I read an entertaining article yesterday by Josh Burt in Coach ( a free health mag) who was mortified and concerned that him and his wife had brought a biter into the world. I read this with amusement thinking back a few years to when we got that first note to sign at nursery to hear that our angelic first born child had bitten someone. I was horrified. Of course they don’t tell you who, so you can’t even apologise. You worry that there may be private nursery playground chat. Will there be whispers? “That’s her! The mother.” I knew she was an occasional biter as I had also been the victim of her new found teeth. Bizarrely only ever me. Being a massive Daddy’s girl he never got the slaps, bites and pinches that I seemed to fall prey too. Nothing like a little domestic violence from your child to really impact on the mountains of guilt you already feel as a working Mum because you aren’t there for most of the day.
The cause of the bite it transpires was a book, so an intellectual protective manoeuvre. I immediately felt better. She was trying to have a moment, catching up on the tales of Peppa Pig or Each Peach, Pear, Plum and another had tried to muscle in on her quiet reading time. In my mind it seemed more acceptable. It wasn’t unprovoked, it wasn’t a hate crime, just a nibble to stand her ground and in a yet unvocalised toddler world she let the other toddler know, “This is my time, this is my turn to read.” Just a week later she had been bitten back. At least she found out how it felt. Maybe it was a revenge mission who knows?
Biting around the 18 month – 2 year mark from my experience does seem to be very common. They are just finding their words, are frustrated that they can’t make themselves completely understood, are still dealing with the concept of sharing and ownership and are learning to deal with emotional overload.
Most parents I know have had that moment when their frustrated, teething child sinks their teeth into the skin near your collar bone. Or sinks their teeth into the back of your leg while standing by the kitchen sink. My immediate reaction is a loud curse, not fit for children, before I hastily calm myself and have that quiet, reasonable chat with her about how biting is inappropriate and a little time out on the naughty step ensues.
Less than 24 hours after I read the forementioned Coach article, I picked up my daughter at lunchtime to sheepish looks from the nursery staff. I guessed straight away that there had been an incident and I was expecting to hear that my little terror, second born so more scope for rogueness, may have had a nibble, but it wasn’t her.
She had been bitten. These things happen, no doubt it wouldn’t be the first or last. I was seasoned to the biting toddler. She thrust her chubby, squishy 20 month arm at me and I was expecting to see a vague faded red mark but instead she presented me with this!
They were quick to add it was an unprovoked attack, she had been playing with magnets, minding her own business when the attacker pounced. They even took it a step further to say she is so sweet they can’t believe that anyone would want to bite her. Mmmm the jury is out on that one, I’ve had my moments! Plus as I well know the biteee may became the biter in a matter of days. However how long must he have been chewing on her arm to leave her with this?? (It was a he, a slip made by staff before they hastily retracted it to “the child”. ) We headed home with Little R continuing to wave the offending arm at me with a repetitive “Mummy look, Mummy Look.”
Raised and sore looking it left no teeth marks like a regular bite. This resembled more of a love bite. Was it very young love? Well if so he was a bit of a player, or he was playing a numbers game as I heard she wasn’t special. She was in fact one of 3 that had fallen prey to his tendencies. The under 2 year old had truly gone on a zombie like rampage. Maybe nursery just don’t feed them enough? Litte R woke this morning, pulled up her pyjama arm and thrust her arm at me again. I think she’s secretly quite proud of it. Her first hickey!
So my final words to parents in the anonymous, written accident form world of nursery and toddler warfare, don’t worry, it happens and I send my apologises for the bites and forgive your little ones for chewing on my daughters. However if they are still chewing on my children’s arms at the age of 4 plus I may not be quite so forgiving.