One of the teachers at Mini’s school took me aside the other afternoon to inform me of a biting “incident” involving Mini and “another child.” Apparently, Mini had a tricycle and the other kid wanted it, so the other kid bit Mini. Which is a totally reasonable way of handling frustration and jealousy. Who hasn’t thought about going up to Dooce at the next blogging conference and just gnawing on her arm until she hands over her contract with Federated Media? I mean, if I had a dime for every time somebody tells me –
Wait. What the fuck am I talking about? BITING?! Couple things: who the fuck bites a kid over a tricycle? Is Mini going to school with Mike Tyson? There are like forty tricycles at that school! They have more tricycles than kids, for Pete’s sake! Also, what do you mean by saying that “Mini got a bite”? Am I to believe that he was just walking around and whoops! — hey Mini, look at that — you got a bite! Is there no ownership of the person taking the bite out of the other person’s arm? Is it something that just “happens” in a vacuum, sans free will? Am I to expect, then, that Mini’s explanation for a potty training related accident is going to be something like, “Well, Mommy, let’s just say that mistakes were made”?
The teacher explained to me that, at this age, kids don’t know how to handle frustration. This was also super valuable information for me to have about toddlers. Because with Mini, he’s pretty much always a paradigm of patience and well-controlled expectations. This is particularly true when you use terms like “bedtime,” “diaper change” or “No, you’re not getting that toy.” But I guess most toddlers aren’t as into Buddhist self-actualization as Mini is.
The teacher handed me a “Band-Aid Bulletin” describing the incident and the care that was taken of Mini in its aftermath. The thing is, it was about a year ago that Mini bit me (looks like the shoe is on the other foot now, eh, Mini?). I was pretty freaked out about it at the time, but it turns out that if you freak out about it enough, they kid stops doing it. Who knew? Maybe I should let this other kid’s parents in on this super fantastic parenting technique upon which I’ve stumbled — oh yeah, they don’t tell you who the other kid is. They don’t tell you who the kid who was also involved on that happenstance occasion in which Mini “got a bite,” I suppose so that you don’t go bullying the other parents or become biased against the other kids. Well, tough for them. Because I’ve watched enough Criminal Minds to know what to look for here, and I am way ahead of the game. I’ve been running profiles on these kids since day one and advising Mini which ones to stay away from for weeks. But just to check that my profiling skills were up to snuff, I checked with Mini:
“Mini, did you get an owie?”
“Somebody bit you? Did it hurt?”
“Yeah. Hurt. Bite. Rulliver.”
“Wait, who did it?
“Rulliver. Bite. NO BITE MY ARM.”
“Oliver? Was it Oliver?”
“I KNEW IT.”
“Mini, remember how Oliver’s dad came in the other day and told the teacher that Oliver had thrown a knife at his sister?”
“And I whispered to you, ‘Stay away from that kid, Mini.’”
“Well, what happened?”
“Rulliver bite my arm. I DON’T LIKE THAT.”
“I know! That’s why you’ve gotta stay away from Oliver, OK?”
“And if it ever happens again, what do you say?”
“NO BITE MY ARM, RULLIVER. I DON’T LIKE THAT.”
Listen, you can talk all you want about the everyone’s equal and everyone makes mistakes crap with toddlers but sometimes you’ve got to go with your gut. And my gut says, kid who throws a knife at his sister is trouble. I’ve spent time with this kid, and I don’t think he gets enough attention or something, because he’s already shown that he’s jealous of some of the kids in the class in various ways. So it’s not like I’m not sympathetic. But we’re talking about my baby here — you don’t get a second chance to bite my baby.