Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bite My Kid Once ...

So Munch has been bitten at daycare, by the same girl, twice in one week.

The first time it happened, near the end of the day last Friday, they called to tell me that the girl bit him on his cheek. HIS CHEEK! His perfect plump pink cheek.

I admit, I freaked a little in the form of calling the doctor to find out if I needed to beware of anything special. The daycare director assured me no skin was broken except a tiny little spot. (I of course pictured Hannibal Lector-esque chunks being gnawed from Munch's face.) The doctor said to put some Neosporin on it and likely it would heal quickly--the only other thing to worry about would be viral infections like HIV or hepatitis. No biggie. O_O But only then if there was a deep gash and of course the kid would have to be infected herself and the chances of that blah blah blah.

I did not cry--wow, huh? I didn't panic! The first time he came home from school, around 5 months old, with a cut on his neck, likely from a fingernail or piece of jewelry, I sobbed. Because, of course, I can't protect him. In that moment I felt like I couldn't protect him from ANYTHING.

And I'm proud to say that I've come far in almost 2 years and even the fact that my poor little boy had his face gnawed off didn't really faze me. (I exaggerate--his face was bruised, but only a little, from the bottom teeth.) I get it--shit happens. Kids get hurt. And the cutest thing was that Munch could tell me who did it, while pinching his cheek, and then told me the kid got timeout.

Apparently she has a bit of a biting problem, recently bit her brother, etc. I kissed Munch's cheek, rested assured that the girl has all her shots, and let it go.

Until yesterday afternoon. When I got to daycare and discovered an angry red circle on Munch's forearm. From the same girl.

This time, I got out of there and cried in the car. I told Munch, "Mommy's going to cry for a few minutes." Because I don't like to cry in front of him. I kissed his arm, he told me again about how the girl had bit him, this time pinching his arm. And I let it overwhelm me.

It seemed TOO MUCH. Now, I had to worry that my kid would be bitten, harmed, hurt, every day. Once, I can understand that things happen. But TWICE within DAYS??

I spoke at length to the daycare director. He said that at this age, biting is more about communication than aggression. This girl doesn't know how to express her frustration or desire, so she bites it out. It's also possible that Munch and this girl have grown to be close enough friends that she feels comfortable biting him to let him know what she wants. (This seemed a bit like, whaaa? but then when you think she bit her brother, maybe.)

Indeed, this girl and Munch have known one another almost their entire lives--she came to the infant room soon after Munch, and they've been together, give or take a couple months, ever since. Their nap mats are placed next to one another and I'm told they both wake up early and talk together about the signs listing the ABCs and beloved shapes like diamonds and triangles.

So the first order of business for the daycare, besides talking extensively with her parents, will be to separate Munch and the girl--after all, biting is about proximity. In both biting instances, they were both wanting the same object--a puddle in the first instance, a truck in the second. So they'll create some distance and see if she moves on to bite someone else--I guess at that point, they'll know it's more of an overarching problem, rather than a specific one. (I believe it's the former, but.)

Look, I know this is not a bad kid. And if I'm being honest, I'd probably prefer to be dealing with "the bitten" than "the biter." I have a 2 year old, I know they do things you want them to stop but for the life of you can't get them to. I know that if Munch was leaving teeth impressions on his classmates, I would spend many a night crying myself to sleep and worrying constantly over what to DO, how to FIX IT. I'm sure her parents are embarrassed and feeling tense.

But. My sole responsibility is ensuring that MY kid is happy and healthy at his daycare, the place where he spends as much time as I do at work. And it's the daycare's responsibility to ensure that ALL of their children's needs are being met.

So this will be a situation I monitor closely. The good thing is, Munch is getting much better about actually telling me what's happening. So much guess work is disappearing, and that's a comfort.


  1. Kristin, I hear your frustration and your worry. Little C was bit over SEVEN times in a month at his old daycare. Never once instigating it and never once biting anyone else. Turns out, it was an aggression issue and not simple communication. The parents were not being helpful and in the end, the child was asked to leave the daycare. It was awful. I was so upset and nervous that C didn't feel safe being there. Furthermore, I was nervous about learned behavior and whether or not C would start biting others. Turns out, once the kid was removed all the biting stopped and peace was restored! ;) Hubs and I had a number of discussions with the director and it got to the point that we were seriously going to switch centers if there was no resolution. The director felt so bad that they would have honored our current tuition because the new center's was higher. We were impressed with their efforts and so relieved when it was all over! Good luck! I hope it doesn't happen again.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience--I know this is a common thing, not that that makes it easier! I can't believe Little C was bitten 7 times!! That's awful. I do wish I could OBSERVE the girl, because she doesn't strike me as aggressive; I guess the parents are very embarrassed, and I know the mom a little bit, so I hope they'll be willing to work with the daycare. Believe me, I will be following up! And the option to leave is definitely on the table, though I certainly don't want to--really because then I feel like it's MUNCH who is being punished for another kid's behavior. I just don't want him bitten again; if she bites another kid, hopefully that'll show there's more of an issue. But it all depends on the teachers being completely honest with the directors etc etc. This family has three kids in the center, so I'm always a little cynical about that--they wouldn't want to lose three tuitions. However, the director assured me they've dealt with situations like this successfully in the past. Just a "wait and see" situation, which I HATE!

  2. We've been on both ends of this, and Baguette gave worse than she's ever gotten. We felt horrible, and talked to the director to make sure the other child was okay, and also about the circumstances that might have contributed and what we could do going forward to help Baguette find other ways to express herself.

    Fortunately it hasn't happened again--she and her classmates seem to have grown out of that phase--but just to be on the safe side, we keep her home the day after Halloween (which is when the incident happened). Halloween is a big day at school and in our neighborhood, and we feel like Baguette needs a day to "recover" from the stimulation.

    1. That sounds very smart. Munch's class is EXTREMELY rowdy, so I think overstimulation happens a lot. The mark was largely gone this morning. I've heard that biting is a very, very tough thing to stop, and I just pray my stubborn Munch doesn't start up! What did you guys try with Baguette?