Sometimes being a parent really bites. Recently both of my children seem to have developed a taste for human flesh, my son being the worst offender by far. The interesting thing is that in Little Man’s case, he is not biting out of frustration as you might expect at this age. Instead, he bites when he is happy and/or excited, or sometimes just to get some one-on-one attention. Unfortunately, his bites seem to be reserved for those he loves the most in his world. Lucky me.
So yes, being a parent can be tough. But you know what else can be tough? Talking to other parents. The first few days of Little Man’s biting stage were pretty rough on this old bird. One of his favorite moves was to get super excited while we were sitting on the floor playing or reading books together, shriek maniacally with laughter, dive face-first into my lap, and chomp down as hard as he could on my inner thigh. After a day or two of this, my legs looked like I had been swimming in a pirahna tank. One sunny afternoon I took my little zombies to the park for some fresh air. Not thinking, I threw on a pair of shorts before we left. Of course, my battle scars were noticed by another woman at the park, and when I informed her of their origin, she said,”Oh NO. That would NOT fly at my house.” Really??
For whatever reason, her comment (which I’m sure she meant nothing by) really struck a nerve with me. Maybe it was because I was feeling stressed and exhausted by my increasingly mobile twins and their quirky new “hobbies.” Maybe I hadn’t had enough coffee that morning. Or maybe my panties were just in a bunch. Whatever the case, it seemed really self-rightouos and judgmental to me. I felt that it implied that shoddy parenting on my part was to blame for my son’s new proclivity. What right did this stranger have to criticize my child-rearing abilities?
How I responded: “Really? Because I give him a cookie every time he bites me.”
How I wanted to respond: “Please, oh parenting guru, please bestow your infinite wisdom upon me. Even though we are total strangers and you know nothing about me or my family, you are the best one to bring order to my obviously chaotic home life. You are right, of course. At my house we all run around like animals, growling and biting each other with abandon because I am a weak pushover as a mother and can’t keep my children in line. I let them watch HBO all day, drink soda out of bottles, and eat candy for every meal. Hell, I don’t even make them wear diapers if they don’t want to. Since your children must be incredibly easy to deal with because you have molded them into perfect little beings with your superior parenting skills, you must have plenty of extra time on your hands. Why don’t you just come on over to our house and whip us all into shape? Or better yet, I’ll just give you my babies and let you raise them for me. That would be awesome. Thanks.”
Guess what, folks! If I have learned anything from my all my work with kids and now being a parent myself, it’s that no matter how great of a parent you are (or think you are), how many books you read, or how much expert advice you follow, kids are gonna be kids. They are imperfect beings just like us and cannot be “programmed” into impeccably behaved little robots from the get-go. In short, they’re gonna do stuff you don’t like. Even if you don’t have a biter, odds are your child will have at least one flaw. Maybe he won’t sleep through the night all the time. Or be a picky eater. Or scream every time you put him in his car seat. Or any number of other frustrating behaviors. And you are going to deal with it the best way you know how. And don’t worry, if you tell me about it I won’t judge. Cuz’ we’re all in this together, folks.