Barraza, another man interviewed, said that he teaches his son that “‘when you speak that way, you look more ignorant.'” I also agree with this. It’s another reason I don’t want it around her, so that she doesn’t also in turn come across as a dumb ignoramus, with judgement being laid upon her.
OK, what others think of us is none of our business really, and wholly their problem. BUT, when you make a habit of something, it isn’t easy to turn off. Read: Job interviews, for one instance where you wouldn’t want to be your own worst enemy. Now, I could care less if these slime balls or anyone else like them ever stupidly bombs an interview for perspective employment — it would be what they deserve for having loose lips spewing forth junk. What I am saying is, life is hard enough. I don’t want the influence of individuals that we don’t know shaping her into this sort of person, who says whatever comes to mind without thinking about how it might make others feel uncomfortable or just put forth what could be a false representation of who she is as a person.
In spite of all that I am saying, in spite of my long ago conscious choice to stop swearing, every once in awhile, in particular when I’m really angry or I injure myself badly, an f-bomb will drop. I bet this is a natural response for anyone to either an extreme emotion, or pain. But I try to keep it to a minimum because it’s the responsible, gentle, fair thing to do when you have a child, because it doesn’t sound good, because I have a vast enough vocabulary and can certainly express myself clearer with words. Above all else, I don’t slip up in public or in conversations with anyone in my life that I care about because my first thought is: I don’t want to unintentionally offend anyone, and have that effectively end a relationship or keep a new one from starting. That would be a careless way to interact with others, to live life, to put forth any reaction or response.
To correlate, Psychology Today (psychologytoday.com) posted this: “A recent article in the Association of Psychological Science’s Observer discusses some of the issues in the study of swearing. These researchers note that swearing increases with strong emotions. Hit your thumb with a hammer, make a big mistake, or get startled or angry, and even the most polite and reverent person will likely swear. The researchers suggest that swear words might have a cathartic effect of making us feel better after an injury or emotional episode. It is clear that swearing can take the form of verbal abuse and harassment, and it is this sort of swearing that can be potentially harmful — a substitute for physical aggression…..In all likelihood it isn’t swearing itself that is harmful,…but the factors associated with swearing. For example, when we hear a young child swear, we assume that the child lacks discipline, and a swearing child might suggest to us that he or she is a bully or ‘bad influence’ on other children.”
It’s unfortunate, at least in my mind, that the use of profanity has permeated our society like so many other things that we don’t benefit from, to the point of desensitization. That’s why when it comes to my child, I get really heated about this subject — there is already too much in this world that will wear away her innocence. Granted, there is much worse badness to protect her from, but because a large part of being a parent is providing the best protection possible in all things and in all ways, and because it is my job to be my child’s advocate until she is capable to back herself, I take guarding her morality seriously, from the largest issue down to the smallest. I know profanity sits somewhere closer to the smallest range of things, but as a mom, I tend to equalize it all — no threat to her is more or less quantifiable than another.
On PsychCentral (psychcentral.com), Timothy Jay, a psychology professor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts was quoted: “‘By the time kids go to school now, they’re saying all the words that we try to protect them from…We find that their swearing really takes off between (ages) three and four.'” How alarming! My kid is that age!
Jay continues on: “‘As soon as kids can speak, they’re using swear words. (Well, this part can’t be entirely true. How would someone who just learned speech, know on their own about swearing?) That doesn’t mean they know what adults know, but they do repeat the words they hear.'” Exactly. A three-year-old is basically a little parrot, or a record player, repeating back to you what you just said, sometimes when you least expect them to. And they don’t have any idea of the meaning or intent behind the words until we inform them. But how about we measure twice and cut once — inform our children before they learn something improperly from someone else? Or better yet, make it so that we don’t have to worry about preschoolers picking up on adult vocabulary by never using it around them to begin with?