I don’t remember being two years old. I don’t remember the frustration or the disappointment that comes with being no longer a baby but not yet a big kid.
It’s really no wonder two year olds seem to have such a short fuse or a finicky attitude sometimes – what with all the new sounds and words and people and experiences coming straight at their heads nonstop. Not really able to communicate or articulate what they need or want – or don’t want. Frustrated that we crazy grownups just don’t seem to understand.
Think about how much adults welcome change or anything out of the ordinary. Now remove several layers of maturity and 16+ years of learned patience and self control. Yeah. Two year olds.
Sometimes I’m glad I don’t remember being two. But lately I wish I did. Lately, I would do almost anything to get inside his head and really, really understand.
My kid bites.
And I wish I knew why.
We have theories. Lots of them. He was a late talker so he’s found a different way to communicate… He doesn’t fuss or cry or have fits very often, but has to get his feelings out somehow… He just kinda likes to be left alone sometimes and the other kids don’t always get that message… He gets a lot of attention at home and craves that kind of attention at school…
Who knows? The fact is – he bites. And we’ve tried everything we can think of to try. We’ve been told it’s perfectly normal toddler behavior. We’ve been told it’s a phase. We’ve been told it’s usually a two-sided issue, meaning there’s a two year old on either side of that bite — and sometimes Colt’s “normal two year old behavior” was provoked by other “normal two year old behavior”.
We talk to him about it till we’re blue in the face. About why we don’t bite our friends and what we should say or do if someone takes our toys. And that biting hurts.
But let me explain something. Biting does hurt. And while one kid goes home with a mark that will be gone by tomorrow, my kid comes home with an unfair stigma to share with his heartbroken parents.
The whole situation is just as hard on us as it is on the other parents. Maybe worse. It is painful to know that my child is being perceived as anything less than the sweet, kind, curious, playful little boy that he is. Every time I have to sign an incident report when I pick him up from school I think about two things: I wonder what happened, what he may or may not have tried to communicate before he resorted to biting. And I think about what the other parents are thinking. I wonder if they are understanding. And patient. And compassionate. After all, they have a two year old, too, right? I try to put myself in their shoes. I try to imagine what I would feel like if the tables were turned. I like to think I would be that understanding, patient, compassionate parent I am so desperately hoping they are.
But I have no idea. I don’t know what it’s like to sign the other half of that incident report and stare at a bruise on my baby’s arm. I don’t know what it’s like to hear my child come home with stories of who bit him and why. I only know what it’s like on this side. The side of the biter.
And it probably sounds cliche. Why WOULDN’T I stick up for my own kid? Of COURSE I think it’s hard on this side of the coin. Naturally, I’m going to get all ‘Mama Bear’ on everyone involved.
But I’m not condoning biting. I don’t care how “normal” it is – it’s universally… unpleasant. And I’m certainly not encouraging it. We want him to stop as much as anybody. More.
I don’t think about it in the same terms laid out in the handbook. There’s no “child who bit” or “child who was bitten”. They are children. And one of them is mine.
I’m not defending a bully, and I’m not sidestepping responsibility. There are truly two sides to everything — and both “sides” of this ugly situation happen to be precious to someone. I’m not sticking up for my kid, the biter. I’m sticking up for my kid, the kid.