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June 1, 2011

Raising Hannibal

When I first imagined being a mom, my thoughts didn't stray to being a chew toy. Nor did I think my kid would be THAT CHILD, the one that other parents cringe to see in the nursery alongside little Johnny or Sue. As a naive mother, I assumed that poor parenting was always to blame for poor behavior, but little did I know that less than two years later, I would be raising my very own Hannibal.

Every weekend when we attend church, we put Nathaniel in the church-run childcare where the plastic trees, big Legos, and goldfish crackers abound. Despite my debatably unhealthy level of paranoia about leaving my child with strangers, I've become quite comfortable about parting ways with my son for an hour, knowing that if there were to be any problems, I would be immediately paged from the service.

It had been months since I had been summoned to the childcare area mid-sermon. In fact, when they flashed our number up on the screen, I wasn't sure they were even referring to my kid. But my mothering instincts took over and, as stealthily as a third-trimester mom possibly could, I slipped into the lobby.

I was met at the entrance of the kids area by a woman with an abundance of paperwork who very nicely explained to me that my kid had bitten a little girl. MY SON. BIT. A GIRL.

My only saving grace was that he hadn't broken her skin. I was absolutely mortified as I stood there holding the little criminal and trying to figure out what could have possibly brought on such terrible behavior. Had she hit him? Tried to take away his toy? Gone in for a peck on the lips?

The nursery staff invited me to leave my son in their care for the rest of the service, gently assuring me that it was just a phase and that it would pass, but I was too shaken up at that point. Unwilling to risk a second incident, I brought my cannibal out to the lobby, sat him down, and scolded him.

For the anti-discipline crowd out there who are just chomping at the bit to tell me how scolding my toddler is going to have him telling girls to PUT THE LOTION IN THE BASKET in another thirty years, I assured him afterward that mommy still loved him. BREATHE, PEOPLE.

But since that incident at church, I've been at a loss. When it comes to biting at home, my son only bites me, not his father. Because we're still newbies at this whole offspring thing, we used different discipline methods when my son started biting. Clearly, my husband's method, a firm tap on the mouth and a stern scolding, was the yellow brick road of perfect parenting. My method of simple scolding or pretending to cry when he bit me? Let's file that one under the category of EPIC FAIL.

This morning, my kid nearly took a chunk out of my chin when he threw a tantrum over the fact that I wouldn't allow him to go flying down our stairs. I imitated my husband in a way that was worthy of an Oscar and disciplined the toddler immediately. And then he bit my leg.

I don't want to be visiting my kid in a maximum security detention center later in life, but I'm running out of ideas for how to curb this newfound habit. No matter how we conquer this newest parenting dilemma though, rest assured that none of our future children will ever bear the name Clarice.


  1. O.M.G. the title just cracked me up! not that I find that movie funny at all but that part is just too bizarre. before we had kids I think all moms have an idea of how things will go. then when the babies are born, all our ideas fly out the window. thankfully, C has only bit me once but I know it could happen again. and, when it does I will scream loud enough to scare him!

  2. My son is a biter too so if you get any good tips I'd love to hear them! No amount of scolding, pretend crying, shrieking, ignoring, or redirecting helps. Thankfully he doesn't do it too often but I wish I could figure out how to stop the behavior completely! Good luck!

  3. I feel your frustration. My son (slightly younger than yours) is doing the same thing and has been doing it for MONTHS. He only (usually) bites me and we thought it was going away until I heard he was biting at daycare. I felt the exact same way you did! I've been trying to discipline him, but he won't take it at ALL from me - he just laughs in my face. (I think this is why Dad doesn't get bitten).

    I really don't want to look like a spammer, but I wrote a blog post on the biting incident at daycare that is similar to your story:

    I will say, I haven't heard any more biting-at-daycare stories since Cameron bit a little boy and the little boy whacked him on top of the head with a toy. Maybe we just gotta let the kids fight it out.

    (For the record, he still bites me).

  4. I'm not sure how I would handle this situation...however as a child I can remember my younger brother biting me. After a couple of times I got fed up with this and bit him back...he never bit me again (I got in trouble, until I showed my mom the previous bit marks). Got to love siblings!! :-)

  5. Seriously, I read you for the entertainment factor. I cannot help you with stopping Nathaniel from biting, but if he ever bites and won't let go; press his head into the bite and it will force him to let go.

  6. Alyssa, I was wondering what beach you were at with Nathaniel in your latest photo? It looks very kid friendly! I also live in the Twin Cities, just wondering if it's close to me. :)

  7. Hi Andrea! In the picture, Nathaniel and I had driven down to Burnsville- I believe the lake was called Crystal Lake. There's no lifeguard on duty, but it's extremely kid-friendly, which is why it's so much fun :)

  8. Oh my goodness! Your story cracked me up. I know too well about the days of biting. My older son bit for a while as a toddler. I bit him once (not hard enough to make marks, but enough to get attention) and he never bit again. My youngest son used to bit a lot. After trying everything I could think of, I bit him. He has stopped biting me, except for very occasionally when he's really frustrated. He bit my 11 year old daughter until I gave her permission to lightly bite him back. He hasn't bitten her since. Now, I won't give my 7 year old son permission to bite him - I just can't trust that far yet. Unfortunately he still gets bitten. Just my 2 cents, I know biting back isn't for everyone, but it seems to work for us. Good Luck.