Our Story Begins: Moonlight Madness..
The Clash Over Covers And Kindness


It all started with the covers on the bed.

Well, more appropriately, I suppose, it started with the moon coming over the horizon as I drove home.  Understand, like some police officers, I hate the full moon. I see it there, the craters making the profile of a woman smiling.  Now that I’m a parent, she’s not smiling; she’s cackling and evil.

I call it The Bad Moon Rising – a full moon. Now, I’ve read all those studies, even listened to unwanted lectures and unsolicited parenting articles that claim sugar doesn’t cause hyperactivity (they haven’t met my kids) and that the moon has no impact on people or children.


I am reminded of my day a few months ago. The same looking moon, the same ruddy, sickening yellow taunting me as I drove home along Highway 50. I walked in the door and immediately knew something was wrong.

It was too quiet.

Abbi, my oldest, is normally sensible and responsible. This night she’d found a recipe for “cake pops” and was determined to make them with red velvet cake. There was food dye everywhere, on the counter, staining her hands, in the sink; this the night before a major exam.

I know I sound like my mother when I say they went screwball, Mad, Mad World, bat – s$%t crazy.  But here’s one night – one freaking night: Hannah started picking at the boys, even beating on them. Sam started screaming at Hannah later because she skipped three frames past the commercial into the awful anime cartoon they were watching.  In the middle of this I heard about how Noah had been verbally tormented by another kid that day, saying their life was better because their Mom wasn’t dead and Noah’s was.

That set the tone for the evening. Noah went off the deep end after his brother and sister told me how he’d been made fun of during the day.  Noah tried to push Sam’s face into his plate of dinner. I swear,  I could hear the horribly cackling woman in the moon sending them over the edge.

So I got them headed up for bed which is where the covers come in.

Noah had messed up his bed the night before.  Keep in mind that they’re supposed to make their beds each morning. I’m no drill sergeant, 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 if I make my bed each day, they can too!

I was reading them a book. Noah was upset his bed was messed up and I told him he’d have been fine if he’d made it this morning. I also told him to put the covers back on himself. His response was to rip off the bedspread and throw it on the floor.  I, in turn, ignored it and 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 up and the moon, that woman’s crazy eye, was staring at me from the mid-point above the horizon.  Yep, she was pulling the kids’ strings!

I finished, said prayers, and hugged Sam, telling him good night. When it was Noah’s turn, he buried his head in the pillow. He hugged me eventually but wouldn’t talk. I looked at him, saying “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. 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. I told them both if Noah came and asked me nicely I’d do it. Otherwise, he knows how to make his bed.

I was making a batch of cookies and preparing 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 witch.

Ever been in a battle of wills with your kids? How did you deal with it? How did it end?

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Dave Manoucheri is a writer and journalist based in Sacramento, California.  A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins, is a chronicle of their daily life after the loss of his wife Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.