Every so often I bump into someone or have them over for dinner or we are hanging out somewhere and they will pepper their conversation with profanity. They will stop short and look like they're in trouble because they will realize one of my kids is there.
"Oops, sorry", they will say.
I tell them not to worry. My kids have heard worse - they have been in the car when I'm driving.
I don't even want to know the stuff I've said while my children are in the car. Occasionally I'll come out of some sort of fugue state and catch the last few words of what I was muttering and I am shocked and appalled at the base and ignorant invective I've been spewing but, oh, well, I'm not likely to stop now so I ignore it and turn the radio up.
I defend it by saying "Daddy is using his driving words."
In my defence, I drive in Toronto which apparently has a higher than average number of morons driving (mind you, I occasionally drive though Kitchener Waterloo and they've got to be pound for pound the worst drivers I've encountered). One of my friends, back home visiting his folks from Europe drove to meet me for lunch. He lives in one of those progressive European cities where no one needs to drive apparently. He missed the experience and wanted to get back behind the wheel so he borrowed his father's car to do so. He confessed that, within moments, he was turned into a belligerent rascist hothead.
"Sweeney, I called someone a Goddamn Chinaman. First of all, who even uses that expression anymore? And second, he wasn't even Asian. I became not only a racist but an inaccurate racist!"
He may never drive again. Driving does it to you. Even my very nice neighbour is transformed by driving. She took my kids to the movies a little while ago and they came back and entertained me with the expressions she uses as she makes her way driving through the city. "Come on, uncle, move it!" "Let's go, fatty!" etc.
That said, am I a complete hypocrite when I do not let them swear around me or in public? No. I don't think so. They need to know what is appropriate and swearing is still not socially acceptable in most situations. All bets are off though when they start driving. I'll have to bite my tongue when they start using their own driving words once they get behind the wheel. I got a small taste of it the other day, I was confronted by someone at a four way stop who apparently lapsed into a coma partway through their turn. I leaned on my horn, and waved him through impatiently.
'Come on, come on," I muttered, "if you're going to go, go!"
"Halfwit," concurred my eight year old in the back seat, not even looking up from his picture book.