I was at McDonald’s (why do so many of my stories start this way?), thinking that I’d be able to enjoy my iced coffee in relative peace. Within a couple minutes of me sitting down, I was suddenly surrounded by a group of teenagers. They were talking about Snapchat and how their moms were making them clean their rooms. So much for my peace and quiet, but that’s not the point of this story.

One of the teens — I’m guessing she was maybe 15 or 16, but I’m really bad at estimating that sort of thing — had a little baby with her. The kid was maybe about a year old, able to sit up on his own, but not yet able to walk. I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions. Maybe she was a teen mom. Maybe it was her little sister. Again, not really the point of this story.

Eventually, she said that it wasn’t her kid and that he belonged to one of her friends and she was just watching him for a little while. No big deal. But then several of the friends around her (mostly boys) started with the saucier language. F-this and S-that.

This gave me pause.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics

I know that I should really just mind my own business. Even so, now that I’m a parent, I have developed this overwhelming urge to “protect” the little ones.

While I keep my language PG-13 in public spheres, like on the blog and on social media, I’ve been known to go a little “blue” when among friends… but I try my hardest to bite my tongue and exercise restraint when I’m around children, especially since becoming a dad.

Ever since around the beginning of high school, I’ve been into rap and hip hop. It was right around this time that so-called “gangsta rap” rose to prominence with artists like Tupac Shakur, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Notorious B.I.G., Mobb Deep and N.W.A. They make extensive use of coarse language to express themselves.

Maybe that had an influence on me. Maybe it’s right around my teenage years that I started to push the limits of what was acceptable and proper.

The Pervasiveness of Potty Mouths

Back at the McDonald’s, I felt the urge to tell these teenagers to watch their mouths… then I realized that I’ve become that guy. I’m the grumpy old adult and it probably won’t be long before I tell them to get off my lawn. Pull up your pants. Tuck in your shirt. Wipe that smirk off your face. Maybe I need to work on my scowl. Kids these days, let me tell you.

In the end, I said nothing and just walked away.

What would you have done? What’s your perspective on swearing around little children? Do you swear like a mother? They’re going to be exposed to it anyway, so is it pointless to try sheltering kids from it at all? Or should certain standards still be upheld?

I know that I haven’t exactly been blasting the Ice Cube and Kendrick Lamar with Addie in the car. When I’m alone, on the other hand, is a different matter altogether. Maybe when she’s a little older. Ain’t no one got time for radio edits.