Little Nippers

We have recently put our kids in childcare.  We were blessed to get them any childcare spot at all, and the centre we have them at is a kiddies paradise.  The staff are adoring and caring, the facilities clean, neat and new, and the large playground provides hours of fun.

The kids have mostly settled in well.  Big A has been feigning fake illnesses a few times (actually believed him on Monday when he said he had a headache fever), but is so absorbed that he forgets to even say goodbye once he is in the classroom.  And there is a girl there that he likes to play with.  Little A throws spectacular tantrums when we drop him off, whining ‘Daaa-dddy’ and clinging desperately to hubbie.  But when we pick him up, he is always happily playing.  And from the photos during the day, he has had a lot of fun.

But last night, Little A had a big, round, red welt on his left cheek.  He had been bitten by another toddler.

I was horrified: how could a little child, not yet two, latch onto someone’s cheek and bite with such force that the mark is still visible two days’ later?  A mark so clear that you could see individual teeth marks?  I found myself mentally passing mental judgement on the parents of this child.

I spoke to the staff.  They were so sorry, and one of his carers (they prefer to be known as educators) was almost in tears.  The child, the biter, had never previously been known to do this before.  She had not wanted to share a toy with Little A, and the incident had happened very suddenly.  The educators promised to monitor them more closely in future.

The funny thing is that Little A is a big toddler, with sumo strength, and known to give Big A a hard time.  Including pushing big brother away when he wants toys, and sometimes even pulling his hair to reach his objective.  Big A is totally helpless when pitted against Little A.  But apparently at childcare Little A is the ‘gentle giant’, and backs off when confronted by other toddlers.

I related this to a friend, herself a mother of two young boys.  She said that every week, on the one day she puts them in childcare, her three year old son is bitten by another child.  Every week. It appears to be quite common in childcare centres, at least here in Australia.

Am I missing something?  Am I too sensitive, and too much of a care-bear mother?  Is biting just a normal developmental thing, or is it really, really bad?  Is it a growing trend? I must confess I had never heard of it happening in Taiwan, but we didn’t put Big A into a centre until he was nearly three and Little A was home being cared for by our wonderful nanny.

Little A is fine, he is recovering well and since he was bitten by a healthy, immunized child and not a wild rabies infected dog he doesn’t require any shots or even a medical appointment.  But he has been unwell with a persistent cough anyway, so we kept him home instead of sending him to childcare today.  And it is going to be hell to convince him to go back in the toddlers room tomorrow, just as he was starting to settle in.

So has your child ever been bitten by another youngster?  And if so, did you think it was acceptable?

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