Jenna von Oy’s Blog: Biting Off More Than We Can Chew?

03/20/2014 at 06:15 PM ET

Celebrity blogger Jenna von Oy is a new mama!

Best known for her roles as Six on Blossom and Stevie on The Parkers, von Oy is also a musician who has released two albums and is set to publish a book, The Betweeners.

von Oy, 36, wed Brad Bratcher on Oct. 10, 2010, and resides in Nashville with her husband and five dogs.

They welcomed their first child, daughter Gray Audrey, in May 2012. She is now 22 months old.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter @JennavonOy, as well as posting on her weekly blog, The Cradle Chronicles.

In her latest blog, von Oy discusses Gray’s recent love bite — and why she’s not ready to move to Transylvania just yet.

Jenna von Oy Blog Biting
Gray and Me – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Dusk had descended upon our quiet house and the night was rapidly taking its place. The moon ominously hung in a starless sky, prompting an eerie sense of foreboding and casting a faint glow on the neighboring rooftops. A tempestuous wind danced leaves across the pavement, sending them skittering down the street like gangs of rowdy hooligans. It swayed broken tree limbs to its soundless and haunting melody, and left behind a frosty chill that stung like barbed wire.

I sat on my couch and pulled my bathrobe up over my shoulders, as the tapping of winter branches against the windowpane sent shivers down my spine.

But that wasn’t what made my skin prickle.

The movement came from my left and without warning, and I cried out as I caught a sudden flash of bared teeth. She was headed straight for me, and I was frozen in place. I had prepared myself for this eventuality, but no amount of mental rehearsal could overcome the sheer surprise of it all. There wasn’t enough time to fend off the attack. Her fangs sank into my flesh, piercing my pant leg and sending a fiery pain through my senses. The initiation had begun.

C’mon, admit it, I had you there for a second. It sounds like I stole an excerpt from some absurdly cheesy and ghoulish novel, right? Believe it or not, while somewhat embellished for the sake of fun and flair, that story is mostly true. And it happened to me!!

Take a deep breath, ladies and gentlemen, and don’t let your imaginations run wild. We aren’t headed for the zombie apocalypse or world domination by vampire. You see, the story-prompting bite came courtesy of my 22-month old daughter (aka the Nosferatu wannabe), and the initiation was one that I imagine has caught many a parent unaware.

Yes, my sweet little Gray decided to demonstrate her frustration one evening by putting her brand new (not to mention exceedingly sharp) canines to good use. On my leg.

In that very unexpected moment, her stunt had me reeling. Where did I go wrong? Should I have refrained from reading Twilight while Gray was in the womb? Should we start perusing the real estate market in Transylvania? I hear property is cheap over there.

Clearly, I jest. I realize it isn’t some epic parenting failure that lead to this scenario and, more importantly, I don’t feel Gray has done anything wrong. (Though try telling that to my leg!) I’m not suggesting I sanction biting — my husband and I do our best to teach our daughter to be loving, kind, respectful and gentle. But social graces aren’t necessarily built in at birth; sometimes they come from hands on learning. Or, in this case, “teeth-on” learning.

Aside from the substantial role teething played in Gray’s little taste test (I wasn’t kidding when I’ve mentioned her being a foodie!), I know she is trying things on for size. My daughter is testing the waters, gauging our reactions, and seeing how far the envelope can be pushed. She’s almost two, after all, and two-year-olds are notorious for pushing boundaries and parenting buttons!

Gray is finding her own limitations, as well as ours. And apparently, this included spontaneously chomping down on the beefiest section of my thigh. Which for the record — and thankfully — hasn’t happened since.

I understand biting is a fairly typical phase for kids Gray’s age to go through. The same goes for hitting, pushing, screaming, throwing miscellaneous household items, kicking, and any other adventurous form of self-expression that a tiny human might experiment with. (And that might render their parents the pariahs of the preschool community, if not nipped in the bud!)

I generally think these spectacular feats of derring-do are attempted out of curiosity and a desire to be better understood. And also, because I imagine teething really sucks. Pun intended. Alas, inquiring two-year-old minds are nothing if not spirited and headstrong, right?

I like that Gray keeps us on our toes, and that she’s eager to explore new ways of communicating — even if that means I might need to invest in full body padding, or tote around garlic and holy water from time to time. (Look out, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there’s a new act in town!) It’s all part of our parenting journey and her learning process.

If you’re wondering how I responded to the ambush, I’ll admit I involuntarily shouted “OUCH!” It may have been slightly louder and more enthusiastic than I would have liked, given my disorientation, but it did the trick. It startled Gray into retreating. (Back away from the leg, and keep your teeth where I can see ’em!)

I actually think the fact that she hurt me caused her more pain than it did me. She immediately burst into tears. I took a deep breath, firmly but lovingly told her, “Please don’t bite, that really hurt Mommy.” Then I changed the subject to get her mind off of it. Ah, the art of distraction.

