Lauren got bit at school yesterday. I know it's really common for kids to bite at that age (my youngest brother regularly chomped on my other brother for a good year or so when they were 2 and 3), but this was completely unprovoked and not the first time this kid bit someone at school. They won't, of course, tell us who it is, but I’m referring to him as Marv Albert for reasons that will become clear in a moment. Lauren was sitting at the table eating her snack and he (let’s assume it's a boy) grabbed her by the arm, threw her down on the floor and bit her on the back. Since it was through her shirt it didn't break the skin but was still pretty bad. You can still see it today. The school said he's in the "final stages" of being dealt with for this so we know it's happened before, but it sounds like they won't kick him out unless it happens again. So, perhaps I have yet another phone call from the director to look forward to, telling me that my child’s been snacked on again by Marv. And if not me, some other parent’s going to get that call.
I just want to know what the policy/procedure is, what have they done so far and what are they doing to prevent it from happening again. And if it does happen again, what happens to the biter? Does he get thrown out of school? I know they can’t possibly kick every kid who bites out of school – at this age, you’d have to kick out half the class. They all do it eventually. Who knows? My kid could easily be the biter next time instead of the bitee. So maybe that’s why I’m not as upset about it as others might be. I see it as one of those things that happens – a lot – and certainly won’t be the last bad thing that happens to her at school or somewhere else when we’re not around. On the other hand, she must’ve been terrified when it happened, and I wasn’t there to make her feel better. And that is upsetting.
In a larger sense, though, I think this is about my parenting philosophy in general. And it’s at least partially a gender thing – if she were a boy, I’d probably be more freaked out (“oh, my poor little man!”). As her mom, I see it as my responsibility to teach her to be a strong woman. The world is a bad, scary, unpredictable place and she might as well learn sooner rather than later that a) shit’s going to happen, and, b) how to deal with it. I am not about coddling and sheltering. Protecting, yes, that’s my job as a parent, and why I want some answers about this biting thing. After all, I’m not going to keep sending her someplace where she’s going to get ambushed by the Marvs of the world. But in a larger sense, I think I do her a bigger disservice by sheltering her (in this case, pulling her out of school after one such incident). I want her to strike out on her own someday as a confident, capable person, not be living in my house when she’s 30 (actually, I might need her to help me to the bathroom by then, so maybe I do want her living at home when she’s 30). Regardless, I know this is another one of those things that I will look back on when she’s a teenager and laugh about how it was no big deal. It’s all about perspective, no?