Tuesday, March 1, 2011

He bites.

This will be one of those posts that is difficult to write, and scary to publish.

The wee one likes to stick his fingers places they are not welcome i.e. eyes, ears, noses, and mouths.

Twice now, the big boy allowed the wee one a thorough examination of his mouth, but then unfortunately, something in his toddler mind shifted and he bit down hard on my baby's tiny, fat fingers.

Both times I have been within arm's reach, and had no idea what was going on. One minute they're cozily giggling and the next minute there's a horrible screech and that wail that tells me the baby is hurt, and hurt badly.


Twice that horrible cry of pain, and that crippling, sinking feeling in my stomach.

There was a brief moment when I thought perhaps he'd broken his finger - so awful were the bite marks.

Twice I've yelled at the biting 3-year-old, sent him to his room in an inappropriate rage. The mama lion roaring inside of me - you hurt my baby.

Now I hover over the two of them, unable to turn my back for an instant.
"Don't touch him."
"Get away from him."
"Leave him alone."

I drag the baby with me everywhere - afraid to let him out of my line of sight for a second. How could I let this happen? Twice.

If I were a better mother, my son would know not to bite his defenseless baby brother.

If I were a good mother, I would have stopped the mouth exploration before it turned to biting. I would not have been distracted, relishing in a moment of peaceful playing between two siblings.

I am a bad mother, a lazy mother.  And now my selfish inattention has hurt my baby.

I cannot keep my children safe, even from each other. My most important job in the world, and I dropped the ball.

I do not post this so that you beloved folks will say, "It's okay Melissa - you're a good mom. Accidents happen" in some sad attempt to bolster my self esteem. I post this because like everything else I put out here - it's how I feel. And right now I'm feeling like a pretty worthless mama.


  1. New reader here. I had biting horrible-ness with my daughter when she was 2, but at daycare. Another boy bit her up and down her arms - like 20 times - and there were full mouth/teeth bruises. It was awful. I wanted to hurt and punish the offender. He wasnt my child - so nothing - no punishment - no nothing. I did "speak" to the mother, and the daycare worker - and removed her from that daycare promptly. Made me feel like I hadnt protected her the way a mom should. Daycare is bad enough - now she was being brutalized there. Ugh. I understand how you feel.

  2. Thank you Jennie - I don't know what's worse than watching your child suffer.

  3. Oh man, if anyone, even my own kid did that to Maeve, I don't know how I'd react, but it would be massively unpleasant.

    Melissa- so sorry your lil fella got hurt. Siblings hurt each other - may this, right now, be the worst of the damage your boys do to each other. Awful though it is, I'd rather my brother bit my finger than broke my heart... again.

  4. MM - yeah "massively unpleasant" just about sums up my reaction. I'm sorry about your brother - that sounds pretty awful.

  5. I truly, honestly believe that this wasn't a result of something that you have or have not done. This is a phase...that's all. I know it's horrible, I hate the feeling that I get when I find out one of the boys have hurt the other. It's not your fault. ((hugs))

  6. These dang boys. I didn't write this in my original post about Owen's ear, but Josh was the culprit - he pushed O, which caused him to fall against the coffee table. Horrible. I was ripping mad. My husband and his brother chucked rocks at each other when they were kids resulting in numerous trips to the ER for stitches, so I blame his genes. I wish I understood why siblings hurt each other (my step-mom's brother pierced her hand with a pair of scissors! Now this guy is the most gentle person I know...it amazes me to this day that he did that) Anyway, it happens. This mommy/child gig is a marathon, not a sprint. The boys will probably be best friends someday.

    Not easy on mommy, though. Thinking of you!

  7. Oh Melissa, I wish I could come over there and give you a hug! Being a Mom is so hard some days and delightful on others. You can't be everywhere at once and your boys are still very young. It will get better! I hope you have a great day!

  8. THK - thank you
    Tonya - I hope you're right, thanks
    YA - thank you
    I really appreciate the comments, guys - you make me feel a LOT better.

  9. My two year old son has been attacking his older brother since the day he came home. Honestly, he would claw at his face if his brother put it in the carseat too close. Neither of them are angry or hitting type of kids, but they are boys...and they are brothers. So, every so often, they go at it. I think you probably reacted just fine, so long as you didnt hit your son and dont hold a grudge, and make it clear it isnt acceptable.

    Jessica, Sacramento, CA US

  10. There are about a thousand times during the day when I'm in a rage about my boys beating each other up.

    *Just as I was typing that, my 3 year old clothes-lined my 17 month old.*

    I know they're too young to understand, but they're both my babies, and I flip out when they get hurt from someone else, even their own brother. I think it's common with boys, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier!

  11. Please don't be too hard on yourself about this! And even though you don't want the pat on the back, I'm going to give it to you anyway whether you like it or not. You're doing a great job and the fact that your three-year-old bit your baby isn't a reflection on your parenting skills--it's just another one of those joyful childhood phases. And I think you are handling it as well as you possibly can!

  12. Jessica - Thanks - it's the same here - other than the biting my 3 yr old is a totally sweet kid - I think that's why I was so shocked.
    NHG- Thank you for making me laugh, I totally needed that
    L - Thanks, I totally feel like any misbehavior on their part is a reflection on my piss-poor parenting, but you're probably right and this is yet another unpleasant phase... Thank you for the pat :)

  13. Goodness, it happens in our home with all girls. Just today I thought I could buy myself some time while allowing my three year old to play beauty salon with our sixteen month old. I was reading emails, typing long responses. Then the stab in the eye with a comb. Then the hair tie choking event. Ahh, we do what we can. I've read your other posts and I can say with certainty, you're an awesome mommy.

  14. hon I fear all too often you judge your value and worth on your kids behavior. while part of this is true, they are a reflection of us, some of this is just plain old normal behavior. some kids go through a biting phase, some kids don't listen at swimming class, some kids cry in new situations. while we'd all love it if our kid was the one that didn't bite or behaved like an angel, when they don't it's not a reflection on us as bad parents when it's normal developmental behavior. there's a big diff from him biting his kid bro who's stuck and poked him a million times than from the kid who bit another kid 20 times up the arm. it's still not great, but it's def normal. don't put so much pressure on yourself or the boys when they aren't perfect lovey. they're just kids and they're made to screw up that's how they learn no matter how well you tech them. love you to pieces! Arae

  15. I could say all kinds of things about how you're quite obviously NOT a bad mama, but I hope you know that. Instead, I'll say how much I appreciate your sharing the real moments of motherhood, rather than just the cheery happy ones that represent you at your very best. I know I have plenty of bad mama moments of my own, and it's always encouraging to know I'm not the only one!