My little vampire

I don’t like being bitten. Shocking, I know. And I have a child who, for lack of a better word, is a biter. But not an aggressive, angry one. He seems to bite out of love. And therein lies the complication.

Let me back up a bit. Our son has a previous history of biting, but nothing that serious. We went through a phase where he started biting me while nursing. Not only did that hurt, but it totally stressed me out. It just sucked. I had to willingly offer one of the most sensitive parts of my body everyday to someone who was almost certain to bite it. And then grin at me like it was funny. He even started looking up at me right before he did it, almost as if he was seeing if he could get away with it. It was like offering my nipple to a piranha three or more times a day.

He did grow out of that, but nursing ended not too long after anyway. He would occasionally bite our fingers when we brushed his teeth or our hands, but it was never a big problem and it was limited to my husband and me.

Until the day my child decided to go all Twilight in playgroup. We went on a playdate with some friends from his music class. It was at the playscape at the mall and everything was going perfectly at first. However, we were already not having a good morning. We had to get up early and rush, which I, and I suspect Max, do not like to do. Furthermore, I had lost my patience with his squirming on the changing table and broken a sweat putting him in his carseat at 10 in the morning.

We get to the playscape and it is absolutely full of kids, older kids, despite the fact that the sign very clearly says it is only for children under 1. Plus, all of the parents are wearing shoes and it says no shoes! Grr. Anyway, Max apparently became excited and overwhelmed and started biting everyone. EVERYONE. First, his little friends, then their caregivers, then kids we didn’t know. He even tried to bite adults we didn’t know, but I managed to stop him. I was so blindsided and embarrassed. Thank goodness, his friends’ nanny and mom had seen him behave perfectly in music class for the previous seven weeks.

I cried buckets after we got home, from stress and worry and goodness only knows what else. He has continued to bite too much since then, although not with the frequency of that day. He is getting better, but I feel guilty, because I flinch too often when I see his mouth headed towards any part of my body. Or even just his head. I try so hard to wait and let him make contact and only pull away if he actually bites, but I just can’t sometimes. It’s an involuntary reaction and very hard to control. It’s natural to flinch away if you think someone is going to bite you, right?? But I think it is his way of kissing and showing affection and I am terribly afraid he feels rejected when I flinch away or nudge him away. I have gotten better and, ironically, he bit me kind of hard on the jawline when I was putting him to bed tonight (I was overwhelmed with love and hugged and kissed him tightly and he responded in his own unique way.) and that made me less afraid of the biting. Still, I wonder if damage has been done. We show him so much love and affection and he does not act like he feels rejected, but I worry about what goes on in that little head of his.

Does it make you a bad mom to not want to be bitten? Surely not. Heck, it’s gotten to where sometimes I’m excited when I see his teeth headed towards my skin, so I can give him a chance to show affection without biting. I want to not worry about biting. Just let whatever happens happen and handle the problem when and if it happens. I want to do that with pretty much everything else, too.

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