Sunday, June 21, 2009

at least there was no blood

My son was BITTEN on Thursday at his toddler program.

Now, I know, I know, developmentally appropriate, tons of kids do it, happens all the time, and all that, but I'll tell you, when the head of the program lifted up Gabe's shirt to show me the bite and I saw a hugely swollen, hickey looking circle with teeth marks all around the outside on his sweet little innocent BACK? I could have KILLED the kid. My mother bear instincts kicked in and I could have ripped his head off.

I didn't, though, I kind of gasped and the woman tried to make it seem like it wasn't a big deal and she said that although she didn't see it happen, she heard Gabe SCREAM. Allegedly, he got over it rather quickly and now all was fine. She didn't want to tell me the culprit, but since Gabe was more than happy to spill the beans, she finally admitted who it was and said she would speak to the mother.

I went home upset, but again, I know this happens, I know it isn't a big deal, and although every time I look at his back it pains my heart, I was okay with the whole thing. Sad about the giant swollen bite mark, but understanding that this is one of those unfortunate childhood things that happens.

UNTIL, the next day, my mom goes to pick Gabe up at the end of the day and both the head of the toddler program and the biter's mom are standing in the doorway talking. As my mom is pulling on Gabe's shoes and grabbing his bag, the head of the program says to my mom (loudly), "Yes, well, we're working on Gabe not taking toys away from the other children because that is why that little tussle happened yesterday." My mom stood there gaping at her, so the director added, "Oh, but Gabe is a good boy. He's a good boy." My mom sat there stunned for a minute, until she abruptly said, "OF COURSE, he's a good boy," and then she stormed off to the car.

When she got home, I could practically see smoke coming out of her ears, she was so enraged. She couldn't believe that the woman running the program would blame the incident on Gabe, and not even MENTION the biting. If she had said they were working on taking toys away and obviously on not biting, it would have been one thing, but to talk about a toddler taking a toy away from another toddler as justification for biting seemed crazy to us.

I ended up calling the toddler program and telling the woman who runs it why we were so upset and she profusely apologized and said it wasn't her intention, it hadn't occurred to her it could be interpreted like that, and she certainly didn't think the incident was Gabe's fault. Regardless, I'm still upset and now it is Sunday night and that bite mark is still red and bruised with little teeth marks all around it (4 days later) and I'm not sure how I am going to put on a happy face tomorrow for Gabe's pick-up and drop-off. To make matters worse, tomorrow is the last day and we're having a little graduation/pot luck party for it, so I have to be social and smiley and make nice with everyone.

Ugh, parenting is hard, yo. Watching your kids get hurt and navigate the world is really hard. I can't imagine what I'll do if he comes home and tells me some kid hit him, or some girl broke his heart, or worse. Tell me you've been through much much worse and survived, please.


Beth said...

We have to fill in "incident reports" at Daisy's daycare almost weekly at the moment from a 'mystery' (they keep their identities confidential) biter (who we know as you just have to ask Daisy) but it is happening more and more often, and while I know that the two get on REALLY well, and Daisy will actually get going in the morning just on the promise of seeing this friend - it's awful to see the brusies and teeth mark which must hurt. A lot. We are trying to work out a solution with her carer - clearly the biter has issues regardless of what is leading up to the bite, (I don't think for a moment that Daisy is innocent) but it's hard and I feel/share your pain. I guess they are just being 2 year olds and trying to work it all out the only way they know how - and that includes bites and bruises and pinches along the way...

SuzyQ said...

That was so inappropriate for the director to be talking about your son to the other parent in the hallway, not to mention just being flat out wrong about blaming Gabe for it. Wow.

My Wombinations said...

I hate to side with the director of the program (and in many ways I see your point and also would be very upset by a mark like that on Sam), BUT I also think biting is so obviously inappropriate that it goes without saying that it is wrong. It is somewhat normal for kids to bite, especially when they cannot express their rage at (in this case) having something snatched from their hands.

It really does not sound to me like she was saying it was ok to bite, but rather helping the mother of the biter (who could have just as easily been you since many young children bite in response to having a toy snatched from them) feel better about what happened.

While I certainly would not ever say biting is ok, toddlers do not know how to express themselves always and if the tussle was started by a snatched toy then that is the root of the problem. This is not to say that the biting should not be addressed. But as someone who taught in Sam's preschool and has a daughter that age, that is the way I would deal with it. I am actually working on a blog post about these kinds of issues right now.

Anonymous said...

