“Hey mom!” The daycare worker looks at me with that look, the one I’ve come to know to mean something happened today. I can see it in her eyes, that she’s not really looking forward to telling me whatever comes next, but it has to be said. “He tried to bite today – four different times! Every time he was on the floor, he would crawl over to the same child and just try to bite. I was able to stop him, but he spent more time than he needed to in the bouncer just so he wouldn’t bite.”
My heart sinks a little bit. My baby – the biter – is 14 months old. I literally do not have any idea how to teach him not to bite. I have tried things that make sense to me, and the one thing that seemed to work – me crying dramatically when he bit me – only stopped him for a few weeks. It seems he is back in this habit.
He has bitten another child at daycare. It was not hard enough to break the skin, or leave a lasting mark, but I still hate this more than I can put into words. My heart broke for the mama of the other child. And it was not very difficult for me to imagine being on the other side of that particular phone call.
Mom of the Bitten
Towards the beginning of the school year, I received one of those dreaded text messages from daycare, accompanied by a rather gruesome picture of my daughter’s face, along with the message that she had been bitten. I was already on my to pick them up when the text came through, but I did drive a bit faster at that point, because the photo was so alarming.
When I got there, her face was red, angry, and swollen. I was told that it was the other child’s third strike with biting (a common policy, I believe). While relieved that I would not have to worry about this child biting her again, I also knew in that moment how easily it could have been my child who was doing the biting.
While I was brokenhearted for my sweet girl, who clearly was dealing with something painful, I chose not to focus on the other child and his/her mama. I knew that bites are, unfortunately, a phase that some kids go through. The mark on my daughter’s face has still not disappeared entirely. While the bite did not break the skin, it was hard enough to cause damage to tissue underneath. We hope that in time, it will fade entirely, but it has been several months since this incident.
Back to Today
While I can look back over my life and easily pick out my many failing moments, I can honestly say that this was not one of them. This was a moment that I chose grace. I chose to believe that the other child’s mother was trying her best and had no idea what to do to keep her child from doing, well, what kids sometimes do. I even thought of the frustration that she might have faced as a working mother who now had no childcare because her kid was a biter. As frustrated as I was about the mark on my daughter’s face, I tried to put myself in the other mother’s shoes as well.
I am thankful for those moments of reflection following my daughter’s terrible bite. I could have reacted in any number of negative ways, railing on the mother online or yelling at the daycare worker for not stopping the bite from happening. The only thing I could control in that moment was my own reaction to the situation, and, at least that time, I managed to do that well.
I hope beyond hope that my son never bites anyone again. This includes me! I hope I never walk through the doors of the daycare to hear them tell me, again, that he tried to bite. But if he does, my biggest hope, is that the mama on the other side can put herself in my shoes for just a minute and somehow believe that I am doing the best that I can.