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My Ten Commandments of Parenting

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"Mom, did you know that God is in the wind?

"No, I didn't, but that makes sense."

With both kids in Jewish day schools there is often chat around here about God and all his magical powers and gifts. These can be challenging discussions, when their mom (me) doesn't believe in a bearded man in a silk robe.

"Mom, this is the week we apologize to God."

"What's his number, I've got a lot to be sorry about."

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No one wants to believe in an awesome force that watches over me and will make all the shit in my life "right" more than me. But trying to imagine someone outside of myself who's got the juice to do this has never felt right. It feels like Elf on the Shelf.

I know I can't pray to God for a check to arrive in the mail. I've tried.

I'm practical. It's hard for me to invest in things I can't see. I can see cause and effect. I eat ice cream every day for a week, and my pants don't fit on Monday. I can write stories and pull characters out of a hat, but my imagination stops at magical thinking off the page. I know I can't pray to God for a check to arrive in the mail. I've tried.

When my kids' God talk starts to feel like a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, I embrace it as just that—fantastical, awesome stories.

All I know is, I believe in the Ten Commandments—the Ten Commandments of Parenting, that is. If I were to write it, it might look something like this:

1. Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

Make your kids pick up their shit starting now. Especially towels.

2. Don't let your kids covet sweets, they will only want more.

Sugary foods need not be items of fetish and worship. Eat them without stigma and then they are no big deal.

3. Don't project your hopes, dreams and failures onto your kids.

You f-ed up. Deal with it, don't dump it.

4. Teaching manners goes a long way.

They show that you give a shit.

5. Patience really is a virtue.

Otherwise you're a hysterical nightmare and scaring the crap out of your kids when it takes 30 minutes to tie a shoe.

6. Lead by example.

When you use "fuck" as an adjective around your kids, make sure they understand proper grammar usage.

7. Do not do unto others as they do unto you.

If the brat in the sandbox throws sand in your kid's eye, don't let him throw it back.

8. Forget "Eye for an Eye, tooth for a tooth"—this will just breed douchebags.

Teach your kids to be "mensches" no matter what.

9. Be original.

This is my version of don't covet. Don't try to steal anyone's jam or vibe, be yourself.

10. Honor thy mother and father.

Unless they were abusive, alcoholic, narcissists who abandoned you when you were little, then they don't deserve your respect.

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So far my kids have not asked me about my beliefs in God. If they do, I will tell them the truth: "God is whatever you want him to be. For me he's a triple espresso, iced-almond latte and a Quest Bar before a Soul Cycle class."

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