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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mother of a Biter

Unless your child has bitten someone, you have no idea how far down your heart sinks, how ashamed, how embarrassed, and how much like a failure you feel when your child bites another child.

Yes, one of my kids did get bitten by another child. And yes, I was upset about it. The poor little Bear was still a baby and one of Monkey's friends bit his chunky little leg. While I remember him screaming and that it hurt, I really don't remember any of the other details. I can't tell you exactly how old he was or exactly how it happened or anything else like that. It sort of blurs in with the other times that he has gotten hurt.

But, when it was MY child who bit someone, oh, my, how I can remember the details.

Monkey has three victims: his three closest buddies. The very first time he bit someone, he was on one of those rocking horse on springs types of things and bit his friend's shoulder who was sitting in front of him. I was absolutely horrified. I literally stopped breathing for a few seconds and was completely mortified. It's a different kind of hurt than when your child accidentally knocks into another child on the playground. This is on purpose. This is another child crying because your child hurt them. This is something that could make the mom of the bitee not want her child to have anything to do with yours. This is a sick feeling that you get, wondering if this is going to continue and you're going to have to keep your child in seclusion for years, waiting for this phase to pass.

Fast forward 6 months, back on that same horse, but a different friend sitting in front of him. Another bite. Not quite sure what his reasoning was about that horse and biting, but he's never allowed on it again.

About 6 more months, Monkey and another friend were playing dinosaurs: he was a dinosaur and his friend was pretending to be dinosaur food. At least I could see the reasoning behind that one. Didn't make me feel any better, but it's different than just a random vicious attack.

No more bites from him since and it's been over a year.

Bear has two victims. The first was shortly after Cub was born, so about 9 months ago. He bit a little girl in his Sunday school class. I'm not really sure what happened, though I was so post-partum hormonal crazy that I sobbed for at least half an hour after I found out.

His other victim was just last week. He bit a little girl in his preschool class. His teacher said that the little girl had a truck that Bear wanted, so he bit her hand. Complete mortification.

As an added bonus, his preschool has a two-bite-and-you're-out policy. So, not only am I worried about him biting someone, but this has even worse consequences. Kicked out of school for being a biter. Oh, my.

My kids biting another child. It's an awful, terrible thing. I talked to them, punished them, talked some more, gave reminders, and lived in constant fear of it happening again.

No one wants their kids to get hurt, but it was much easier on me to have my child be the bitee than for him to be the biter. It hurt him and it was awful, but it was over quickly and I really wasn't afraid of it happening again. No one was judging my child for it, no one was judging me for it. The same cannot be said when your child is the biter.

It's easy to sympathize with the mom of the bitee, but know that while it's a different kind of pain, the mom of the biter is experiencing an entirely different kind of anguish.

***Just as an aside, Bear's preschool teacher had a great suggestion about discouraging your child from biting. No, it's not biting your child back- my kids would think that biting didn't hurt if I did that, since I would not be able to bring myself to bite my child so that it actually hurt. Her suggestion was to dip a q-tip in listerine and swab the child's gums with it right after he bites someone. That tiny bit shouldn't hurt them, but it will be an unpleasant and uncomfortable feeling for them. Now, I'm not a doctor and there may be something physically wrong with this, so you might want to check, but I thought it was a pretty nifty suggestion.


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