Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Rules (for Jewish Mothers)

I haven't read The Rules, that dating book. But I will say that I feel as though I could write my own book on the rules for Jewish motherhood. Apparently there are quite a few. Here are some things that I have culled from my own experience over this past week, a week which coincided with a major birthday party for a carpenter and ended with a major party where all girls apparently wear only bras out in public. I wish very much that someone would publish them. Here is my Readers' Digest condensed version of The Rules (for Jewish Mothers).

  1. Don't be offended when your child refuses to sing the Shema with you before bedtime. It is a phase and doesn't mean that he/she will marry a non-Jew.
  2. Wigging out when your child wants to go to McDonalds is uncool. Especially in front of said child, in long drawn out fight with spouse. Prepare yourself with an appropriately short lecture on kashrut that you have at the ready beginning at age 2. Might want to emphasize that we are not like everybody else and in our family (or our Jewish family) we do it differently.
  3. Regardless of what anyone says, there are plenty of very good (and frum!) Jewish parents who allow their small children that sippy cup of milk immediately following the hamburger. (Really only applicable up to age 3, and at a separate table or in a different room)
  4. I am not a freak because I do not want my small child to stay up till midnight on New Year's Eve. I am the one who will have to deal with him on New Years' Day.
  5. It is not the end of the world if your child is in the middle reading group in first grade. Your perfect child is not then completely flawed. And if you want to help, don't choke him with reading drills or he will end up hating reading.
  6. There are as many different ways to keep kosher as there are to structure your child's TV watching. And NO, it is NOT OK for my 3 year old to watch Dick Clark's New Years' Rockin' Eve. Or, frankly, Ratatouille (which is very scary in movie form, actually, but makes a lovely parve side dish if you're talking just vegetables).
  7. Repetitive behaviors can be used to your advantage. Repeat everything and you'll get a child who knows a lot. I mean this to be used for things like please and thank you, or even brachot. Or smiling. Not: It's time for bed. It's time for bed. It's time for bed.
  8. Insisting that your child wear a dress or a shirt and tie to shul is a waste of time. You will be lucky to get them there for Adon Olam. Lower your expectations and go for shirts with collars and things other than sneakers and sweat pants.
  9. When invited over for a meal, bring something nice like a (good) bottle of wine or a small gift for the children. Do not come empty handed and say "Are you planning to put up new window treatments in here? I could give you the number of my guy."
  10. Be a mother unlike any other. Oh wait, you already are. Your child(ren) really love you, even though they won't keep the food on the table or put away their toys. Those things don't have anything to do with how much they love the uniqueness that is you.

There is just something about "vacation" that allows for the mind to truly be vacant.

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