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Once Bitten…

September 27, 2010
Well, it appears the inevitable has happened.  Last night, when I got home from work, my sweet 15 month-old boy ran to me for his hugs and kisses and tickles and, yeah, some boob-time too.  All of which I gladly gave him.  But even as I cuddled, I noticed a distinctive looking mark on his sweet, fat little forearm.  A thin, red, ring stood out against his baby skin.
“Masa?” I said, “Did you get a boo-boo slip?” (the daycare provides a slip each time a kid gets any sort of bump or scratch. It lets us know what happened and how they treated it.)  Masa said “yep.” And followed it with words no parent of a child in day care ever wants to hear.

“He got bit.”

Someone bit my child.  Sure it was another kid.  A sweet, chubby, bumbling toddler similar to himself, not knowing what he or she was doing, really; not having that fine-tuned self-control that will come later.  A baby, essentially.  Innocent.

“Who was it?!!?!” I gasped, knowing full well that they don’t divulge that information. No doubt to protect the poor toddler from mama bear instincts like mine. There’s a whole section in the handbook about biting and how it’s handled.  They won’t say who the biter is, but they do tell the parents of the biter and if the problem can’t be corrected, he or she is o. u. t. out.

So that, of course, leaves us to our own investigative devices.  “Do you think it was Billy*?” I asked.  He’s a behemoth child a few months younger – and several inches taller – than Gus, who is petite.  He’s always sort of struck me as a big dumb animal… well, you know, as much as a one-year-old can.  Masa doubted it: “Nah, Billy’s a follower.  I don’t think he’d fight over a toy.  I don’t think he’s smart enough.  I bet it was that Jimmy! I never trusted the look of that kid! Plus, whoever it was has a full set of teeth.  I’m going to check them out tomorrow.”  I can just see him, too, surreptitiously looking into each child’s mouth counting teeth, comparing the imprint on Gus’ arm.  I couldn’t shake the mental image of a loner child, huddled in the corner with crazy eyes.  Possibly foaming at the mouth.  Triumphantly clutching some hard-won fire engine or ball.

We asked Gus several times who the perp was, but for whatever reason (perhaps because he can’t?) he wasn’t talking.

All things considered, I guess I’d rather have my child be the bitten than the biter.  And not just because I don’t want to have to find another day care provider, although THAT would suck.  There’s a certain shame in being the parent of the biter, I think.  A certain inability to meet the eyes of your child’s victims’ parents.  A vague sense of dread each time you see a social situation unfolding at the park or at a play date.  As parents of the bitten, however, we have righteous indignation on our side.  We have the moral high-ground from which to hold our heads up high and demand – DEMAND! – to know who did this to our beautiful innocent boy!

A dignity only slightly tarnished by furtive glances into the tiny mouths of two-foot-high persons of interest.

*names have been changed to protect the innocent.  And also the vicious biter… whomever that may be.

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