We’d just sent the girls upstairs to brush teeth and put on pajamas while we finished our glasses of wine when there was a yell from upstairs: “MY MOUTH IS FILLED WITH BLOOD! THERE’S BLOOD AND BLOOD!”
What does it tell you about my bad attitude and J’s hypochondriacal tendencies that I sat back with a sigh while Cute W hustled up the stairs? Moments later W was calling down that there was, actually, quite a bit of blood.
J spit and rinsed over sink while we asked what happened. M was happy to provide the answer: “She was trying to bite my arm!” The bleeding slowed and we located a baby tooth on the floor of the hallway. Apparently it was almost–but not quite–ready to come out. Now J has a space at the front of her mouth that looks more enormous than any tooth ever could have been.
We all recovered from the adrenaline surge and agreed that it had been a little scary. “That was the karma,” I groused to Cute W. I say this all the time, because it really does seem like whenever one of my children is in the middle of doing something that’s naughty or bad, bad stuff happens to them. For example, M will say something snotty to me as we walk down the sidewalk, and then she’ll trip and fall, and I’ll tell her (with some satisfaction, it’s true) that it was the karma. Really, I’ve been meaning to read a book about karma so that I actually understand it as a spiritual concept. But, anyway.
I was grousing to Cute W because my six-year-old-who-knows-better was biting again. “Oh, no,” he defended her. “I’m sure that they were just playing.” These words were coming from a man who’d just finished gazing at a child with big brown eyes, braided pigtails, a sprinkle of freckles over her nose, and a brand-new space where her front tooth used to be.
He simply couldn’t be rational. Men are such suckers for a pretty face.
J has been a biter since before she had teeth. Tonight she was angry, but as a toddler she was more likely to bite out of sheer, exuberant affection. However, that’s not really much of a consolation. You can’t say to the mother that you barely know, “Yes, she broke the skin, but it actually means she likes your baby.” Or, you can, I guess. But then she’ll walk over to her other mommy friends and start whispering, and next thing you know, you’re not invited to the playgroup anymore.
Oh, my gosh, it was a long and horrible phase that we went through. She was a menace. Together, we were a menace. I’d warn people, I’d hover, I’d try various techniques. No: I never did bite her back. I’m just not that kind of mommy. Years later, women at my moms’ group would still talk about J’s biting. In fact, it’s quite possible that someone will read this post and it will finally click, “Oh, she’s that Katie! The one with the biter! I remember her!”
Somehow, eventually, it passed. J hardly ever bites anymore. Her general level of ardor has cooled, and now M is the one person in the world who can infuriate her enough to bite. After bedtime stories, J and I discussed The Incident. She confessed that she’d tried to bite M because she was angry. I reminded her that she needs to use her words. She replied, “I know that, but then I get so mad that I can’t remember.” Apparently, tonight M was repeatedly shaking her butt at J. This is exactly the sort of obnoxious behavior that occasionally makes me want to bite M.
It would be wonderful if, between the bloodshed and the forthcoming stern note from the Tooth Fairy, this Incident would scare J straight once and for all.
But I’m not getting my hopes up.