Thursday, January 28, 2010

Basic Instinct

"I already have four animals... what would I want a dog for?" - My eloquently clever wiseass of a father, referring to his four children, every time one of us would ask if we could get a dog.

It is through parenthood we come to realize just how close we as a species are to animals. That's right. Animals. Think about it. All that separates us from dogs, for example, are thumbs. We have thumbs. We can pick stuff up.

If dogs had thumbs they'd rule the world. With an iron fist. Because they'd have thumbs.

Anyway... I came to this conclusion after receiving one of the most ridiculous voice messages in digital telephonic history. Despite my penchant for hyperbole, I think may agree.

As I'm walking the dog (it all comes back to dogs), I received a voicemail alert. My wife forwarded me a message she had received from day care since I was the one picking up our daughter that evening. "Hi, honey. School just called about an incident she had and I want to give you the heads up so you can follow up with them when you pick her up."

Isn't she cute how she uses terms like "follow up" with me, like I'm a member of her staff?

Since my wife was calm in her message, I knew this couldn't be that big of a deal. Then came the message from day care, "Hi this is Miss Diana. I just want you to know that everything is OK. You daughter is fine." They always lead with that - very smart. She continued, "There was an incident with another child. They were in housekeeping (a little playhouse area) and your daughter had a toy and the other child wanted it. When she didn't give it to him (Him? She's standing up to boys? Nice.), the other child bit her on the arm."

At that point, I'm thinking to myself, "what an animal." See? Animal. But wait until you hear what my precious little angel did in retaliation. Miss Diana then informed us in her message that she bit the other kid back.

That's my girl. You mess with the bull you get the horns.

Then the rational parent in me kicked in. Yes, there is one of those inside of me somewhere, sitting right across from the frat guy and the curmudgeon, disapprovingly shaking his head at the both of them. When the rational parent emerged, I thought to myself... who bites people? I know who. Animals. That's who. Poorly trained dogs. Overworked donkeys. A feisty mongoose. They bite people. So, apparently, do children. My child, in fact.

It is a basic instinct. Someone bites us, we bite them back. You bother one long enough, and even the most docile of dogs will snap at you. In this case, my daughter got under a little boy's skin so much that he tried to take a chunk out of hers. That was his natural reaction. And her natural response was to bite him back. Animals.

Both my wife and I tried our best to communicate to our daughter later that evening that even though someone bites her, it's still bad to bite them back. We made her make eye contact with us to ensure her undivided attention. We even put on our serious faces and used our serious voices. I think the message sank in. If that one didn't, we'll get another message from school some day.


  1. Lol Paul, Marissa, Dana and I were just talking about this bc a boy hit Neveah last week in school and she told on him instead of hitting him back. I don't quite know which is better. Taddle telling or retaliation??

  2. LOL! There is one other difference between people and other animals: when we sniff each other's asses, we usually do it in private. Seems significant to me.

    It's an interesting line between that part of you that sees the need to respond appropriately when your child does something like that, and that part that feels almost proud. My son had a track meet (his first ever) recently and all I really wanted was to see him beat the little brat that always picks on him. What can I say, it's the animal in me...

    Thanks for the post!





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