The dreaded phone call
It’s one of the phone calls that all working parents whose toddler is in daycare dreads … the one from the center alerting you that your child has been hurt in some way. You see the school’s name pop up in your caller ID, and you momentarily panic for several reasons ::
(A) your child is “sick” and you have to come get them immediately (seriously?! But I HAVE to get x,y,z and finished before my deadline!!)
(B) You’re child has been injured, more than likely by tripping over his own feet and bumping his head (no? is that only my kid?) or
(C) and this is probably the worst, your child has injured another child, more than likely by biting another child (no? is that only my child?).
The sick phone call, although admittedly stressful, only really affects your life, and you are unlikely to have to deal with any fallout regarding your child’s ability to continue attendance at the school. Similarly, the second phone call, assuming its just a bump that an ice pack and kisses will soothe, your child will not be turned away from the school. Now, it’s that third phone call that makes my stomach turn. Luckily, and I wholeheartedly believe it is ALL luck, my oldest has yet to hurt another child at school, at least enough to warrant a phone call. That is not to say we didn’t get a phone call about biting. I was even told by his teacher on the first day to expect it: “he will bite and he will get bitten.” Sure enough, he was bit several times when he was in the 1-2 year old class.
When it’s your child biting
Now, I had seen the bashing of other moms via Facebook regarding their sweet little Suzy* getting bit that day. I never understood this sentiment, even after Mark got bit so badly it broke the skin and he was bruised for days. Of course, I felt bad for him. But he was smiling when I picked him up and would simply point to the spot and say “Bobby* bite,” then carry on with playing. He was not fazed so why should I be? Kids are resilient. They are also often unable to express themselves verbally and resort to physical expression, a la biting, shoving, pinching, hitting etc. I always said I would rather have a kid who is bit rather than have the child who is doing the biting. Oh the irony.
It all changed when I had my second child, who we lovingly referred to as “baby vamp.” When he started at a new school, we were told about a biting policy, which was alarming because I was unaware of such at the previous school and my son was most certainly a “biter.” Most biting policies are the same: your child gets so many free bites before they are asked to leave. Now, as I said before, I never understood the anger other parents felt toward the biter and his/her parents. As every expert will tell you (and believe me, I asked), it is a phase and they just have to grow out of it. Even the new school agreed that it was a phase and would have to pass with time.
Why this policy?
I was flabbergasted. If every educated person is in agreement that this is just a phase, then why this policy? I had so much anxiety about this because I truly love the school and did not want to find alternative care for my youngest. But I kept going back to why the policy?! Then it dawned on me; it is to satisfy all those who are so angry that their little Suzy* got bit. It may not be popular opinion, but it is my opinion: if this is your belief that a child should be removed from a school because they are biting, you may need to re-evaluate the bubble and pedestal in which you place your child. They are going to get hurt; every experience is a lesson. When a child bites another child (before said child can form a sentence), it is not malicious. Your child probably snatched their toy away, and they don’t have the words to say “hey, give me that back” or something like that. Now, before you crucify me, let me explain further. I was very upset that my child was biting another child. We talked about it every day, used loud/stern voices to correct, and always did a time out. It did not work.
It’s not your fault
To all you mommas whose kids are biting other kids: you are a good mom, and it is not your fault. It is not your child’s fault either. Don’t let anyone make you feel about it. The experts are right; it is phase. Right when my son’s biting attempts were at an all time high, he actually injured his knee and was in a cast for 2 weeks with a one week recovery. He stayed home with me, and we saw a huge growth in his vocabulary. When he returned to school after being home for 3 weeks, his biting stopped. He was 19 months old. Every now and then, if his brother really annoys him, he will bite. However, that has only been two times in two months. So hang in there momma, he/she will grow out of it. And to those of you who have the child who does not bite, be thankful for what you have because it really is luck of the draw.
*the names have been changed to protect the innocent.