Today I was in the YMCA woman’s locker room when I overheard a conversation taking place between two young women in the row of lockers next to mine. One of these young “ladies” was complaining about a member of her family and thought it necessary to use about every version of the F word imaginable in her description of what this person did and how she felt about it. She was unabashedly bold in both her descriptions and her voice level.
I tried to ignore it…for about 8 seconds.
And then a thought occurred to me, “how can an advocate for children stand for this, in a public place, where children are present?” So I did the most reasonable thing possible…I told on her!
It reminded me of my childhood. I have a cousin who is a couple years younger than me. When we were growing up my brother and I and the other cousins used to torment her. As the teasing droned on my cousin would inevitably stomp her little foot, squeeze her tender fist into tight balls, and SCREAM at the very top of her petite squeaky voice, “YOUR TOLD ON!” She would then proceed to stomp, like an elephant in a china shop, to follow through with her promise of tattling.
So today, after a quick peek at the young woman mouthing the offensive language told me she could, and most likely would, use her not-so-tender fist to rearrange my face if I asked her to please stop shouting naughty words out loud, I, just like my little cousin so long ago, stomped to the front counter at the Y and told on her!
I’d like to extend a thank you to the nice young woman to whom I tattled, who immediately proceed to have a talk with the one spewing the offensive language, which, thankfully, came to an abrupt halt upon “getting in trouble” with the YMCA staff.
One of my own children once asked me how naughty words, and the naughty finger, came to be naughty. I didn’t have an answer for him. I guess I still don’t, but we all know they are inappropriate, so why is it that filthy language is becoming more and more common place in public?
This trend is unsettling, and unnerving, and unfair, to young children and their parents who don’t want their children to be exposed to filth. I don’t use language like that at home, and I don’t want my children, or yours, or any children, to hear it while at the Y, or at Wal-Mart, or in the movie theater. I don’t want to feel like I can’t take my children out in public for fear they will be exposed to the very things I passionately try to protect them from.
When I hear people use the F-bomb in public, especially in the presence of children, I feel somewhat terrorized, kind of like a real bomb just dropped, leaving me dazed and confused and leaving a wake of destruction in its path.
Speaking up, protecting children’s young innocence from such negative influence, is our adult responsibility, even if it means using that ageless child-like tactic known as tattling.
How have you stepped up to the plate to protect children? Please share your stories and inspire all of us to do what it takes to do what’s right for children.
Photo on Flickr by yoshiffles