"No, f--- you!"
"No, f--- you!"
"No, girl, f--- you!"
And so it went, for a solid two minutes, back and forth. I stood by the ramp to the big climber on the Buddy Attick Park playground, and simply watched this scintillating and quite loud conversation being had on a picnic table next to the basketball court. Due to the surprising early dose of spring that afternoon, the area was full of folks soaking in the warm air, yet no one else seemed to even notice the verbal sparring going on at the table.
I glared at the two teenagers who either didn't care who heard them or were stupid enough to not realize that they sat 20 feet away from a playground full of young children, but I admit that I felt too intimidated to say anything. Wimpy, I know, but unfortunately, I've had my share of negative experiences in our area when I've done so in the past, and I simply wasn't in the mood to be part of a public spectacle.
Now, don't get me wrong here, because anyone reading this who knows me personally knows that I have to admit to a certain affinity for profanity. Yup, that's right- I'm not taking any sort of "No one should ever use swear words" stance here. I'm more of a "there's a time and place" kind of gal myself.
The irony for me that afternoon was that I had vetoed a trip to one of our neighborhood playgrounds and suggested heading to Buddy Attick instead, with the mindset that it would be more family-friendly. My observations in our own neighborhood have been that the after school hours turn our playgrounds into a hanging out space for high school students. As a result, the environment is much more "mature" than I prefer for my children. I anticipated many more families out at Buddy Attick that afternoon, creating a more appropriate overall feeling.
Unfortunately, what I experienced reflected what I'm observing everywhere I go where there are even small numbers of teenagers together. Even while playing in our own yard, my children are subjected to the loud profane language of passersby in the after school hours. In fact, just last week, when my son looked in the direction of the shouted cursing, the "ladies" involved began to swear directly at him. What the *bleep*?!
Has it always been like this? I can remember being a teenager hanging out at the mall with my friends, most likely being obnoxious to anyone over the age of 20, but while I had a spicy language that was typical of the average adolescent, I knew when it was just not kosher to break it out. Where is this awareness now?
So here's my public plea to all local youth — how about you look around you before you start shouting obscenities to your pals when you're out and about in public? Plenty of words exist in our language for you to get your point across, trust me, I've been in countless frustrating situations in both classroom and home settings where I've expressed myself sans swearing.
When I was a teenager, I desperately wanted to be heard, to have my opinion on issues in my own world asked for and respected. I imagine that's a universal feeling for adolescents all over. Here's a tip from someone who's been there — conduct yourself respectfully, especially in public, and perhaps you'll get that respect you're craving in return.
Dawn may reside in Greenbelt in real life, but online she lives at her blog, my thoughts exactly, where she chatters on about her funny kids, her NPR obsession and plenty of other randomness. She can also be found at 5 Minutes for Books, reviewing everything from contemporary fiction to children's literature.