Baby is teething. She gums everything. Lately she has taken to gumming my toes. I’ll be sitting with my feet up on the ottoman, and she’ll just come by and start gnawing on my big toe like a tiny curly-headed piranha.
It sort of tickles. I laugh.
But recently Baby approached Preschooler and started nibbling on her toes.
“MOMMY! HELP!” Preschooler cried. “SHE’S EATING ME!”
I stifled my laughter, and gently chided Baby (mostly to mollify Preschooler), “We don’t bite. Biting hurts.”
But then those little love nibbles on my toes turned into actual bites with sharp, little teeth. The gentle chiding turned into an all out, “OW! We Don’t Bite. Biting Hurts.”
One day was particularly trying. Baby was running her reign of terror. Having been scolded for biting approximately 392 times for biting, she was now upturning all my baskets, ripping up all my books, eating all my power cords, and generally being a nuisance.
To make matters worse, Baby seemed hellbent on antagonizing Preschooler, and every time she approached Preschooler, Preschooler would scream, “NOOOOOO!!! Go Away! Mama, Baby Is Getting Me!”
By about 8 pm, Baby turbo-crawled towards Preschooler, who was pinned against the wall crying, “Mama, stop her!”
And it hit me.
“Preschooler,” I asked. “Are you afraid Baby will bite you?”
Preschooler nodded, tears running down her face.
“Oh honey,” I said, helping her onto my lap. “I promise, I’ll never let Baby bite you.”
“And you too, Mommy?”
“Yes, I promise, I’ll never let Baby bite me either.”
And then she was ok. She got off my lap, and started playing with Baby, who only wanted Preschooler’s attention in the first place.
In conclusion, I let Baby continue biting. Bad. I reassured Preschooler that, as the parent, I’ll always protect her. Good. But, if had never let Baby bite, Preschooler would never need assurance in the first place.
Crap, I’m still not doing this parenting thing right.