It is 1.25a.m. I listen to my son grind his teeth. It is louder than it should be. He has the price of a small car in his mouth. All of his baby teeth crowned in metal, the result of a genetic failure. His teeth would crumble without the support. Or is it because of the drugs I had to take when I was pregnant. Is it my fault? In my first pregnancy I had partial kidney failure and when, during my second pregnancy my kidney’s blocked we ended up in the same hospital in Berlin, even though by this time we had moved far away. The pain that gripped my entire torso felt like being strapped into an iron corset. I could only bend at the knees. I took the tablets and I could breathe. My fear, my husband’s fear that we could have a second more terrifying birth eased slightly.
He is nine weeks old and I have brought him with me to a toddler group. I carefully lay him down and attend to his brother. Suddenly there’s a piercing shriek. I turn. A small child has his finger in her mouth. She is biting, biting down on my baby’s finger and he is bleeding and screaming. The child’s father is unperturbed. “These things happen”, he shrugs. Another mother whispers “She’s a biter”. I am shocked and horrified. I do nothing. I yell at my own toddler in frustration. He cries too. I have not protected my child, my children. That night I ring the mother of the other child. She isn’t interested. I leave the toddler group. My older son hated it anyway but I still feel guilty. My baby wakes each night screaming. The doctor says it is trauma. I have let my children down.
He is three in H&M. His brother is roaring. His brother shows me a wet stain on his chest and lifts his t-shirt. There is an uneven line on his chest, teeth marks, red and sore. “He bit me”, the brother howls, “He’s a biter”.
I am afraid of biting, of its connotations; dirty, wild, untamed. I am no longer afraid my children will bite but my terror has settled on the dog. I train her, try to control the situation but in truth, it is myself I am attempting to control. My own wild instinct to protect my children and bite all whom they fear. I try to civilise myself and act according to the rules of society. I don’t bite. I want to bite.