My toddler is laying down across my lap as I sit cross legged on the floor prepared to do my best animal noises as we read the same book for the thirtieth time. Unprovoked, and no warning provided she bites my thigh so hard, I’m certain an immediate bruise will appear. In my head, I’m angry, shocked, and honestly, in pain. On the outside I am no different , I literally YELP hoping to scare the shit out of her so she is too scared to bite again. I’ve been instructed by daycare, the doctor, and most online resources to say something like, “No biting, that HURTS mommy.” My husband comes over to give me, the victim, attention. Our low budget performance is just one episode in a very long season. Her tiny razor blade teeth have broken skin and I’m one moment away from biting her back (I will never try this). She comes back up to me, she looks so sorry. She presses her forehead on mine, takes her tiny little mitts and puts one on either side of my face and kisses my nose. She wraps her arms around my neck and squeezes me as hard as she can. She’s saying sorry the only way she knows how. The non-verbal apology was what brought me to actual tears. She has big emotions, big feelings, she’s impulsive, she’s smart, she’s opinionated, she’s excited and most of all she’s a sour patch kid. Everyone assures me that biting is normal, however, Dylan’s never been bit at daycare…except for that one time and I responded “oh great!” And daycare told me, “well she stuck her fingers in a friend’s mouth.”
I hear other moms talk about how their baby was bit at daycare. I nod along, “oh how awful, I’m so sorry that happened!” As I hand Dylan a walnut as part of our rigorous ‘bite hard’ training.
Sometimes I mention that I have a biter and people are always curious if daycare will kick us out. Daycare is, honestly, the only helpful outlet. Providing instructions, advice, and some sympathy to the mother of a sour patch kid. Will they kick us out? I haven’t been told that will happen and no one has ever mentioned it. Is it possible though? At this rate, it is highly likely.
I’m constantly curious at the number of parents who silently hate us due to the numerous incident reports my toddler has been a part of. Who has been bit and bruised by my spirited child? What’s the appropriate response by me? Incident reports are anonymous at daycare. At daycare, Dylan, is “friend.” I assume their incident reports read: “[Your Child] was bit by a friend, this incident was unprovoked. Your child is an angel, and was attacked.” Maybe that’s my anxiety. I usually read them from my perspective and cannot help but laugh. I truly am sorry that my baby bites, it’s awfully frustrating, and painful. I’ve been on the receiving end numerous times and I have to live with the shame. At the same time, I think she’s a hilarious monster with a huge personality. I move on with my day by telling myself these parents must assume there are numerous biters. If someone ever approaches me rudely about it, I’ll lie and pretend they have the wrong mom… “I know, that poor mom who has to deal with their child that… (looks around and lowers my volume as if I’m saying something taboo) bites.” I’d plant seeds of empathy and hope I’ve altered the mind of a Karen. The truth is I want her to stop biting more than you. I am directly impacted and the wounds of my embarrassment far outlast the bite marks on your child’s… forehead/arm/leg/wherever. So, to everyone she’s hurt: I’m sorry, know that I am. We are working hard to correct the behavior. There is no rule book for sour patch kids. Our day is filled with a series of guesses followed by some hoping for the best.
And to the moms of the biters: your child is fierce, excited, and passionate. One day you won’t have been the victim of a bite in months. You’ll look back and like everything else, barely remember this time. I hope what remains is the personality that drives their wild side, and the spirit of a child who cared enough to demand what they wanted (even by bite force) before they could communicate it appropriately. Empathize and understand if people get frustrated with you and your small shark, but don’t let it take up too much space in your head. I assure you, this phase will pass. At least that’s what people keep saying… I’m still waiting.