A bite worse than the bark - FamilyEducation

A bite worse than the bark

August 12,2008
On most days, the conversation after I pick up K-Man from school goes something like this: “What’d you do today in school, K-Man?” And he replies, “I played.” Then, in a precursor to what life will be like when he’s a teenager, we spend time prying additional details from him. Who did he play with? Did he do any art? Was there any music? And so on. Yesterday, however, the conversation was different. “What’d you do in school today, K-Man?” He replied, “E bit me.”

This wasn’t the first time that K-Man’s classmate E had bitten him. But, it was the first time that E had bitten K four different times. K-Man’s back was quite literally littered with teeth marks. The poor guy looked like he had survived a shark attack. Adding more injury to injury, K-Man’s best buddy Chuck was also bitten by E yesterday.

Upon discovering that our kids had been bitten, Chuck’s mom (we were at Chuck’s house for dinner) called the school to talk to the owner. Chuck’s mom explained what had happened and the owner was stunned. Shocked. Mortified. How could such a thing have happened? When would it have happened? Why didn’t Chuch and K-Man tell her? Then, of course, she started in with the reasoning that the teachers can’t watch all the kids all the time. And so on.

For starters, our kids are three years old. It shouldn’t really be incumbent on them (or expected, for that matter) to tell. If they start crying (and I’m certain that, after four or five bites on the back, K-Man was crying), perhaps you should go find out what happened! This is the part where I start to go nuts. This is the part when I start to overreact and start thinking about taking K out of this school. This is the part when logic goes out the window.

I know that kids will be kids. They will go through their phases when they hit, push and, unfortunately, perhaps bite. In many instances, they don’t have the words to express their feelings and frustrations, so they may bite. I get that. At the same time, it’s one of those rationalizations that you keep in the back of your head just in case it’s YOUR kid that does the biting. Instead, when your kid is the one bitten, it’s easy to forget that kids will be kids and go apoplectic. (I wasn’t really that upset; I just like the word.)

The irony (probably not the right word) is that K-Man wasn’t all that upset by it – at least not hours after the incident. Was he mad at E? Nope. Did he still like E? Yep. As parents, though, we just can’t stand the idea of our kid being bitten by another kid. Realistically, though (and I’m not sure if this is bad or not), I’d almost rather be the parent of the kid that got bitten than the parent of the kid who did the biting.

As mad as I felt that this happened (and, understand, I was more upset that the school didn’t know E had bitten K-Man than I was about the fact that E had bitten K-Man), I felt really bad for E’s parents. None of us ever want that call, “Ummmm…E bit two kids today in school. This isn’t the first time and we’ll be watching him closely from now on.”

Biting is a symptom of frustration. Of something being wrong. So, as parents, we instantly blame ourselves, right? We instantly wonder what we’re doing wrong. Why would our kid bite other kids? Why was our kid upset? With a three-year-old, we can do our best to explain that biting is bad and hope that it will take. I don’t blame E and I certainly don’t blame his parents (they are good people). It’s just a tough situation.

So, E’s bite is worse than his bark. K-Man got over it. So can I.