“I will kill you mother f*&^$%. I will stab you,” she said.
And there was more. A full on rant. I can’t seem to recall additional pieces of the swearing that was taking place but it seemed to go on and on. This wasn’t the latest Netflix series, so there was no mute button for my young kids. This conversation was taking place on a bouncing teeter-totter just a fifteen-minute bike ride from my house.
We had finished up lunch at picnic table just 30 or so feet away from this bouncing teeter-totter. Definitely within earshot. My kids were off intently climbing, but these two girls about nine years old weren’t exactly whispering.
My wife and I gave each other a look of amazement that such violent discourse could come out of a young, supposedly innocent mouth like that. We were taken aback, and honestly I was a little frozen, processing what to do.
And that’s when our model stepped in. Call him a coach. Call him brave. Call him a five year-old boundary-drawing playground policeman.
“Can you please watch your mouth,” said this five year old boy who walked right up to the bouncing teeter-totter. And within arms length to this older girl, he simply made his request and stood there.
I didn’t completely catch everything that was exchanged afterward. The older potty-mouthed girl mumbled something. The boy answered back. Then he simply went back to his caretaker, a stoic grandmotherly character engrossed in a book, and continued playing.
Young kids will draw their own boundaries when given the ability. People have rights no matter how big, and when in public spaces, our children don’t have to put up with filth.
I wish I would have known more about this kid or his caregivers. Maybe he’s naturally bold like this or maybe he’s been put in plenty of previous situations to exercise this muscle.
I simply thanked him as his group was leaving. Because his simple request worked. It wasn’t a demeaning, shut-the-f-up request. His request was simply, “can you watch your mouth.” And what did he say when I said thanks?