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Ability to express self doesn’t mean you should

Last week I took my 3-year-old daughter on a walk around our neighborhood. She is learning how to read and she asks me to read her every sign she sees along the way. I’m happy to read her the street names and help her spell the word “S-T-O-P.”

Then she pointed to a sign on our neighbor’s house and asked, “What does that say?” I found myself at a loss. The sign she’s pointing at has the F-word written in 2-foot-tall letters and I was not prepared to explain to a 3 year old what that word means.

My husband was born and raised in Boulder City. He always told me that it was a great place to grow up — a wholesome, family-centered town reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting. That’s one of the reasons we chose to raise our children here.

So it’s disheartening to see such profane language proudly displayed in an area where dozens of children pass by it daily. And this is not an isolated case of one crass neighbor; we’ve seen a few similar flags and signs around town. They seem to be trendy right now.

I want to make it clear that this is not a political piece. You’re free to show your support of one politician or disdain for another in whatever form you please. That is your right, after all. But just because you’re free to say something doesn’t mean it’s not bad behavior to say it in a particular way. Just because you can scream the F-word at the top of your lungs in a public place doesn’t mean you should.

And these flags and signs are the written equivalent of screaming the F-word at the top of your lungs in a public place. The only difference is that I don’t have the option of quickly shuttling my kids away and explaining to them, “That person is having some big feelings they’re trying to work through,” like I would if confronted with an actual screaming person. Instead, I have to try and navigate a conversation of what bad words are and why our seemingly friendly neighbor has it plastered on their house.

I was talking with a family member about this issue the other day and they said to me, “You can’t shield your kids from things like this forever.” I know I can’t. But right now my kids are toddlers. They deserve to stay innocent for a while longer. They don’t need to grow up with a view of a 2-foot-tall curse word out their window.

There are often preteens at the park where I take my children to play. Every so often, one of them will use a profane word. When that happens I put on my “mom voice” (you all know the one) and ask them to watch their language around the little ones. Usually they straighten up for the remainder of the time that we’re around.

I expected to have this conversation with preteens. I didn’t expect to need to have it with full-grown adults. This is supposed to be “clean, green Boulder City,” so let’s clean up our language, shall we?

The opinions expressed above belong solely to the author and do not represent the views of the Boulder City Review. They have been edited solely for grammar, spelling and style, and have not been checked for accuracy of the viewpoints.

Kayla Kirk is a lactation educator in the Las Vegas Valley. She holds degrees in psychology and perinatal education from Boston University and the University of California, San Diego. You can find her hanging out in the local coffee shops or hiking with her husband and two children.

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