Back in 2010:
I met my husband, Gavin, and introduced him to my dog-child, Joseph. At first, my husband hated Joseph. Especially the day I was gone running errands and the dog pranced around in the snow for hours while my husband tried to catch him. But eventually, they fell in love and it was decided that Joseph, aka Joey, should be enrolled in doggie day-care to keep his dog-skills sharp. One day, when my husband picked up the dog-child from doggie-school, he was informed Joey no longer was welcome. I guess Joey liked chasing other dogs around and would occasionally nibble on their ankles and feet while doing so.
Insert look of confusion.
What’s the problem?
Don’t all dogs do this?
Uhhhh, he’s just playing.
HELLO! Am I missing something?
THAT DUMB TEACHER, WTF IS WRONG WITH THEM! WE WILL JUST TAKE OUR DOG SOMEWHERE ELSE WHERE HE WILL BE LOVED. FUCK YOU, DOGGIE SCHOOL.
Joey, come here sweet doggie angel baby cakes. I’m so sorry you had to go through that.
Fast forward to now:
“Come on, boys! Let’s go to school!”
It is paperwork drop-off day to officially enroll my two boys in school. Although my younger son, Samuel, is only 17 months, his ass is going to school. Just for two mornings a week so I can run errands, workout, clean my house, stab myself in the eye with a knife….all of this officially known as “RELAXATION” when the kids aren’t present.
I dressed the boys in matching outfits, we read the postcard that their teachers mailed them over the summer, we dreamed big about what this experience would be like. I expected us to walk in the doors, they would roll out the red carpet when they saw it was us approaching, the old teachers would run forward, embrace us…say how awful the summer was without us in their lives. Introduce Samuel to the school and let everyone “eww and ahh” over how stinkin’ cute he is. A door would open and out would fly a giant rainbow with pictures of my sweet children at both ends.
Yeah, that didn’t happen. What did happen is my boys ran around a room that was really freakin’ quiet and I had to act like I knew how to control them. Then, I got nervous and blurted out that Samuel bites, in desperate hopes his teacher would comfort me and offer words of advice. Instead, she handed me a piece of paper that said “3 strikes, he’s OUT.”
I felt so deflated in that moment. I know it sounds ridiculous, but these last two months of my life have been 100% dedicated to my children. When I was working, I was still 100% dedicated to my children, but I always could blame any misbehavior on daycare. It was my scapegoat. Now, however, it’s all on me. Their behavior, their intelligence, their manners are all a direct reflection of how good I am at being a mom. And when you have toddlers, their teachers are the main judges around. I was so embarrassed at how she reacted, especially considering other parents were eavesdropping. I felt alone, like that piece of paper was printed off just for my unruly, out-of-control child. Instead of the red carpet and rainbow, I left feeling judged and shitty. The teacher did nothing wrong, I just wanted that moment to be perfect. And instead, it was a giant magnifying glass peeking into the flaws of my world.
Then I remembered our dog getting kicked out of doggie-school, ironically for the same damn issue. Now I know that my husband and I run around biting people when they piss us off, but I didn’t think we were screwing our kids and dogs over THAT much. Man, they really do mimic exactly what their parents do…Over here, we bite. AHHH, joking of course. But what am I doing wrong? I try to tell myself yes, I certainly could parent better (who couldn’t?), but to say I am doing something wrong would be unfair. I have identified areas that we could work on to discourage biting (won’t bore you with those), but it will take time and I just want this issue to be resolved overnight. I can’t help but feel guilty, though. Everything I read and hear on biting is so conflicting. Some say to bite him back, others say don’t. Some say to spank, others say don’t. Some say to ignore him, others say to correct him. Some say to put him in a closet and keep him there until he’s 10, others say “nope, it’s more like until he’s 18”. WHAT DO I DO?!?!
My dad reminded me tonight that this is just one hurdle we have to get through. And once we make it over this and laugh at the thought of him biting, something else will pop up and give me more content for a blog post. This is just my life now. Problems will arise, and since I am a “good parent wanna-be”, I will strive to solve it. My kids won’t ever be perfect, I will still make a lot of mistakes, but no one can fault me for trying and caring.
I have had so many people reach out to me about this issue and value your input so much!! If anything, it makes me feel a little less shitty since it sounds like a lot of you are pretty crappy parents yourselves. MUAH! And a really special shout out to my friend whose kid was my son’s biting victim this week. Thanks for not even getting up off the couch and saying “whatever, it happens.” You know who you are and I love you.