I’m going to let you in on a well-known secret: I don’t like other people’s kids*. I don’t like to listen to them whine or cry during a movie; I cannot stand to sit in front of one that kicks my seat during an airplane ride; and I don’t want my dinner interrupted by some random toddler allowed to run wild through a restaurant and who won’t leave me alone.
If this sounds harsh, blame the parents of these hellions that have collectively ruined my tolerance for their bullshit over the years. I helped raise my 12-years-younger sister, and while that certainly doesn’t qualify me for full-time-parent status, I do have insight into how difficult it can be to teach a child to act properly in public. And guess what: It’s not impossible.
But what really bothers me, more than the snot-nosed brats I encounter in public places from time to time, is the parents who insist everyone in the world has some sort of rug-rat radar that engages the moment their child is near—and demands the cessation of any activity that could perhaps interfere with their specific child-rearing curriculum that we all supposedly were given a copy of the moment we moved into the same ZIP code as said progeny.
I admit that in private conversation, I swear like a sailor. But I also know how to rein it in when in public. And I will own up to dropping the occasional F-bomb at Kroger, but it’s not like I zero-in on an angel-faced tot, inch closer to its angelic ear and unleash a string of vulgarities that would make George Carlin blush.
Shit happens, or so it is said.
Over at Suburban Turmoil, I made a few comments regarding the issue of language around children, specifically that I do not subscribe to the school of thought that says even if a parent brings a child into an adult-oriented environment (bar, concert, football game) where it is a given adult-oriented activities will be taking place (cussing, drinking, making off-color jokes), all non-child-friendly activities must cease immediately for fear of the child witnessing it and, I don’t know, bursting into flames? (I’m still not sure what is so bad about a kid overhearing a bad word. I don’t ever remember being physically or emotionally hurt by overhearing someone else cuss.) However, apparently there are a lot of people who do subscribe to this theory. And they get really pissy if you disagree with them!
You can go over there to read my comments and the resulting backlash, but let me highlight a few of my favorites for you:
Barbara says, “Know what I can not handle ? When I take my child to a supposed child-friendly place, like a football game, and the adults around me are sloppy drunk and swearing. You can bet your ass I’m asking them to stop.” Right, because a football game is totally child-friendly. I mean, people swearing and getting drunk at a football game? WHO DOES THAT?! MY GOD! THE HORROR!!
Barbara also says, “It’s good manners to respect the people who are present.” My point exactly, Barbara. If you willingly bring your kid into an atmosphere that’s not kid-centric, you need to respect the adults’ rights as well. And one of those rights is to be able to ask Jeff Fisher what the fuck he was doing with that last play, the son of a bitch.
Brooke says, “I hate when I’m at the park and grown men are playing basketball and calling each other vulgar names and screaming obscenities. Happens daily. It’s a PARK. It is for CHILDREN. Have some kind of decency.” I guess where I grew up (Chicago), our parks were laid out a bit differently than wherever Brooke lives. The basketball courts weren’t exactly right next to the slides and merry-go-rounds. Also, interesting that she deems a park that has a basketball court–or at least a few hoops–for children only. Selfish much?
And blog-owner Lindsay (let me reiterate that I love her blog and her writing, I just disagree with her here) chimes in, “Why be the one who contributes to a child’s loss of innocence?” Lindsay, I gotta say that made me laugh. Children really lose their innocence from hearing a stranger say “shit” or “fuck”? I would have thought it was from watching the nightly news and seeing all of the murders/crimes reported, or from watching movies where killing is glorified, or accidentally stumbling across an episode of The Hills.
Look, if you parents out there don’t want your kids to use cuss words, that’s awesome. I can respect that. And I will do my best not to cuss if I see a kid coming down my aisle in Kroger (OK probably not, but I’ll try harder.) But you all have to stop demanding the world walk on eggshells around your offspring. And anyway, it’s not like I walk around intermittently screaming cuss words wherever I go like I’ve got Tourette’s. FUCKSTICKS ASSHAT BASTARD SHITBALLS!
But if your kid ever overhears me cuss, be glad it’s in public. Because I can guarantee I’d make his ears bleed if he were privy to a conversation in the confines of my own house. And I’m not even fucking joking.
*By “other people’s kids,” I mean kinds belonging to strangers. Kids belonging to my friends, acquaintances, family members and co-workers are cool. And if they’re not, chances are I can be honest with the parent, or even before I have to say anything the parent reins the unruly kid in.