My two-year-old daughter Bridget has a problem with biting people.
Maybe I shouldn’t say she has a problem with biting, since she’s actually quite good at it, but the rest of us are definitely having problems with toddler attacks.
Like the other day, when I was standing on the porch, minding my own business. Bidgie was standing next to me, apparently content, when suddenly seized with cannibalistic frenzy.
She grabbed the side of my thigh with both fists before chomping down hard, like I was an enormous vertical turkey leg and she was the tiny Henry VIII, hellbent on conquering it.
“OWWWW!” I screamed, scrambling to unclasp her jaw.
Look, parent or not, your first instinct when something chomps into your thigh is to smack it off of you as fast as possible. But you’re not supposed to do that, because answering violence with violence is supposed to beget more violence, according to all the parenting manuals I’ve recently been consulting.
In fact, you’re not even supposed to yell at them, or scare them, or take any drastic actions in response to being bitten. So I did the only thing left I could think of: spin around in comedy circles, as fast as I could, until the 3-foot Viking attached to my leg flew off. It must have looked ridiculous.
My four-year-old daughter Brontë saw the whole thing, however, and wasn’t amused. “BRIDGE-JIT!” she yelled. “Mommy and Brontë are NOT for eating! Eating us is NOT OKAY!”
Bridget didn’t appreciate the input. She gave her big sister a cold, hard stare while being marched off to yet another time out.
Nor did she forget the slight. Less than an hour after Bridget’s parole, I was cleaning up the kitchen when I heard Brontë’s ear-shattering scream. Running into the dining room, I saw Brontë sitting in a chair, flailing her arms, as Bridget clamped down on her shoulder.
“NO! YOU DO NOT BITE PEOPLE!” I screamed (which was a lie, since she was literally biting someone as I said it). Alright, so yelling is supposed to be a no-no, even though Bridget immediately dropped her sister’s shoulder out of her mouth, being startled at my volume, if not my accuracy.
“YOU DO NOT BITE YOUR SISTER!” I insisted again, against all evidence to the contrary. Bridget looked me straight in the eye, beaming, before exploding into maniacal giggles.
“Back into time-out!” I said firmly, while grabbing Bridget’s hand and heading back to her room. Bridget’s face collapsed into disappointment, as though I’d failed to appreciate the greatest joke of the century.
I returned to inspect the angry bite-mark etched into Brontë’s shoulder. This thing was detailed. A forensic scientist could probably use it to work out the responsible party. “I’m sorry she bit you,” I told her.
“It’s okay. It was an accident.”
I hugged her, wondering if she knows what “accident” means and admiring her ongoing reluctance to sell out her sister. I’m relieved Bridget didn’t break the skin, though it looks like she came pretty close.
“Bridget needs to quit trying to eat us.” I tell her, hoping some humor will help.
“Yes, because eating us isn’t nice.” Brontë says. She thinks for a moment before adding, “But maybe her really hungry. Maybe she needs to more chocolate in our house.”