Yesterday was swimming class with That Baby.
She loves her some swimming class, as you might recall from the backstroke incident of last week. She loves to splash, and she loves to backfloat, and she loves to toss a ball and “swim” after it, and she loves to jump in off the side of the pool.
She loves it.
And it is nice, because there are only two other kids in the class, so she gets lots of time to do the things she enjoys.
Ben and Abby are the other two kids in class. They are both a few months younger than That Baby is. But they seem to hit it off well. Ben comes with his mom or his dad, depending, and Abby comes with her grandparents, but her grandmother is usually the one who gets her dressed and ready to go.
After yesterday’s class, Abby’s grandmother and I brought the girls into the dressing room to change. It was cold, so we got the girls dressed first, and let them run and play while we dressed. And while they were playing, Abby started kissing That Baby, as 18 month olds are wont to do.
It’s so cute. But That Baby, for all her busybodiness and intrusion into other people’s conversations and shoutiness, is actually quite reserved when she is NOT the initiator. She also does not get the opportunity to play with a lot of kids, so she is still learning the whole social interaction thing. So it was funny to watch Abby get into Stinkerbelle’s personal space, and see that Stinkerbelle was not entirely sure how to respond.
Abby laid one or two kisses on That Baby. And then her grandmother walked towards her and told her it was time to go.
Just then, Stinkerbelle began to cry. Now, lately, whenever there is an interruption in That Baby’s funtime, she begins to cry. So I went to comfort her and commiserate a little with her about how sad it was for her friend to be leaving.
Only that wasn’t it at all.
As it turns out, moments before, Abby had laid a bite on That Baby’s cheek, so hard it left deep teeth marks for hours afterward. (She was bruised all day today, and even still her cheek bears red marks that show clearly the outlines of a set of toddler teeth.)
I was unsure as to what to do. I grabbed That Baby, who was sobbing her heart out, both in pain and, I think, in shock that her friend would hurt her so, and after I checked to see that her skin was not broken, I held her close.
My heart was breaking for her.
I told Abby’s grandmother that Abby had bitten Stinkerbelle. She was, rightly so, quite mortified, and gave Abby a talking to. She tried to make Abby apologize. Abby just stood and grinned.
I was feeling fairly forgiving. After all, this is what happens with toddlers, right?
And then Abby’s grandmother said something that changed the entire situation. She said to me, “I was so surprised that she was kissing That Baby. Usually, she’s a biter.”
WHAT? EXCUSE ME?
So, you’re telling me you LET your granddaughter who is prone to biting other children get all up in my kid’s face, and did nothing to A) stop any potential biting situations, or 2) warn ME that biting might happen?
I was dumbfounded.
And then it got worse.
“I guess when she was kissing That Baby and she didn’t kiss back, she bit her.”
Okay, WHAT? Now you are BLAMING THAT BABY for this?
I was stunned. I did not say anything. I just held my sobbing baby and snuggled her close and tried to kiss away her pain.
I had no idea how to respond. But my gut reaction was to say something very inappropriate, not to mention smack little Abby’s grinning blonde self.
(I did not. I only WANTED to. Note I FOUGHT THE URGE. Because I KNOW BETTER.)
Abby’s grandmother apologized several times, and on the way past as she ushered her little biting grandchild to the lobby. I just continued to cuddle That Baby, until I could get her ready to go.
I packed up my poor baby and got into the car. And I lost it. I cried. It’s the first time I have had to deal with something like this. And I just had no idea what to do.
I could not think of the marks on my poor sweet child’s face, or the pain she felt, or the sadness. It just broke my heart. I felt so sad for her. I felt sad that I could not protect her from this. And I felt sad that I could not make it all better.
I know there will be many such situations in her life, and I know that I am going to have to man up and learn how to deal. Certainly, I will have to learn how to deal better than I did yesterday.
My darling innocent baby was hurt by someone she thought of as a friend for the first time yesterday. And I was hurting for the pain she was in.
Love hurts on all kinds of levels, doesn’t it.