“But he showed remorse,” said my kind friend when I called her crying to apologize that my son had bitten hers at school. “What more could you want?”
Um, for him to not do it at all?
Really, what I want is for my son not to feel that kind of out-of-control anger. I know he’s three and a half and that some socially inappropriate behavior is, well, developmentally appropriate. But I also know that when he went through a similar phase two years ago, some body work and energy work really seemed to help.
And I know that as someone who suffered from undiagnosed depression all through my childhood, it’s no fun to feel unhappy inside. Although medication helped through a few dark periods in my adulthood, it’s become crystal clear to me that what has made the most profound difference has been a combination of non-drug remedies: a gluten-free, casein-free diet; regular exercise and yoga; and body work and energy work, including acupuncture, chiropractic and craniosacral therapy (CST).
So when my son had a biting episode a few weeks back for the first time (a 12-hour playdate is a rough thing for overtired cousins inhabiting a small space on a rainy cold day), I made an appointment with the acupuncturist who saw us when he had an ear infection months ago. While I waited the three weeks before that opening, I also got him in for CST work, which I though was probably more useful for him (lasting a full hour) but is twice as expensive as the acupuncturist who works with kids.
The acupuncture was scheduled for Friday at the end of the first week of school. E seemed to enjoy school fine and had none of the crying some other kids did upon leaving their moms for the first time. But on Tuesday, the second day, he did bite the arm of his friend, G, in what was probably a tussle over a toy. “It might have been provoked,” the teacher said, having not seen the lead-up. But I was deeply troubled.
My kid is nice. He’s usually patient and kind. When he does physical stuff, something seems like it’s just not right inside. That’s an awful feeling, and I don’t want him to have it. To me, the biting is a symptom. Maybe he’s feeding off of my stress. Maybe it’s partly the change of season, as the acupuncturist suggested. Maybe it’s that we’ve been trying some dairy in his diet, and maybe it doesn’t agree with him any more than it does with me.
What I do know is that he and I both had a nice day Friday and a pretty mellow weekend after a week of volatility and meltdowns. All the doctor did was use a little roller on a few spots and then put little acupressure stickers on his ears, hands and feet. Thinking we might try needles on him next time, she did a demo on me with a quick insertion to two points that address the kidney meridian and fear. “You’ll have a good day, too,” she nodded to me.
And I did. Within a few hours, the sense of urgency and crisis was gone. My son and I had a lovely time together. We’ll see if he can hold onto that calm through today, the first day of the second week of school.