My son has his first crush. Her name is Stella, and he has shown his love by biting her… twice. Let me set the scene.
My 17 month old, Griffin has been in a “mommy and me” class since he was 3 months old, with the same children. We meet once a week, in a room in Sherman Oaks. The room has padding under the carpet, all the outlets are covered, and it’s filled with toys. In other words, it’s a place where I can sit back, socialize, listen to parenting tips from our baby guru, Jackie and not have to watch my son’s every.single.move. It’s bliss….at least it was.
Last month, while giving one of his signature, slobbery kisses, Griffin clamped his teeth down on sweet Stella’s back. She screamed, I gasped, her mom rushed to comfort her, and Griffin and I retreated to the corner, like outcasts. I felt like I did the first day of 7th grade, awkward, isolated, friendless. I imagined all the fellow moms shaking their heads at my barbaric child. I was sure I saw them pull their babies away as Griffin tried to rejoin the play group. Of course, this was all in my head. These moms are my friends, and they know my sweet boy, Griffin is just that…sweet.
Stella stopped crying, class went on and Griffin, er I recovered. That was until the next week, when Griffin bit Stella AGAIN! I couldn’t believe it. This time, my husband was there to witness it because I had to work. When he called me to tell me what happened, I broke into tears. I know, I know, I was being irrational. Biting, hitting, spitting, poking, pulling…are all normal behaviors for toddlers, just not MY toddler. I envisioned friends cancelling play dates, Griffin sitting alone on the playground, being picked last for t-ball, not getting a date to the prom, growing old, all alone…
I then googled “toddler biting” and read that young children often do this when a situation changes in their life; a divorce, a new sibling, or a move. None of these were applicable to our family. I also found an article that said toddlers bite when they don’t feel loved. Boy, did that bring the water works. The next day, I called Jackie, my mommy and me instructor. She assured me that Griffin was not unloved, out of control, or a mas murderer in training. She told me that he was not able to convey his emotions with words, so he did it with his body, or in this case, his teeth. His bite was likely a “love bite”, meant to get Stella’s attention. I gotta hand it to my kid, he got what he wanted. Stella had a bruise on her back for a week. I’d call that an attention getter.
We are now working on Griffin’s biting, and he is getting much better. Last week, he didn’t try to bite a single kid! Success. As I navigate this new parent thing, I know that I will face more hurdles, as Griffin grows, and becomes his own individual, with likes (Stella), dislikes (nap time), wants (toys), and needs (love). I made a promise to myself that I will try not to overreact, and forgive him for his missteps, as I hope he does with me (will he remember that time I left him on the bed and he rolled off, landing on his head?).
Next up, Griffin’s new habit of hitting his head on the floor when we take a toy away. I am not even going to google that one…