Thursday, September 13, 2012

Is that a bite mark?!

Every time my daughter goes off to daycare, I send up a prayer so that her hours away from me will be safe and pleasant. But a couple of months ago, one particular day was far from pleasant.  My daughter became an innocent victim of an attack that unfortunately happens often at daycare.

After work one day, I went to pick up my daughter from daycare, which is a part of my regular routine. I entered her classroom, and one of the daycare providers said, “Nandi had an accident today, and you need to sign a form.” I’m thinking she messed up her clothes from a leaky diaper – but no, it was worse than that. When I rushed over to my child, her back was turned toward me, so I called her name and she turned around. Looking at her chubby cheeks, I almost started to cry. Her left cheek was slightly swollen and red, with two bite marks that had broken the skin. She looked happy and relieved to see me, and all I could do was pick her up and wrap her in my arms.

Another daycare provider ran over with a form for me to sign, while explaining how the biting incident happened. Then she said, “Oh, is this your first biting incident?” Her casualness stunned me. She vaguely told me that biting incidents happen often, especially at daycare.

After a little online research, I found that biting is considered normal behavior for children under the age of three – it’s a way for them to express their frustration and anger. Well, the daycare assured me that they would address the culprit and her parents, and that it wouldn’t happen again.

When my husband got home, he was livid. “It better not happen again. Nandi needs to take some self-defense classes. The next time someone gets in your face, you need to slap them!” While my husband ranted, I couldn’t stop kissing and hugging my little princess. She probably thought her parents were losing their minds.

Not to cause animosity amongst parents, daycare providers never tell you who the biter is; they just reassure you that the situation will be handled appropriately. One of the daycare workers, however, pulled me to the side one day so she could whisper the culprits name in my ear. I acted as if it were shocking news. But little did she know, thanks to the eye in the sky (my loving mother watching Nandi via internet from her computer in Colorado), my husband and I already knew who the little bully was. The daycare worker went on to tell me that she’d keep an eye on Nandi to make sure she remained safe.

Well, it didn’t take Nandi long to learn her own form of self-defense techniques. Whenever the biter came near her, she’d take off running. Then a few weeks later, my mom told me that my baby girl wasn’t running anymore. Whenever another baby invaded her space, she’d push them away.

As Nandi continues to grow before my eyes, I know there will be more “accidents” that she’ll be involved in.  Some will leave scars and others will make her stronger as she learns from each experience. I’ve noticed lately when she hurts herself, she’ll pout, run to me and wait for me to “kiss it and make it better.” Yes, she knows that Mama (and Daddy) love her beyond words, and we’ll do everything in our power to keep her safe. And in her little world, that’s all that matters.

Chandra is a Sr. Public Relations Specialist for Texas Health Resources and Mom to strong-willed Nandi who will have a new sibling in January.

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