As the parent of a very sweet and very affectionate "huggie boy" who bit children everyday in his daycare from 12-18 months, and who now himself gets bitten several times weekly, I suspect the director of the program was just trying to comfort the mother of the biter and not to lay the blame on Gabe. Toddler biting is nobody's fault, as kids do it until they can verbalize their feelings and desires. But it is extremely distressing to parents, including the parents of the biter who feel so very upset that their child is hurting others and powerless to stop it. The director was almost certainly trying to help the other mother understand that her child's behavior was a developmentally normal response to a struggle over toys, and not an indication that there is something wrong with her child or with her as a parent. Now that I'm in the shoes of the parent of a child that gets bitten rather than does the biting, I make it a point to show as much compassion as possible for the parents of biters because I know just how awful they feel.

Chatty said...


I am conflicted. I think what would have popped my gaskets, much like yours popping, is the conversation about how "we're working on Gabe not taking toys away." Um, they are two. Don't all two year olds take toys when they feel like it's their turn? She may as well have said, "we're working on Gabe's putting food in his mouth" or "Gabe's blinking." I don't think taking toys is a huge ass issue, because every kid needs to learn, even the super good ultra generous genius sharing kids need to learn to share on some level. And even though biting happens (just like hitting and pushing and tantrums), biting is also completely unacceptable and the biting child needs to get that message loud and clear. I firmly believe that there is no discussion and "but (biting child) how did that make you feel when Gabe took the toy? Did it make you feel like biting him?" because biting is just NO. Lady was a hitter (admittedly, she only ever hit ME, but that's probably only because she was not in a toddler program and was home with me and so she had a lack of opportunity to hit other people). Remember when she was a hitter? And on the advice of our pediatrician the hitting lead to immediate time outs and a distinct lack of attention and sympathy because hitting, much like biting, is a NO.

I can understand the Daycare Director's want to make the biter's mother feel better because OH MY GOD to be the mother of a biter- THE HORROR. But at the same time there is a way to say to her, "it happens, kids bite and we are absolutely working on teaching other coping methods when your child is frustrated, and here is what we're doing and this might help, or talk to your pediatrician for more advice and your child is not a bad child but we are definitely working on the biting and we also totally understand it happened because your child was frustrated, the end" without bringing GABE into the conversation. There was no need for that, and I give your Mom mad props for not punching the woman on the spot because I may have.

Bottom line is: what a pain in the ass.

Rev Dr Mom said...

As the mother of now adult children, yes, I've been there, done that and it is never easy whether your child is the victim or the perpetrator. And yes, our mother-bear instincts come out. I never understood that until I went through it.

But you know what? In the end the kids--especially preschoolers-- won't remember things like this--they'll remember the good times.

The Kid was bullied terribly in sixth grade and I worried about it a lot. Yesterday we were talking about middle school, and he remarked that while he hated it while it happened, it didn't seem like such a big deal now. That doesn't make it okay, not at all, and I still think his teachers should have intervened far more than they did. And he had lots of positive influences that counteracted some of the effects of the bullying. But I am grateful that he can look back without it being traumatic.

Hope things went okay today!

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymouse 150%. I left a church because my son bit another kid in the nursery and the mother couldn't get over it!To the CRAZY mothers out there... grow up!!

Anonymous said...

My child bit for many months and we did firm "no bitings" and "time-outs" until we were all blue in the face, and nothing stopped it until, around 18 month, he started putting words together and was able to communicate "don't like it", "walk away", "no my toy" etc. The same way it's ridiculous to expect a 2 year old not to take another kid's toys, it's ridiculous to expect a toddler who can't verbalize not to bite as a form of communication. I agree with the poster who said, in the end, your child will remember the good times, not the bad. Some of the kids my son bit most badly are now his closest friends, and ironically, the kid that bites him now is one of his absolute favorites.

Anonymous said...

I always tell the students in my workshop on writing a parent handbook theat it needs "Biting is normal toddler behavior" in very large letters. So the biting itself doesn't bother me. What does is the fact that people breached confidentiality by firat confirming the name of the biter and then discussing your child with the other parent. In my stae that is a violation of the day care regulations and if you filed a complaint the center could get into real trouble. I would discuss those issues with the Director along with the question of what they are doing to help the biter learn not to bite.

Meika said...

Agh. I wrote a bit long comment that I just deleted because I just do not want to rant. In a nutshell, that sucks and I think it was handled poorly on numerous levels. Grrrr.

chris said...

Sigh... it never goes away, that mama bear instinct. It is just that the wounds aren't visible once they get older. And in some ways they are even more heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...

I can understand why you're so upset -- poor Gabe! But keep in mind that the director was have a special conversation with the biter's mother at your request, even though it was a first-time, possibly one-off incident (which may also be why Gabe came up). Also, you are feeling upset about a second-hand account of snippet of an overheard conversation. Who knows what the full scope of the conversation was?

I think you did the right thing contacting the director and speaking directly with her to clarify things. And, honestly, if this is the first time Gabe's been bitten, I'd rest assured: it's a very, very good toddler program!