April Drew's son Colum had an encounter at a local park that he hasn’t forgotten, much to the chagrin of his mother.
It's one of those awkward moments in the park. Everything is going smoothly. My son is happily climbing monkey bars, swinging off ropes and making dinner for his mommy in a make-shift wooden house.
It’s nice to sit back and see him interact with other kids. It’s even nicer (or so I thought) when a boy about eight months his junior gives him a cuddle.
At least I thought it was a cuddle until I heard an almighty scream. The little sweet angel, dressed in boyish blue dungarees with a Tommy Hilfiger coat and a black hat, sunk his teeth into my little boy’s left cheek.
It all looked so innocent on the approach. The little boy’s father, a thirty-something attractive looking dad donning a Munster rugby sweat suit (on weekends all the men in Limerick wear the same outfit) looked at me and smiled as both our kids were about to embrace.
“Awe,” I said
“Very cute,” he said.
And then it happened. The younger boy threw his arms around Colum’s neck, pulling him down to his level. Colum hugged him back while smiling with delight.
The little boy lunged his mouth forward for what we both thought was going to be a kiss, and firmly planted his full set of fully formed teeth into Colum’s cheek.
They spent 15 minutes before that running after each other in the park, playing on the same rides and kicking a football back and forth. This all ended abruptly when Colum, my 22-month-old, screamed from the top of his lungs while holding his cheek in an effort to ease the pain.
He ran to me faster than the speed of light and tucked his head into my lap while explaining through the tears that the little boy bit his face.
“Boy bite me Mommy, bite bite, bold, no bite,” he repeated over and over red faced and hurt.
As soon as he realized that the innocent looking embrace was in fact an attack on my son -- okay I’m being a little dramatic here -- the aforementioned father couldn’t apologize enough. Naturally I accepted his many attempts to say sorry and made it known that “every child will bite at one point or another.”
It still didn’t stop his apologizes. “He has never done this before,” said the dad numerous times.
“He must be teething, it’s the only explanation,” I said in an effort to make him feel better.
He tried to speak to the child in a disciplinary manner, but he was only 14-months. He was tiny, barely walking and I’ve no doubt didn’t mean to bite Colum so hard, or even probably bite him at all.
The father, after the 30th apology, left the park vowing that his son would “never do that again.”
Colum went to day care the next day and the staff in his room expressed immediate concern over the bite. The visible marks eventually turned into a massive bruise (which is just about fading now, 10 days later) and Colum forgot about the whole thing, or so I thought.
Sunday morning I brought both kids (Colum and his seven-month-old sister Sadie) back to the same park. Colum was excited all morning about the idea of going to play.
“Car, I go park mommy,” was all I was hearing since breakfast. Eventually pulling myself together, I packed them into the car and drove the 10 minutes to the nearest park.
Colum spoke to himself the whole way down about the fun he was going to have. It wasn’t until we pulled into the car park that he begun to change his mind.
“No mommy, no park.”
I couldn’t understand the flip.
“Have you a dirty nappy Colum,“ I asked, thinking he was uncomfortable walking or something.
“Stay car, Sadie go park,” he continued, suggesting I take his little sister and leave him behind.)
“Colum, why don’t you want to go to the park? It will be great fun,” I said convincingly.
“Baby bite,” he said while pointing to his cheek.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had nearly forgotten the incident but he certainly hadn’t. My heart broke that he was afraid of the little boy and the park.
It took a few more minutes of convincing him that the boy wasn’t at the park and he would have lots of fun. He was cautious though. He was stuck to my side for about 15 minutes but eventually braved the park and all its activities.
He didn’t go near the pretend house, though, and I’ve a feeling he won’t be making mommy dinner anytime soon.
We enjoyed the rest of Sunday cleaning up the house, doing the grocery shopping, preparing dinners and doing a bit of work.
Monday rolls around too quickly sometimes for my liking. Both kids seemed to be coming down with something when I dropped them off at day care. I had to go to work. I should have stayed in bed. It was one of those days!
It began with bumping my new car into a curb and doing some minor damage to the underbelly of it, much to my husband’s disgust.
“Why weren’t you looking?” I was asked in a not-so-friendly tone.
“I was tired,” I grumbled.
Anyway, I parked up the car and went to work. I work as a sign language interpreter traveling the length and breadth of Ireland when needed. This particular Monday I had a job in Limerick.
I was a little disheveled. The hair wasn’t combed very well earlier in the morning, the make-up was slapped on and I forgot the perfume. I threw on a forgiving oversized purple dress (I think it may even have been an old maternity one) and an old pair of boots.
I got through the morning (after two Diet Cokes) okay. I had an hour off for lunch and I needed to move my car from where I parked it. Apparently clamping was a given if I overstayed my time limit.
The walk to the car was approximately 20 minutes. I had finally woken up. The air was fresh and there was a slight nip in it.
As I strolled briskly I could feel several people look at me funnily as I went by them. I really must look a mess I thought to myself, not really caring though. I was about a minute away from the car when finally a nice young thing approached me and said, “Excuse me, but I just want to tell you you’re dress is stuck in your knickers.”
“Whattttttt,” I screeched in mortification.
I quickly looked down at my right side, and sure enough the purple old rag dress was nicely tucked into my knickers and the whole word could see my right leg all the way up. A quick pull and it was released back into place again. Could I be more embarrassed, and it was only lunchtime!
I thanked the young girl and scurried off in the direction of my car. Embarrassment turned into laughter and for the remainder of my foot journey to the car I couldn’t stop myself from giggling. I then got looks from passers-by. I’m sure they thought I was missing a few shillings.
I returned to work for the afternoon and for the most part (aside from missing two steps and tripping up on an indoor stairs) it was incident free.
When I returned to day care to collect the children I was met with a few scornful faces.
First they informed me that both kids were sick – there was a bug going around the school -- and it was probably best “to keep them home tomorrow” and the news got worse.
One of the staff pulled me out of Colum’s ear shot and said he had an incident with one of the other kids.
How many incidents could the Mooney family have in one day I thought, before asking what they meant?
“Well, I’m sure he didn’t mean it but he was playing with one of the other boys outside and he bit his leg,” the room supervisor said.
“Oh no, he was bitten again,” I said.
“Oh no April, Colum is okay but HE bit the boy in the leg.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Then the apologies started.
“Oh my God I’m shocked, especially after what happened him in the park,” I mumbled.
“I’m so sorry. I hope ye disciplined him for it.”
“We’re sure he was only fooling around and didn’t mean it, or maybe he is teething,” she said.
And there it was, the effort to make me feel better. They knew full well that my little man was being a right brat. He knows that biting a human is totally out of order but he did it anyway.
I continued to apologize and they accepted it over and over again.
I’m sure Colum’s little victim went home crying to his parents on Monday night about the bold little boy at the crèche who took a chunk out of his leg -- okay I’m exaggerating again -- but I hope when it comes to going back to day care that the little boy won’t be afraid of my son.
So there you have it. The words “they all do it” to the father that day in the park came back to bite me, too!