“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival”
It all started with the covers on the bed. Well, maybe it ended there, because it started with the moon coming over the foothills on my way home. That’s probably most accurate.
Normally I get in around 8:30am to work and leave around 5:30. Technically I am 9-6, but my boss said he doesn’t care what hours I work as long as I get the job done. Between a discussion of several stories and the inevitable hour-long negotiation to try and get a photographer to shoot a sweeps piece I had reached a level of stress I hadn’t felt in awhile, and I still had the entire evening to deal with.
You have to think of my day as a kind of sandwich. It starts, usually really early (for me) around 5:30 or 6am getting myself dressed, fighting with Hannah and the boys to try and get some semblance of their rooms picked up (usually with my miserable failure) and then heading down after showering to make them breakfast and readying them for school. Then I drop them at school, talking with Abbi to make sure she’s got a handle on her day, then head straight to work so I can make it by 8:30-ish so I can get home and put dinner on the table at a reasonable hour.
But today went long. Getting a photographer isn’t an easy prospect. Nine guys off, God help us if someone calls in sick, and if I have to travel very far (I do) then I’m taking a shooter for a full day. This on top of trying to work a bunch of stories so we have some semblance of a sweeps calendar. I don’t manage this anymore, but I still have to produce. I’m it, for now. So leaving around 6:15 or so puts me square in the nasty time of traffic and idiocy that is Highway 50 East.
And then I saw it. The Bad Moon Rising . . . a full moon. I’ve read all those studies, even listened to the unwanted lectures and unsolicited parenting articles that claim sugar doesn’t cause kids to get hyper (They haven’t met MY kids, then) and that the moon has no impact on people or children.
Sorry for the profane language, but it’s the best descriptor, believe me. I drove toward home, watching the full moon, that bad moon rising, beautiful, an amber color, with the craters forming an image like the left profile of a woman, staring at me with her one eye, smiling hideously, knowing full well that there’s loads of fun waiting for me at home, I just had to get there. The traffic was nasty. The drivers on the road was angry. The syrupy color of the moon draining as it rose higher and higher, almost directly above my house. It turned from its ruddy color to a brightness I can only describe as God’s flashlight.
I walked in the door and it was quiet. Too quiet.
Abbi, God bless her, was crumbling cake into a bowl. She’d found a recipe for “cake pops” and was determined to make them. Her cake of choice a red velvet, the food dye everywhere, on the counter, staining her hands, in the sink. I had grabbed a couple frozen pizzas, so I didn’t need the counter space, but it was an interesting project to start the night before she had to take her PSAT’s. Oh, yeah, did I mention she had to take that tomorrow morning? Guess she’s not too worried.
But the moon has a way of acting on the kids. I know I sound like my mother again, but they went screwball, Mad Mad World, bat – s#*t crazy. Hannah beating on the boys. Noah trying to shove Sam’s face into a cereal bowl. Sam screaming at Hannah because she skipped 3 frames past the commercial of some awful anime cartoon they were watching.
And then Noah told me what a girl in his class told him. Now, bear in mind, I know Noah’s a handful. He can have his issues, but he’s a good kid. He’s very loving. He’s hurt easy, but acts out when he is. But this was over the top. The girl looks him in the eye, sideways glancing at Sam (I added this for effect, probably didn’t happen, but Sam heard it so it makes me feel better to vilify the kid) she states “my life is better than yours because I have both my parents and your Mom’s dead!”
Now, Noah is usually reactionary. He doesn’t instigate much, but he reacts rather angrily. This just hurt him. His eyes were teared up and he was hurt. I told him, if her life was that much better, she wouldn’t have had to tell him it was. She obviously is jealous of him for some reason. I don’t know why, maybe her Dad doesn’t hug her as much as I hug my kids, I don’t care. It was hurtful.
It also set the tone for the evening. It’s why he went off the deep end, hit his brother, poked at his sister, and then that horribly cackling woman in the moon sent them over the edge.
So I got them going for bed.
But here’s where the bed covers come in.
Noah wasn’t happy his bed was messed up. Bear in mind, of course, that they’re supposed to make their own beds every morning. I’m not like a drill sergeant, by the way, I don’t flip a quarter to make sure it bounces off the covers or measure the corners to make sure they’re neatly hospital style. But I make my bed every morning, they can too!
I read every night to them, so this night we were reading a book by my friend (read acquaintance) James Rollins: Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx. Noah was upset his bed was messed up. I told him he should have made it this morning and to put the covers back on himself. His response was to rip off the bedspread and throw it on the floor. I kept reading. He ripped off the sheet, threw it on the other side of the floor. I told him it would get chilly tonight, so if he’s cold, he’ll have to get up and pick up the covers. I wasn’t going to fix them unless he apologized and asked nicely.
I looked and the moon, that woman’s crazy eye staring at me from the mid-point above the horizon. The damn woman was pulling on their strings!
So, here’s where it really gets crazy. I finished the chapter, said prayers, hugged Sam and told him good night. Noah buried his head in the pillow. He hugged me but wouldn’t talk. I just looked at him and said “I love you. Are you seriously going to go to bed and not say anything?”
I won’t put any of the kids to bed without saying I love them. I told Andrea every night before they kicked me out of the hospital, and I said it every night when she was alive. I’ll be damned if it’s not the last thing each kid hears before they fall asleep. I ask the same of them. They don’t have to like me very much, and on Bad Moon nights they don’t, but I hope they love me.
Sam was beside himself. He wanted Noah to have covers. He’s the protective son, the guardian of their safety and the carrier of the banner for our solidarity. He wanted me to fix Noah’s covers. I wouldn’t. I told them both if he came and asked me nicely I’d do it. Otherwise, he knows how to make his bed. If he’s cold, he’ll get the covers himself.
I tucked in Hannah, scolded her for how bad her room was – so bad I can’t walk in without tripping over some little thing – and gave her a hug, told her good night and I loved her.
Then I went downstairs. I watch so little television I’m still watching season premiers of shows from September and turned on an episode of some crime procedural while I got the materials for tomorrow’s lunches.
I heard the shuffling feet before I saw the little blonde head peek around the corner. His eyes were wet, not tearing, but near there.
“Daddy, will you please come fix my bed for me. I can’t do it right.”
It’s really all I wanted. Yes, it was a battle of wills, but I won’t abide being rude or impolite. He thought he was showing me, but he really was the one who got the lesson.
On the way up the stairs, as I turned at the landing to go up the second set of steps I heard it, quiet as it was:
“I love you, Daddy.”
Take that, you ruddy colored bitch.