I received a call from Mister Man's teacher this afternoon before they got off the bus. "I'm not sure how to tell you this," his teacher began, "but Mister Man bit someone at recess today."
My child isn't a biter. And he turns 9 tomorrow. How does this happen? As the story came from her - who wasn't there but heard about it after he was brought inside - he was trying to climb up a slide and a friend of his was trying to go down the slide and Mister Man somehow bit his friend in the shoulder. He didn't break the skin, thank goodness, but it will leave a mark for awhile. And it's totally not ok under any circumstances. Mister Man had to miss the remainder of recess today and will stay inside with the teacher for the rest of the week, a fair punishment for a third grader, I think.
When Mister Man got home, I asked for his side of the story. He explained that he and other boys were going up the slide, and some of his friends were at the top of the slide. Another friend pushed the friend he bit, who came tumbling down the slide, and Mister Man was shocked by the boy tumbling into him. And in his surprise, apparently his instinct was to bite the other child. That's where I start blinking in confusion.
When my husband arrived home and heard about it, we immediately looked at each other. "Was it you?" "Were you a biter?" The questions over whose family this trait originated began. It obviously wasn't something that was taught, so it must be innate, and we immediately start looking to see if a trait came from my side or from his side, not tallying, not keeping score, but just knowing.
It's human nature in some what to want to understand where you originated, what you pass to your children, what little things will remain forever memorialized. But it isn't and can't be the focus.
Instead, I sat Mister Man down and had him write a very nice apology letter that he will give to his friend, explaining most importantly that he didn't mean to hurt his friend. And, of course, asking to have a playdate soon so that he can show how good of a friend he can be.
And I'll be crossing my fingers not to get another call like this one for a long time. I don't want to be responsible for any more entertaining Facebook posts on her wall.
In the interest of full disclosure, this post was written as part of the From Left to Write book club where we write posts inspired by the books we read rather than traditional book reviews. This month's book was "The Black Count" by Tom Reiss. I receive a copy of the book for review purposes, but there was no compensation as part of this campaign. All opinions remain my own.