I certainly don’t want this blog post to make you think I take my parenting responsibilities lightly, or that I view serial biting as a trivial issue … that’s a different story altogether. I’ve had friends whose children were fixated on biting for an extended period of time, and it was no laughing matter. It was baffling, frustrating, alarming and alienating for everyone involved. Not to mention painful!

During a lunch date a few years ago, one of my friends pulled back her blouse sleeve to reveal an arm peppered with black and blue bite marks, courtesy of her son. It looked like piranhas had been feasting. So I certainly take that side of it seriously! I’m only poking fun at my own experience, because it’s mine to laugh at.

In my case, laughter isn’t terribly hard to come by, since it was such a brief encounter of the nipping kind. I don’t anticipate my daughter entering the pro-biting circuit any time soon, and I know the action wasn’t intentionally malicious. I don’t think the occurrence denotes aggressive tendencies, or abnormal development, or even that my child is channeling Dracula.

It’s a reminder (albeit a somewhat physically unpleasant one) that my kid is just that — a kid. Not that I’ll forget that fact any time soon, given the number of toys I step on daily, or the stash of Cheerios currently in my purse!

Despite her fairly impressive ability to communicate, Gray doesn’t always have the vocabulary to explain her feelings with words alone. This means she sometimes resorts to other ways of getting her point across. I’ll admit words and hand gestures are preferable, but every now and then I suppose there may be a more “unique” approach that surfaces. This was one of those times.

In the moment it happened, my goal was to discourage the biting, without inadvertently causing Gray to focus on the attention it triggered. And, of course, I’m keeping an eye out to make sure she isn’t attempting her “love bites” on anyone else!

Jenna von Oy Blog Biting
Laughter Is the Best Medicine – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

As long as Gray isn’t gnawing on her friends at daycare, I’m not going to worry too much about it.

Finding constructive ways to let our children know their behavior is inappropriate, without putting too much emphasis on an act we hope they don’t repeat, can be a curious little balancing act, can’t it?

That said, I couldn’t ignore the opportunity to joke about it with all of you. The vampire references are just WAY too amusing to pass up!

It’s a comfort to be able to share experiences that might seem like a mountain when they transpire, and a molehill in retrospect.

It’s nice to know some of you have gone through something similar as well. Please feel free to share your own funny experiences in the comments section below. I love hearing from all of you …

Until next time …

— Jenna von Oy

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Showing 14 comments

olsontwins on

My two year old twins LOVE this book and all biting has ceased since we started reading it.

It is called “Teeth Are Not For Biting”



Carol Anne on

The friend whose arm was “peppered” with bite marks from her kid is ridiculous. My parents would have set down the law very quickly on that one. I understand that toddlers are going to bite but this case sounds extreme. (The friend with the bite marks on her arm, not Jenna’s little girl’s one time). Sounds like a case where the kid is running the home; not the other way around. It sounds like Jenna handled her situation very well.

Pam on

My 4 month old son loves to bite down on my nipples while breastfeeding. Of course he doesn’t have teeth yet. It’s already so painful, so I can just imagine what it’ll feel like when his teeth come in. At first he thinks it’s the funniest thing and cracks up, but then I’ll say ouch and he’ll stop. I think he already gets that it hurts me. He also loves to scratch, pinch, punch, and kick me. Who knew babies could be so violent? I think he’s just getting used to using his hands and feet as tools now, he realizes they’re his and he can use them to do things. Ouch always seems to make him stop. I am trying to teach him that it hurts now before it gets too bad.

shanice on

We used the “biting juice” when my children were toddlers .. I used a mixture of natural lemon juice/water & it was placed on their tongue when they bit to try to deter them from biting. My son would say “No, ma, not the nasty juice”! And he quit after a few months.

Beth on

My son bit a kid in preschool…..hard ! So we had a talk and a big time out for hurting someone. Then one day, he just leaned over and took a bite out of my arm ( well it felt like that, lol ) And here’s where I get a lot of nasty reply’s. I said to him”, this is how it feels,” and I bit him back. Just enough to make a point. He never did it again.

Christina on

My now two year old son has sort of come into a biting phase. He recently I like to believe in over excitement bit my boyfriends thigh while they were playing. He hasn’t bitten me yet. Luckily because I heard it hurts! 😊

Juanita on

I told my son when he first bit me at 2yrs old that we bite food not people!

Jaime on

Love your blogs! Agree, daycare is where it becomes a bigger issue.

I also love that your daughter has the same name as my son (who would have had the same name had he been a girl). So rare!

Mandy on

Beth I bit my daughter too adter she clamped down with her teeth & would not let go. She hasn’t done it since.

Tay on

Great post, so funny.

Christina on

Beth, I did the exact same thing and it works! It worked on me as a child too according to my Mom 😉

Lacey on

What makes you think if she thinks it’s alright to bite you that she won’t be biting other kids at daycare?

Beth on

Thanks Mandy & Christina ! 🙂