How do I nickname my teenager? Let me count the ways. There is a ride at The Great Wolf Lodge water park called “The Howlin’ Tornado”—that name would fit. There was a horror movie once called “Bride of Chucky”—I was thinking that one might be good, too.  Or maybe my old standby is best, Veruca Salt, the demanding girl in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”… 
I can’t decide. For how do you best describe a kid who works hard for seven days on an Indian reservation while on a church youth mission trip (“Mom, I scraped and cleaned a toilet that was covered in bird poop all by myself!”), is well-liked by the group’s counselors and kids (“Mrs. Allbee, you have the funniest daughter, she is so full of life!”), yet gets completely bent out of shape upon returning home because

a.)    We drove to Wal Mart after picking her up at the church parking lot instead of taking her to a favorite restaurant (and she probably also would have preferred flowers and a marching band…);

b.)    We won’t agree to get her a cat (she played with kittens during the trip and now wants one, even though she is allergic to them); and

c.)    She decided during the trip that she’s going to become a vegetarian, and Andy “burnt” the frozen Wal Mart cheese pizza that he baked her for dinner (it wasn’t burnt—just a little dark brown around the edges).

I shouldn’t be too surprised at her outcries. I predicted this “storm”– it’s sometimes hard for kids to make a smooth transition back into their families after being away from home for a while, and Allison has never been great with change.  While away, kids get used to a little more freedom, at least the freedom of not being around their parents, and they get into a comfortable routine of abiding by different rules and schedules, and it can be a downer to come back to reality. I remember the mixed feelings that would always happen for me each summer after finishing a week at camp– happy to be in my own bed, yet sad at the same time.


But darn it, I never got so upset that I threw pizza at my father or dug fingernails into my mom’s arm. If I had, my father would have, among other punishments, threatened to “Give me back to the Indians”, one of his favorite things to say.  Right now, I would very much like to do that with Allison…and it’s only been 48 hours since she’s been back home, and summer isn’t even half over yet…